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!
Happy Woman’s Day.
Image Credit: © Loic Giraud | Dreamstime Stock Photos