Disclaimer: This article is written from a girl’s point of view living in Indian society. It does not intend to take a jibe at any of the existing concepts. Please read this with an open mind and don’t take things personally. I, as an author of this article, am open to your views and ideas on the issue. This article has manifested as a result of several conversations with my friends and various people around me, observations of events and daily incidences that have been taking place around me for more than 5 years. All the stories that I narrate here are real with no fictional element attached to them. Thank you.
I know what you’re thinking. Why have I added this disclaimer? It’s because whenever I try to raise any perspective regarding sensitive issues in society, before actually understanding the thought behind it, people get offended for no reason. My readers must understand that I am a student and I am learning. This blog is my space of expressing my thoughts and ideas and I am open to new perspectives too. I do not intend to get involved in unnecessary online debates, if you have something to say regarding what I think, please feel free to say that and allow me time to think from your point of view. We are all different people with different stories and we all perceive things differently, so without being mean to each other, let’s respect one another thoughts and have a constructive discussion rather than social media trolling or banter.
Now coming to the actual content, the question of Independence is a tricky one. Please note that Independence here is being talked about with reference to Indian women because, in India, men are the more privileged ones by the virtue of their gender in a patriarchal society.
As a kid, we were always taught about equality, human rights, basic fundamental independence to make a choice but as I grew up I realized how flawed our understanding is. Men and women are definitely not equal in any of the aspects. While feminism talks about equality and making the world a better place because we all should just treat each other as humans first. We need to understand that men and women are different with regard to their physicality, their psychology, their emotional quotient, their intelligence quotient, and these differences exist within the same gender too. No two individual human being can ever be exactly the same. But when we have to talk in general terms, men and women are wired differently and a lot of their behaviors depend on their upbringing, the kind of environment they have lived in, what they read and the kind of exposure they have of the world.
Independence does not come naturally to Indian women. I am the elder sister and still, there are occasions when I have to go to the local market after 8PM, my mother asks me to take my younger brother along, which does not make sense because
- He does not want to leave his work
- It is my own area, my own locality, so what it is late?
Safety is the issue. I get that. I get their valid concerns and it hurts because I am helpless. I cannot convince my parents that I am safe in Delhi after 8PM because I know I am not. I have to keep my eyes and ears open at all times even during the daytime. Live locations and informing my parents whether I have reached my destination safely or not has been a daily practice. But we are talking about independence here, not the safety issue.
Girls and women in India need to pick their battles for independence. Independence to make a decision, make a choice, travel, be themselves basically. Independence to wear clothes, to date, to eat what they want to eat, to develop sexual relations with someone, to travel solo, to get ahead in a career, to study, to make a choice regarding their life and so many other trivial things which are basically daily routine things.
What I feel is that independence is, first of all, a state of mind and then it is defined by the people and situations around you.
Now I’ll tell you where I got the motivation to write this post. It was during one of the conversations with a friend of mine. So, I had to deliver a package to another friend who used to be my batchmate in college and she sent her boyfriend to collect it and just like that, I was talking about my day to that friend and she just said- “you know you are too independent for your own good. Men appreciate it when you seek help from them. They don’t like women who are too independent because independent women like you challenge the male authority. Any alpha male will not like an alpha female and that’s exactly why you’ve remained single throughout. You don’t share your work or burden with the men in your life, try doing that, someone might date you.”
Okay, so first of all, with no offense to that friend, I truly believe that she is deeply conditioned by the patriarchal society and has accepted the ideas that she has been fed with. Secondly, I believe that the minds of the Indian women are not independent. They have started to believe that they are the weaker sex while they are not. A woman is definitely not as physically strong as a man but the kind of emotional and mental strength that women have been gifted with is commendable and if any individual, be it a man or a woman conquer the limitations of their minds is unstoppable.
I also feel that women under the pretext of lack of independence tend to exploit the men in their lives. Because while there are struggles of being a woman in Indian society, there are different kinds of struggles of being a man too. And if a man happens to be sensitive enough, girls do play their card of being a girl. I have seen quite a lot of emotionally unavailable men in my life, a lot of them have been my friends and for some reason, I have seen the guys who have been labeled as “emotionally unavailable” cry in front of me and I could not be more glad about it because they have helped me understand the psychology of a normal average guy and their pressures. Now, as a girl, I have always felt that men have more independence as compared to women and while that’s true, but it helped me realize that independence is not a complete concept in itself. You can not be completely independent, whether you are a man or a woman. Independence in terms of getting things done on a daily basis, emotional quotient, mental quotient are all different aspects and while you can be independent in one aspect, you may not be independent in another aspect and it is okay. Independence while it is a personal choice, it is also affected by several other circumstances around you.
I don’t know if I have successfully made a point here in this post or raised a question here because I am still pretty much confused with the concept of independence, so please share your ideas and experiences.
Thank you for reading!