The Curious Case of Casual Sexism
Recently, I had the privilege of getting engaged to the love of my life, it was truly special, filled with love and joy and I’m very very grateful. Everything went great but of course, there was so much unsolicited sexist advice that came with all the well-wrapped gifts. Welcome to India or I guess everywhere in the world because sexism and patriarchy will always find you. I live in the hope of a day that it won’t.
If you’re a to-be bride or have been a bride or actually if you’re a victim of sexism in general, this question has been asked to you by someone at least once in your lifetime — “How will you manage your job after marriage?” Oh like any normal human being would, you know, wake up, go to work, make a living, the basics? I got asked this question by people who know nothing about me, that I haven’t met in years. “How will you run your startup and also run your marriage after the wedding? You surely can’t manage both.” Firstly, very poor choice of words there, not just literally, figuratively, but also English nazis out there will be disappointed. “Run?” - Why would I need to run my marriage? This subtle sexism is still sexism and it needs to stop.
From a young age, Women are conditioned to believe they are meant to maintain traditional gender roles to get married, to be happy. They are asked to conform to sexist, ageist, racist, patriarchal stereotypes and become symbols of their oppression in the hope of finding a man because they are told that this is the only way they can find joy. They’re expected to be submissive caretakers of men in the hope of conditional love among other things. No one expects any of the above from the man. No one is out there asking my fiancé — “How will you run your marriage and still work after the wedding?” None of the “Is your wife and her family supportive of your career?”, “Any way you can’t work after you have kids. Being a father is your only purpose.” You do hear how ridiculous these statements sound when it’s reversed, don’t you? So why are women still being asked these questions?
As a to-be bride, if I’m anything but the society’s conditioned role of demure and helpless, I’m dismissed as troublesome. It’s 2021, women can be whoever they want to be, they can do whatever they want to do. I can have a life beyond just my partner. I can have a fulfilling career, I can have hobbies, dreams, and goals that are personal to me. I’m my person and marriage does not change that. No one can or should have the authority to decide what I should or should not do for my life, inside or outside my marriage.
The times are changing, you don’t have to confine yourself to boxes. Marriage is a choice. It doesn’t define or take anything away from women or anyone and it is meant to be equal. Silent sexism is still loud enough to destroy lives. Freedom and inclusivity are the future. Freedom from patriarchal, misogynistic notions and heteronormative culture for everyone.
In such times, why should we limit ourselves? Why should we let society guilt us into conforming? Why should anyone be conditioned to live inauthentic lives? When will we, society as a whole, unlearn?
When will we all be free?
This is Varshini Raaj signing out.