“I dedicate the success of this day to my darling husband, without whose support, none of what you may have witnessed today would have possible!”
The speaker was an old school friend of mine, a new mother who was celebrating the Indian Christening ceremony or Hindu Naming over a Zoom video among other friends, colleagues and my in-laws, who had to be part of it as distant relatives. There was a change in customs, normally conducted by the father’s side of the child or the husband’s sister or mother. Instead they were shown to be carried out by my friend’s mother and sister instead. #SMASHTHEPATRIACHY was the theme for the day. The virtual gathering, of which I was thankfully not part of, but was forced to receive the garrulous bustling, had not yet concluded. The women of my family were swift to switch off the audio in favor of some impulsive comments that could not be saved for the end of the day.
“She has separated from her in-laws anyways, with what face could they possibly be a part of the ceremony? Hogwash she has anything to do with matriarchy! Would her celebrations be as grand if she had a girl?”
As I exited the spot to allow them to their disparaging remarks, I could not help but recount how both women parties once frowned upon my husband’s choice to keep my surname or rather my maiden name for our child. The question is not so much about patriarchy or matriarchy, but the relevance of a woman’s decision and her choices:
The choice to WEAR what she likes
The choice to GO where she wants and when
The choice to MARRY or stay happily SINGLE
The choice to NOT bring forth CHILDREN
The choice of CAREER over MOTHERHOOD
The choice to AGE or not, gracefully.
In my life, I have had to encounter opposition in these choices first from mothers, teachers, nuns, grandmothers, female besties, and then later from colleagues, mother and sisters-in-law, and of course, the over friendly “well-meaning” auntie from the abominably close neighborhood (even COVID-19 unfortunately is unable to curtail the latter’s unflinching business). The biggest and most astounding enemies of a woman, are umm…women themselves. I can never shake off my misogyny and cringe at a setting that happen to be fraught with ladies. My mother-in-law cannot understand my revulsion when I am asked to join in unrealistic banter with the womenfolk that come over. It is therefore easy to resonate with Anamika Chatterjee’s column on why female friendships are work in progress.
Even celebrities who skulk under the title of activists and feminists are shown to engage in derogatory debates with women, losing no opportunity to trample their struggles and perspectives, or the little popularity due to them.
It also Ends with Us…
“After a certain age, you cannot wear pink nor red”, my grandmother would say, in a futile attempt to redo my clothing colors from the standard preferences of black, greys and denim.
“Do not flaunt your intelligence in front of your husband, he will grow to dislike you!” I am unfortunately, yet reminded of this, even in the face of grave ignorance. I do not blame the perpetrators of these theories, as they belonged to the school of thought where daughters were indoctrinated to relinquish ingenuity in favor of virile convenience. Therefore, no woman can progress if she cannot fathom the progress of another female counterpart. Women’s Day will never cease to be celebrated, the over rated day when women are lauded, only to be relegated back to their realities the day after.
Yes, we ought to teach our sons and brothers the respect and significance of a woman, but alongside let’s not invalidate our daughters and sisters for their choices.
On an ending note, did I say I hate women? My misogyny luckily has not hampered me from bringing home the works of brilliant women. To all the female writers of the past and present:
L. M. Montgomery
Louisa May Alcott
J. K. Rowling
…and many more, Thank You!
To all the writers of the future, including my talented sister – Do not be afraid to write about what disquiets, disconcerts or disfavors the world. Leave your mark. Write History.