By SAMHITA BAROOAH
How will women #choosetochallenge when at every step she is threatened? Her existence is jeopardised with caste, class, gender, tribe, disability, culture, tradition and a sense of community. Today I saw on the street when a woman student was walking to her college in her uniform, a male passerby greets her, “How come today you are in salwar kameez?” she replied calmly, “I have college.” Then again at a hair dresser shop a short haired tribal woman hair dresser is bullied by a tribal male hair dresser and a veil clad woman who happened to the support staff. The tradition bound veiled woman shared her plight of reaching the shop late due to her household chores. After being teased in a friendly way by the rest of the staff she targeted the short haired lanky tribal girl who happened to use the mobile often. She said that her hair was like a bear and she was like a stick without any bulges on her body or bun. The idea of body image of a woman by a woman was extremely interesting. So the woman preferred a curvy body with both bigger breasts and fat. The girl also teased that she would take her burkha to run away. Then the lady got angry and told the tribal girl that she would not get anyone to run away with as the girl was thin and had a funky haircut. Other members of the shop enjoyed the animated conversation but a younger and trendy woman’s body was judged by a tradition bound working woman in a hair salon. This women’s day we need to challenge such cis gendered normative identity formation within women as well. Patriarchy has very conveniently positioned culture driven, tradition bound, submissive women to be the mouthpieces or guardians of oppression. On a daily basis women are suffering from such experiences. Men are relieved that way from this practice of controlling women regularly as women are executing the chauvinistic tasks. A lot of men find it hard to engage with women’s roles and tasks which are not monetised. They control such women with reproductive jobs. Work which is repetitive, labour intensive and demeaning.
A lot of women themselves mediate, manage, pacify and collaborate with diverse forms of patriarchy to survive and sustain their lives and livelihoods. Are women compromising too much in today’s context? Are they feeling the need to be stretched beyond the limits to keep their bodies protected, dignity restored, resources saved, diversity recognised and safeguard their loved ones? These questions are mostly left to interpretations. But whenever women survive one battle, another hundred battles emerge from nowhere. Just when sec 377 was repealed, same sex marriage was stalled in Indian courts. From one end young women are given scooty and cash benefits for education and marriage. Again very recently women are gang raped for caste domination, attacked for resisting coal mining, jailed for fighting climate change and beheaded for choosing their own intimate partner. The duality of Indian patriarchy needs to be challenged by all genders including men and any non-female identity. International Women’s Day brings in the reason to recognise, reinvent and respect what constitutes being a woman rather than objectify her choices, needs and responsibilities. Every community needs the leadership of women in common forums, groups and institutions. Pandemic times have restored the horrible conditions of women within homes. Homes have been confinement zones for women. All battles of equal wages for equal work went down the drain. Women have been shown their place online, rooted and confined within limitations from all fronts. Thus leaving women as pawns of patriarchy.