A patriarchal society deeply influences how women view their rights and behaviors. It is a society where men – fathers, grandfathers, and brothers – define the rules and women must follow them. Since childhood girls are taught to follow these rules, so much so that these ‘rules’ get ingrained in their psyches. These rules become the norm and women follow them without much thought or question. As a result, the bias against women continues to deepen.
When women accept these rules imposed upon them without a question, they are not able to think freely or enjoy the freedom they deserve. This blind acceptance of the so-called ‘rules’ influences their choices in professional and personal lives. They compromise and follow the career choices that someone else deems fit for them. In the process, they compromise with their dreams and passions, and ultimately get reduced to the shadow of what they could become.
Women face constant judgment
Women face discrimination in every walk of life. They are made to feel uncomfortable just about everything about themselves – for not having a certain kind of body, or complexion, or height, or voice, or the choices they try to make in their lives. They are judged for everything they do – or choose not to do. For instance, a career-oriented woman is labeled ‘too ambitious’, while a home-maker is labeled ‘mediocre’. Facing constant judgment and making efforts to ‘live up’ to someone else’s expectations can ruin confidence at the most basic level. Low confidence prevents women from growing and progressing in their professions.
Even at workplaces, women are often judged for being women, and not for the talent they have or the value-add they bring to the table. They have to contend with mediocre projects on the pretext of their perceived ‘inability to cope up with pressure’ or family responsibilities taking up their time and mind space.
It is only when women are able to think freely and question the bias against them, can they be truly empowered. Experiencing a shift in mindset is imperative and can help #BreakTheBias. International Women’s Day is a welcome move towards spreading awareness about gender equality. However, I feel women must be treated equally every single day. Instead of tying them down with antiquated and biased rules, they should have the freedom to spread their wings and pursue their own dreams, never ever feeling guilty about being themselves.
As a woman, I want mothers and sisters to support their teenage girls during these difficult years. This is the period when they are the most vulnerable and need all the support to metamorphose into a confident adult. Instead of teaching girls to try and fit in the criteria that men define for them, mothers must support their daughters in valuing talent, honing their skills, and following their passions. Only then will they be able to #BreakTheBias and cherish themselves as a whole, and just not a body.