My womanhood and Financial Independence.
I am growing everyday, my womanhood is nourishing, building and rebuilding itself. I am fascinated by the symbols associated with my womanhood in the Indian subcontinent, especially the bindi, the round dot symbolizing the earth and the revolutionary fire inside it or the saree, the long cotton cloth celebrating the longevity of a woman’s being and her sacrifices, these symbols are often stereotyped for various socio-political concerns and have become the favorite part of the Bollywood song themes, however, these symbols whether or not they become a part of a woman’s accessory or wardrobe is a mundane idea to look for the element of womanhood in the gender.
Keeping the biology in mind I used to think that maybe this was what differentiated the woman from a man, but then the experiences happened, the difference between sex and gender proved me wrong. I always studied in a coeducational school, I loved playing outdoor games and preferred hanging out, playing with boys over girls to save myself from the chitchat and obvious jealousies. I used to be disgusted at one point of time thinking of women’s only colleges, women’s only compartments in the train and I never wanted to visit them. It was only when I happened to be in the one of the finest women’s college that I celebrated the being of my gender truly. This college set my standards high, it transformed me into a fine lady and normalized a women’s only coach, a women’s only college for me, but I was yet to come to the grassroots, the story of where everything actually begins, it was now time for my post graduation and I had by now shifted from Delhi to my hometown, Sonipat.
Gradually, shifting to a different society here I realized that I was disillusioned by the very idea of colorful sparkles that my previous college had left in me, the world outside full of patriarchy, also perpetrated by womenfolk on men and women, left me with utter disregard for the society outside my graduation college. But again the travelling through local trains happened, at first I used to commute through the common compartments as the two coaches reserved for the women used to be overcrowded and it made me sad how some women behaved with each other merely for a place to sit.
The post graduation was my decision and I had to struggle through the local trains in order to attend the classes daily. I couldn’t afford to live in a PG in Delhi, Delhi’s atmosphere and homesickness, together are to blame. So instead, I decided to commute from my hometown in Haryana to Delhi, I found solace in the one and a half, sometimes two and other times three hour long journey. Slowly, I started to board the women’s only coaches too, as sometimes I hated finding myself the odd one out in the common coaches, they were considered to be the men only coaches! Travelling along with men never bothered me until I started to face awful stares in these common compartments. I started to get familiar with the women of various socio-economic backgrounds in the train, together they sang devotional songs and also fought over seats. Disgust and fun followed suit. In all the chaos of my daily journey, I found something energizing, fulfilling, some real peaceful experiences.
My womanhood has always given me challenges, it has always questioned my decisions, it has always sought to answer the question of how I wanted to govern my body, thus I always discussed with myself my ethics and principles, I celebrated my chaotic yet beautiful life with a tinny of patriarchal norms. The twists and turns I experienced throughout my life have made me what I am today.
My esteemed college made me aware of women who, with their devout endeavors have reached successfully to their various destinations, I admired them, I found my ideal in them, however, the journey in the local trains made me realize the feeling of how disassociated, detached I was from those women I admired.
The stories of these women daily commuters, some of them being the sole breadwinner of their families, others who often had to fight with their drunkard husbands everyday for letting them earn their livelihood, some finely educated middle aged women who have given their valuable contribution in the banks, hospitals, schools etc. My attention, however almost always went to those uneducated unskilled women who worked as domestic maids in the rich households in Delhi and closer more, to the older women who, with their big round wooden vegetable baskets commuted to and fro from the vegetable market in Delhi to the local vegetable markets in Haryana, these elder womenfolk would sell part of the fruits and vegetables in the train itself. They would discuss their disgust over the menfolk boarding the women only coaches, share a laugh or two talking about various things ranging from their household to their daily sales and then got down at their destinations carrying the huge basket on their heads.
Throughout the journey I come across various stories of women, their relationships with the world beyond their gender and how they sought to govern themselves. All of them had different socio-economic surroundings interwoven through patriarchal junctions, thus, each one of them was different in the attributes, however, there is one thing which combined them along with the local train journeys, the solution to almost every type of problem, which is that of Financial Independence. No matter how small the amount the woman earns through her paid job, the decision to work itself entails her power to shatter patriarchy.
The skilled, qualitatively educated working women of my prestigious college made me a proud alumna, I always knitted my dreams of doing great, something big in life, of reaching that benchmark which these successful women had set for me and obviously outdoing the patriarchs through it. A fine women’s college was all it requires I thought, to realise the true potential of womanhood but my perceptions were put to rest when I observed these unskilled uneducated women who traveled daily to earn their bread, the small amounts they earned sometimes was all which fed the entire family and hence the bread earned them their true womanhood, it smashed the patriarchy at home.
No matter how gendered our workplaces are, if more and more women begin setting their foot equally with menfolk for a paid job, whether or not they are skilled or educated enough, their decision to work outside holds power to realise their true womanhood. The independence of our being if realised financially can bring about better changes into our lives as women, the same can be applied for those belonging to the various transgender groups.
The fight with the drunkard husbands or with the government or with the prejudices and stereotypes of the society, these protests for the right to work to bring financial independence to self, hold the true road to self determination. The Struggles of a everyday woman.
Read more here : http://www.premieroutlook.co.in/menstrual-hygiene-in-india/