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The Concept Of Being A Woman June 9, 2012

Posted by Gomathi Reddy in Culture, Desi Indian, Love and Life, Women and Children.
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Just a while ago I was reading, Marilyn Frye‘s analogy of a birdcage to illustrate the problem of systemic and systematic gender oppression: if we focus too carefully on an individual wire it will become unclear to us why the bird cannot step around the wire to escape. Single wires do not appear problematic until we step back and observe the way in which the wires work in conjunction with other wires to cage in the bird.Then, Frye asserts“it is perfectly obvious that the bird is surrounded by a network of systematically related barriers, no one of which would be the least hindrance to its flight, but which, by their relations to each other, are as confining as the solid walls of a dungeon.”

Wow, how true!!

Women, Caged?

As a woman, would I ever credit someone’s ability to block my growth as the cause for my lack of it? Would I even bother to acknowledge someone’s strength over me – Does that make that person Godly enough to control my life, or does that make me the lowest scum at the lowest part of the dirtiest pond, who deserves to remain there. Why should this concept of being a woman become a hindrance to me living my life?

Woman!! The concept of being a women!! In the past I’ve chatted up with a few people on how would they define this “concept of being a woman”

When I popped this question to other women, their reactions ranged from:

“What’s wrong with you”

“Ahem, here goes the feminist”

“Someone who is willing to surrender,” to

“Chromosomal difference – 2x?”

And the males reacted with:

“What kind of a survey is this?”

“An adult with woman organs,”

“Something to oggle at, when you want to kill time”

“Mother, Sister, Wife, Daughter and my favourite Goddess, all rolled into one”

All reactions were only about the physical and the physiological differences with a man, that are bound to excite a man – In short a definition about her,  revolves around what she can “deliver” (pun intended). It was only about servicing a man’s need or feeding his singular perceptions about women.

No, this is not feminism. This is reality. When a woman walks out of her home, she is out there in the open, wild, big, crazy world, trying to fit or flirt with the perceptions of what she is supposed to be – from both men and women. If you are anyone like me, you are not even aware of these. You are just yourself. And everyone is benchmarking, judging you by what they perceive should be your behaviour and attitude.

Management books and HR psychometric tests make life that much more difficult, if you want to chase this race called LIFE, to the finish (Imagine having to fit into one of those slots….SOMEHOW, just to get a job, and stay consistent in your “fit” so that you don’t challenge the wits of your HR head and as an added bonus he also gets to retain his job!!)

And then you also have to deal with little more complex situations in life, like:

a) Waking up in the morning, wondering if you should brush you teeth first or have your bath first.

b) Should you smile at your neighbour, even if they don’t hide their irritation that YOU read their daily newspaper before they did.

c) When you have to be candid with someone about your likes and dislikes and expect them to understand that you too can have opinions, if not about them, you are entitled to have at least a few, about self.

d) Accepting that you’ve made a mistake in your choice and you don’t want to perpetuate that and you are willing to move on to the next phase in life and then somebody reminds you that you are not supposed to shift even IPL-team-loyalties, how can you……

e) You cry out loud and feel like singing, “Its my life…” but you are expected not to, because you are a woman! And so you choose to remain a bathroom singer

f) Life is tough, being single – that’s what you are supposed to believe, but you couldn’t agree less!

And then you learn to live and let live – You begin to respond to perceptions with predictable reactions. It’s like responding to a psychometric test – You have to fit in SOMEHOW. So you read up the “key” page before hand, start answering what they like to hear, and even get consistent at it, so that THEY can handle it.

Life is always an “I  vs They” and this is one match you’d always like to end in a draw. It’s like being the bird in Marilyn Frye’s birdcage.

But the reality is, none of the single wires are complex.

Tap the right one, learn to skew it – just that much so that you can slip out free.

But if you step back and look at the birdcage, you begin to view the enormity of the full cage, and then you’ll begin to worry – Way too much to attempt to get away. You’ll begin to understand that the oppression is systemic and there is no way you’ll ever get out, and then out of sheer helplessness of fighting the battle in your mind, you stay back where you are. You learn to Parrot what you are told to, drink and eat what is thrown on your plate and take the effort to stay beautiful for the owner. You even allow him to clip your wings, so that he can have a handle on how much you can fly.

To a woman, the concept of being a women, can be limiting – If she chooses to remain that way.

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Comments»

1. shivprasad - June 9, 2012

nice one….!! and it was something off the mind.. and life is always like we try to fit in whatever is given.. whereas one do dream about being a free bird and flying off whereever you go

Gomathi Reddy - June 9, 2012

Thank you!


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