Despite all the media hysteria, campaigns and platitudes, the fact remains that International Women’s Day is just a sentimental import from the west.
But they say it aims to raise awareness on gender equality and women’s right. Well, really?
No, this is not a feminist rant, but a commentary from my own life.
As a girl who grew up in a small city in Kerala, it took a lot of time for me to understand that the world I am living in decides what’s right for me and what’s not. I was lucky as a child, thanks to my parents. Neither my brother nor I had any gender-specific toys. Never was I told girls don’t play cricket nor that I shouldn’t have friends from the opposite sex. Yes, I enjoyed the same freedom my brother had. But then, I grew up.
I grew up and realized that I can’t choose to live my life the way I want to. The parents who gifted me a gender-neutral childhood soon started putting too many restraints in the pretext of my safety. Can’t blame them though, because all they watch, read and hear are about rape, molestation, harassment, dowry disputes, divorce, moral policing, and what not!
But my problem has always been society that I live in. Society that scares my mother, who has had an independent life till the age of 29, every time I go out in the night. Society that makes my father, who taught me to be bold, think that if I go out with a guy in the night, it would become a case of moral policing. Society of peeping Toms who are eager to know what’s happening in my life when they themselves have a lot to ‘fix’.
So, here’s what I have understood. A woman who is ready to take risks and goes her own way is bold. However, no matter how independent she is, society just can’t accept the fact that she can live alone. If she is single, they want to marry her off to 'the ideal partner' (read unknown guy) because it’s a crime to be an unmarried, independent woman. Left with no choice, the bold girls get married—only to be ushered into a maze of never-ending responsibilities that keep her wings clipped forever.
Lengthy speeches and seminars are never going to empower women. It will happen only if women set themselves free from these safety nets and start living life on their own terms.
Now, this is what I demand. I want the courage to speak up. I don’t want my parents to be scared when I go out in the night. I’m done saving myself. I want to travel with my friends to places unexplored. I want to know how it feels like to be free. I want others to let me make decisions. I want to live.
Nevertheless, I don’t want to be treated like a man, I just want to be treated fairly. I just want to live with the kind of freedom my male counterparts enjoy.
But when society is still not ready to accept me as an adult with a free will, what’s the point in celebrating a Women’s Day?
So ladies, don’t be fooled by this mockery; wake up from your slumber and get on with your lives.