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I Am Woman

 

I am Woman….

It is entirely possible that I am just beginning to realize that.  No naughty ideas, please. 😉

For years, I’ve never thought of myself as belonging to a gender – but just being Me – a person.

When many women around me would view certain actions of men through the lens of gender discrimination, I confess I couldn’t completely empathise with them. I did not feel discriminated against. I felt grateful that I was so blessed. After all, I was educated and working and my gender didn’t hold me back.

Or did it?

I didn’t completely realize that I was treated differently by my parents – no opportunities were held back, but I was sheltered and protected. Having two older brothers ensured that I was dropped and picked up to my school or college, except when I used the school/college bus. Perhaps, I just accepted that in India, women learn to live with eve-teasing and the the fact that they couldn’t safely stay out  late at night.

When I was working, I thought I was promoted really fast at work because I was efficient at my job. I felt no discrimination because of my gender. Now, I begin to wonder if part of the reason was that I was single and was willing and able to put in the long working hours that my married colleagues could not.

When male customers, at the bank I worked for, propositioned me, I smiled at my adroitness in side-stepping their offers of dates, thinking they were just stupid. I didn’t think of approaching the management with this – it seemed insignificant and nothing ‘untoward’ happened anyway, I thought.

When I was teaching, I thought it was my talent and hard work that made me the natural choice of the management to bring up the plays and Christmas programmes. Now, I know it was because my married women colleagues couldn’t wait after college to do that.

When I heard that fire-crackers were burst in our ancestral village in Goa at the birth of my Dad, my grandfather’s first male child , I smiled at the quaint custom. I didn’t think of asking why they were not burst at the birth of my aunts.

When my mom nagged me about my weight and lack of interest in household chores, I just thought it was just her and didn’t think of it as a subtle form of  saying ‘if you don’t, who will marry you?’  Perhaps in her mind at least, some guy was going to be kind enough to marry me, but I’d better be ‘ready’.

I chose not to be discriminated against. Stupid? You bet!

However, I’ve been doing some growing up in the last few years. Yes, finally! I’m learning to look back on my life and see all the times I’ve been blind to a lot of things that happened to me.  It is not to blame anyone or any circumstances, but just to be aware and authentic.

So let me confess today that I have been discriminated against based on gender.  This knowledge makes me more empathetic to the millions of women in my country who suffer terrible discrimination based on gender. It makes me more sensitive to every slight and innuendo that some men feel it is their right to dish out to women.  And most of all it makes me want to, for the first time, really stand up and fight against gender discrimination through my choices, words and actions.

Yes, I have finally realized that I am woman. Watch me roar!

Helen Reddy‘s ‘I Am Woman’ here or below:

Happy Woman’s Day.

 

 

Image Credit: © Loic Giraud | Dreamstime Stock Photos

37 Comments

  1. Melissa Tandoc Melissa Tandoc March 17, 2013

    Just the other day, I was discussing with friends “Transgender issues.” Then, we reflected on how God ‘wonderfully” created us.
    I had some of the questions you had…but somehow, it made me feel good in a ‘positive way’ how women’s charms work.
    Everyday is a cause for celebrating Woman’s Day 😉 Lots of love!

  2. Melissa Tandoc Melissa Tandoc March 17, 2013

    Just the other day, I was talking on ‘transgender issues’ with friends. Then we reflected on how ‘beautifully’ God created us. I relate with the ‘questions’ you had in mind… and somehow, I thought, it makes me ‘feel good’ in a positive way how women’s charms work…
    Everyday is a Woman’s day 😉 Lots of love!

  3. Latha Latha March 14, 2013

    Been late on this one. Hmm…scares me to look back and think what phases I have been through and who I am today because of what I have gone through. I’m happy that you feel authentic this way. There’s nothing like gender equality, Corinne. It can never be. Being the older one of the two girls for my mom, I had been the boy of the family all the time. Still remember those Christmas/Pongal nights when I kept waiting for my mom at her tailoring shop and rode back my bicycle at 12:00 AM and later; me myself being a teenager and leaving my 8 yr old sis at home…it is scary….

  4. Roshni Roshni March 12, 2013

    I found myself relating so much to your analyzing your past! I too thought I had received excellent opportunities throughout my life irrespective of gender, but now that I think about it, I did get additional ‘pampering’ and protection from my parents and relatives, and so on!
    It’s good to be aware of this so that we can be more empathetic to women who are overtly discriminated against! I am also guilty of previously thinking that they did not try hard enough!

  5. Kathy Kathy March 11, 2013

    I think you can find gender discrimination just about any where. I think you were right to remain positive and credit things to your abilities and accomplishments. If only people would give others a chance, get to know them, and discover who they really are.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

  6. G Angela G Angela March 11, 2013

    Corinne ! this was a very interesting post, made me relook at my past in a very brief manner, honestly I do not want to look at it now. Its been a struggle right from the day I was told how to dress, how to behave and what type of work i must be doing, it is so much ingrained in our culture – and it is such an accepted fact to be a women is to abide by the norms laid out for us – and I faithfully tried my best to abide, lest i would create a lot of disturbances both in the family and outside.

    I remember, i had to hide and learn to cycle – borrow it from the backdoor and learn to ride without the knowledge of the family. I had to fight to continue my education at home, as my parents and family felt that its useless to educate girls, because they will go to another house, so what is the use… its been a journey with so much challenge, thanks be to God for my persistence, faith in myself and God and surrounded by good friends that I survived and continue to keep going…. thanks for being apart of my life, my life became joyful and meaningful coz of lovely people like you and today I am glad that i am a women.. thanks for sharing…

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 11, 2013

      I certainly had you in mind when I was writing this, Janet. I know how much you had to fight this growing up…. but look how far you’ve come? 🙂

  7. Jyothi Jyothi March 10, 2013

    This is such a fine read. So true. We never even realized that we were given special treatments or discriminated against. We thought we were special and loved. We are three sisters, so nothing seemed odd to me about how over protected we were. Although I am thankful for it, it also makes me feel sad.

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 11, 2013

      Thanks, Jyothi. When I was writing this, I wasn’t sure many would identify with my naivete. At some levels, knowing that you felt the same way, makes me feel understood. Only I wish we didn’t have to discuss this.

  8. Martha Orlando Martha Orlando March 10, 2013

    Extremely insightful, Corinne. You were able to stand back and look at your life and the treatments you were given, and call it for what it was without laying blame on people entrenched in an “unfair” society. Keep speaking up and speaking out, my friend! Blessings!

  9. Pixie Pixie March 9, 2013

    yep.. what you say is right.
    Its so ingrained in our system, society and everyday life that sometimes, I need to stop and say – “wait a minute”!!
    I’m glad that we are aware and making noise and taking a stand against it all… It may seem small, every drop, every small fight/protest counts.
    everytime someone stands up to the patriarchical BS, we win a small battle!

    hugs!

  10. My Inner Chick My Inner Chick March 9, 2013

    Ooo, I LOVE THIS, Corinne.

    I hear you ((((ROARING))) Yes. I do. Xxx

  11. Lazy Pineapple Lazy Pineapple March 9, 2013

    Yes, gender discrimination is there at every place in our society. It is just that we take many things at face value without ever thinking of it. I guess we have been brought up in such a way that we don’t perceive it as discrimination.

    The new generation is much more aware and vocal about it.

  12. Dagny Dagny March 9, 2013

    Corinne,

    You had me nodding nineteen to a dozen. When I read what you wrote about there being firecrackers on the birth of your dad, time stopped for me. I sat thinking for a long time.

    I was an only child. My ma never like gender bias of any kind. While I was growing up, my father made my breakfast (and a cuppa for her) oftener than she did. He did housework (which she not only hated but was also lousy at) a lot more frequently than she did. It is her b’day today. 🙂

    Yet, she was restrictive of my movements. I was never permitted to be out of the house beyond 6.15pm. In summers I had a 15min grace. Nothing beyond. I took it as her desire to ensure my safety.

    But the world beyond my home was full of gender bias. My mother’s sisters would scold her for giving me too much freedom. My maternal grandmother was sure I would disgrace them by ‘running away from home’. She just scoffed at them. And I never did run away from home. Why should I have? 🙂

    Gender bias is deeper than we realize sometimes. I think we’re too conditioned to detect it when we do come across it.

    Loved this, truly.
    Dagny

  13. Susan Deborah Susan Deborah March 9, 2013

    Corinne, you say that you didn’t think about discrimination and all – I found that as a level above the normal. I wouldn’t call you naive but it shows how pure your heart is. In fact you didn’t harbour any negativity and stress during those years. The very fact that you thought of yourself as a human and didn’t fit yourself into a box called ‘gender’ is something wonderful. That’s what Women’s Day is all about – moving beyond gender and seeing the woman as a person, an individual. Maybe I am turning the whole thing upside down but that’s what I think.

    Joy always,
    Susan

  14. Inspiring Citizen Rafi Inspiring Citizen Rafi March 9, 2013

    Hi Corrine,

    What ever you have said happens in corporate India to a good extent. If you want to add more value and learn more about how men have been treating women over the centuries Rajnish Osho has written a book on women and that will be a great read, I guess.

    Sincerely,
    Rafi

  15. B k chowla B k chowla March 9, 2013

    Times are changing.I am certain this discremination is soon going to be a case of past.
    Happy Women’s Day

  16. Rachna Rachna March 8, 2013

    Actually true! We never look back and think that this is discrimination. Like you I am blessed to be born in a wonderful family but as you pointed out being a girl was a fact of life.

  17. Jessica Jessica March 8, 2013

    Very reflect post. There are subtle ways, as you point out, where a division, where the labeling and erecting of artificial boundaries and expectations for, still exist. The only real time I think I consciously remember feeling discriminated against was harassment I did face when I chose to be a drummer in school. I was the only female, and even one of my male teachers pointed it out, asking why I didn’t choose another instrument! Why I chose to be among all males. It wasn’t who else was drumming, it was the drumming itself that I enjoyed. Fortunately, though, I kind of broke that gender barrier in my town. I was the first female drummer it had had in the school system, and like with so many other things, after I had become known and respected for my performance, other girls began to show interest and became drummers as well! It’s not always easy breaking the mold..but oh so very necessary to progress forward and to be true to ourselves. 🙂

  18. Hiten Hiten March 8, 2013

    Hi Corinne,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. It was interesting because as you say, you have come to learn that there were instances in your life, where you were discriminated against and this isn’t right.

    Having said this, from what you wrote, you demonstrated a clear ability to see the good in situations. This is a very powerful quality to have.

    Thank you.

  19. janu janu March 8, 2013

    Yes…it is all common for girls/woman in India to be brought up this way. I was also given a free reign till I completed college, but then they wanted me to marry off. 🙂

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      That’s true, Janaki, sadly. We can only start to change things for the next generation as you must doing with your daughter.
      And you, my dear lady, certainly didn’t stick to the plan, did you? 😉

  20. Afshan Afshan March 8, 2013

    The discrimination prevails since times immemorial and loved reading this Corinne

    Happy womens day !

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      It does, Afshan but aren’t we getting out of this, even if it means taking baby steps? 🙂

  21. rimly rimly March 8, 2013

    I can identify with what you are saying in this post. I think a lot of us will. Interesting!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      I’m glad that you can identify with this, Rimly. I felt it was just me that was ‘wierd’! 😉

  22. Harleena Singh Harleena Singh March 8, 2013

    I’m with you there Corinne!

    There are instances in our lives – those very smallest of moments that we don’t actually realize – but they do come and strike us later in our lives, when we actually sit down to think about it. And all that you mentioned, isn’t something that happened to you alone, as I’m sure we all can relate to having undergone most of these issues.

    Yes, it’s time we rise and ‘roar’ 🙂 Wishing you a very Happy International Women’s Day as well. I am proud to me a woman, and prouder still to be acquainted to another one like you. 🙂 YOU rock!

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      Yes, isn’t it amazing how we get used to certain things and begin to take for granted everything that happens in the name of culture, tradition and ‘family values’.
      I’m glad we can roar today together, Harleena. And YOU certainly rock too, lady! 🙂

  23. Privy Trifles Privy Trifles March 8, 2013

    Beautiful post as always Corinne, with some very valid questions being raised subtly.. I guess somewhere all of us have felt this discrimination in some way or the other. Maybe we felt it, maybe we did not.

    So you have put if forth very rightly – Its we who choose whether to be discriminated or not!

    Happy Women’s Day to you <3

    HUGS

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      This is such a touchy subject, Privy that I had to keep ensuring that I was sticking to my story and not generalizing! Thank you for seeing the subtle messages.

  24. Akanksha Dureja Akanksha Dureja March 8, 2013

    Thought provoking! I better not look back at my life, today…

    • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 8, 2013

      Thanks, Akanksha. Hmmm…now I’m wondering why you don’t want to look back?

      • Akanksha Dureja Akanksha Dureja March 11, 2013

        Don’t want to look back, as it might bring some bitterness along. Instead, keep my eyes open 🙂

        • Corinne Rodrigues Corinne Rodrigues March 11, 2013

          Hmmm…I’ve learned it’s important to look back and work out the bitterness – because it will crop up at the wrong time or place – much like shoving garbage into a bin and hoping it will go away. But that’s my personal experience. I’m sure you have your own process, Akanksha.

  25. Vasudha P Rao Vasudha P Rao March 8, 2013

    Interesting post …..liked it very much !

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