I still remember that glitter in your eyes when I donned the clothes and behavior of your choice. But today when I speak my mind, wear what I want to wear, read romantic novels because I like that genre, when I started exploring myself hidden in the layers of societal expectations and pretence that very same glitter seems to have lost forever. All I can see is fumes of disappointment and pity which, to worst fear, might turn into flames of rage and enforcement.
Papa, you fail to acknowledge that your daughter like your nephews has an individuality of her own and wants to build a life that she loves, and not the one society expects her to build. I am hurt by your failure to appreciate a daughter who is curious, defiant, speaks her mind and want to challenge patriarchy.
I deserve to own my success, own my choices and my life but I also desire to hear that you are proud of me and for everything I stand for. However, being discriminated and discouraged by my own family every day, being constantly indoctrinated with patriarchal ideologies and forced to conform to misogynistic customs acts as a major setback on the path to my success. Whenever it comes to my life choices, ‘log kya kahenge’ precedes my personal preferences. My clothes, career and thoughts should first align with the culture, family beliefs and society and whether I agree with the decision or not doesn’t matter. Papa, I want to learn to cook because I like it not because I have to feed my husband and kids in future. I don’t like to dress up, I like to keep my attire simple yet at the same time I like wearing makeup but every time I see your disappointed face or hear you didn’t like my outfit, it breaks my heart a little. I never told you this but I lose confidence whenever you say, “Don’t wear that hairstyle!” or “What have you worn? I have bought you better clothes than this!” I know, papa, you are not happy with my decision of studying law. I am disheartened that you think it’s not a safe career choice for women and hence, you want me to become a judge so that I will lead a comfortable life because you don’t believe I will be able to hustle and work in a corporate environment.
If I try to raise my voice and question your beliefs and decisions, I feel I am choked by discrimination, demotivation, unfair restrictions and the gas lightening that I am too naïve to have a choice and opinion. “It is difficult to for a woman to survive in this cruel world without marriage.” “Do whatever you want to do after you get married” is all I get to hear when I question the injustice happening with me or around me. Papa, you never forget to remind me that I am living under your roof and this will never be my home because a girl’s husband’s house is supposed to be her home.
Papa, please stop taking me for granted. Stop obsessing over cultural norms and start trusting your upbringing. Stop assuming that I am weak without your support. I feel hurt because I expect you to appreciate my choices and my courage to be different. I wish you feel confident and proud of a daughter who is out there conquering the world. I wish you understand that I will not ultimately agree to all your demands and restrictions just because you have made up your mind that I cannot possibly survive on my own.
Papa, why is that you don’t have these assumptions when it comes to all my male cousins? It is high time you accept that an educated and empowered daughter can support her family and herself.
With these thoughts rummaging through my brain all I can do is seek comfort in the words of Louisa May Alcott. “I’m sick of being told that love is all a woman is fit for,” says Jo in Little Women. It’s a story of four March sisters residing in USA during and after the Civil war. I liked the movie adaptation released in 2019. It is believed that their story portrays women as independent and rule breakers.
The author of the book, Alcott would compose passionately, secured in a room — she trained herself to be able to use both hands when her hand got worn out — and was known for snapping. She was the first woman to enroll to vote in Concord, Mass., in 1879, a long time before the nineteenth amendment was passed. Although marriage is presented as the “sweetest chapter” and motherhood “the deepest and the tenderest [experience] of a woman’s life” in the story, she remained single. “I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe,” she used to say.
The March sisters are not devoid of flaws and irrational life choices. They make irreversible mistakes, they fight and subsequently make up but above all they ask the right questions and stand up for themselves and everything important when nobody else is willing to. They overthrow the basic ideals of how the female protagonist is expected to bury her personal aspirations in order to receive societal approval and acceptance for a peaceful existence. This group of sisters represents women in a much awaited light of freedom, individuality and realism. They aren’t polite, dumb or dependent on others or somebody else’s property to claim instead they’re rightfully filled with rage, societal burdens and determination to prove their worth.
My personal attachment to the movie was with the protagonist Jo, played by Saoirse Ronan. Her character resonated with me in a way that felt so utterly inspiring and educational. “Women have minds, and they have souls as well as just hearts. They have got ambition and talent as well as just beauty. And I am so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for.” The line moved me to my very core.
‘It’s like that very sound the deepest desires of my heart yearn to make’
Public Broadcasting Service. (2019, December 18). 7 surprising facts ABOUT Louisa May Alcott. PBS. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/little-women-7-surprising-facts-about-louisa-may-alcott/
The Little Women. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from https://youtu.be/juGi1Xg5rGc
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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