Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Women's Day

International Women's Day

With international women's day just around the corner, I cannot but help feeling special. Newspapers and internet are flooded with posts and women's-day-discount ads. Soon whatsapp will be filled with flattering messages about how woman is the mother, the daughter, the sister, the wife and how she must be venerated. Also, there will be talks (by men) about how woman is an equal and how she is a perfect competition to man. And that's where my question arises. Why are we always gauging woman with the yardstick called man? Why do we always talk about woman 'empowerment' as if we were the weaker section of the society and need a strong male hand for our upliftment? Why can't have more discussion on reciprocal respect? Thankfully, as a breath of fresh air, I heard a presentation on similar lines at our school Women's Day special assembly (conducted by the men folk in the school).

I do not want to get into all the sexist discussion about why do we celebrate women's day and not men's day? For me, it's like a common birthday celebration for all women, which is just another occasion to feel special. And even though there is not as much hue and cry about international men's day, it does exist, and I like to make the men in my life special on that day.

Anyway, let's get back to the subject at hand. There are lots and lots of things to talk about. But what draws my attention the most at the moment, are two themes; one serious, and the other seriousismo*! Over the last couple of years, it seems as if the obsession with fair skin has gone to another level altogether. Nine out of ten ads on television show girls who are low on self confidence and who seem to have nothing better to think of in life than being two shades fairer. In a recent ad, we see a girl who musters the courage to talk to her father about not wanting to getting married only after having used a fairness cream and apparently having become more beautiful. I mean, seriously? Whenever I am with a group of girls, within 10 minutes, two topics come up inevitably: let's click some pictures (and then cribbing about how they are not as photogenic as someone else in the group) and weight loss. It's good to stay fit. But anything in excess is nothing but an obsession. And I don't think it's anyone but our own expectation from ourselves that's way too much. When I see a girl who has put on coloured lenses, straightened her curly hair (or curled her straight hair), put lots of compact to hide some marks and is constantly starving herself to lose those extra calories, I just feel that it is an insult to God's creation of a beautiful you. On this women's day, I just pray that each girl learns to love herself for what she is.

Coming to the other problem, the rape cases in India. Every time I hear of a case of molestation or sexual assault, I think to myself, that with the increase in literacy rate and more and more men being educated, this problem with soon disappear. But either I am expecting things to change too fast or not enough men are getting adequate education, but the rape cases are only increasing with each passing day, and at an alarming rate at that! I don't want to quit being optimistic, though. I just hope this year will be different than the preceding ones.

Finally, a very happy women's day to all the beautiful women out there. And to our masculine counterparts, is baar apni biradari ki naak rakh lena.**

*extremely serious.
**a dialogue from 'Dor' where Shreyas Talpade, after helping Gul Panag throughout her journey, says, "Ummeed hai maine apni biradari ki naak rakh li.''