Note: This post rambles and sounds like a hyper, ranting, screeching person on psychotic meds. I have not edited it into a better argument because I wanted the original content and style intact (as a marker if you will). The picture is taken from the internet and neither this post nor the author (me) intends any malice towards any Bindi manufacturer, etc.
When women walk on the street, people see women walking.
That is how deep rooted our gender-bias is.
“Wear a bindi. It brings beauty to a woman’s face.” I am told this a hundred times. Tell me, what self-indulged sense of beauty or womanhood are you brewing in to define those very terms for me?
I think the bindi is one of the biggest symbols of my country’s intolerant attitude towards equal freedom for equal people.
What is the bindi? A fashion accessory? A religious symbol? The sign of a married woman? The mark of feminine beauty, grace and temperament?
It’s a harmless enough sentiment if you do not think too much about it. Your uncle tells you it brings good fortune to the house. Your co-workers talk of the perfect woman, tied hair adorned with flowers, a bindi on the forehead. Everywhere, everybody talks about women as the female gender first, then as a person and last as an independent entity with a mind of her own.
Why do you not see me when I pass you by? Why do you see my gender first? Why do you think of long- cherished romantic notions of flowers, bird-song, comfort, pleasure, sex when you see me?
Because I am all of these? Because you think I am all of these? Because your thinking is oriented that way? Because society, from the moment of your birth, carefully, slowly, surely orients you into believing this?
And it does not sit right in you. It goes against your very own nature. You are not comprised of just the masculine gender because you are a man. Because you are forced into suppressing the feminine in you, you are oppressed in the most dangerous manner possible. And that makes you weak. So much so that, educated, young and ‘liberal’ that you are, you still do not know how to apply your youth and ‘new thinking’ to the world at large.
This outrage will pass, they tell me. “It’s disgusting. But soon everyone will forget this ‘X’ case until the next ‘Y’ case comes along”. Public memory is short they tell me. I’m sorry, but that is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Say what you will about your memory, I am outraged every single day of my life.
I live and breathe and walk amongst men and women who channel ideologies that beg outrage in response. I am a woman, I am always outraged.
“I would never do that to a woman” someone exclaims in horror. But my eyes turn hard and I swallow the anger that bubbles in my throat. Only a person steeped in this dirty gender divide is capable of making a statement like that. Do you hear people saying “I would never do that to a man”??
“I would never do that do a woman” is but the second cousin of “You are a woman, this is how you should expect to be mistreated”. Why are we so acutely aware of our sex?
Is a man’s mind so damaged by the mixed messages and non-logic of this society that he is constantly, painfully aware of his gender? To see a woman thinking of herself as a person and expecting others to do the same is preposterous because it is not a freedom a man has for himself.
Men are emasculated by being constantly bombarded with ideals of what it means to be a man – and by extension, what it should mean to be a woman.
I am not demanding freedom from you. I cannot. We are, truly, born free and born equal. That is nature’s law. If I am a prisoner, you, my pseudo-captor, are as much a prisoner yourself.
What are we, as a people: A diseased worm that is thrashing to free itself from the weak, pathetic, shallow ideologies that are passed down from one generation to another, gift-wrapped in the guise of culture and tradition?
We disassociate ourselves so conveniently from those aspects of our religion, our culture, that everybody knows – and vocally accepts – is degenerative and simply out-dated in our current times. But we never shake off all the evils at once. Like television soaps, we are determined to hold on to one ugliness after the other till the very last minute possible.
Beyond a Third World War that we constantly fear and try to protect ourselves from, this is the reigning War of the Age. This is that truly ugly, big, bad boss battle that we can’t seem to win.
Coming back to my Bindi point – I like them. I like putting a little dot on my forehead every now and then. It’s a cosmetic fancy, part of an ethnic-do, for me. But I want to tear the bindi off, along with the forehead itself if possible, every time someone complacently, with the joy of paying a compliment, tells me I finally look ‘like a girl’.
Natural creation did not choose the ‘weak’, ‘pleasure-oriented’ female body to bear children, to give birth. The two sexes exist foremost for ensuring the survival of the species – no matter whether we are animals or ‘intelligence-capable’ humans. In order to bear children, a human body is given a uterus and mammary glands. It is naturally engineered to be resistant against most genetic disorders that spell doom for a male. It is naturally given organs that are not as susceptible as a male’s. It is naturally given hormones that regulate the psychology and physiology to be accommodating of offspring – from conception to birth to upbringing.
It is such careful, precise engineering that selected the female of the species as more fit to have another life literally leech off her body before it can exist on its own.
What a superb tragedy that such a grand scheme is reduced to notions, practices, language-roots and cultures that deign a woman weak and inferior, stating all the ‘flaws’ in her body as proof.
Somebody, very early on, recognized that a true power struggle could be reduced in half if women are considered to be, somehow, lesser than men. That successfully eliminates an entire half of the population. Then you pick racial differences and further eliminate more people. Within the population that remains, there are still numerous socio-economic differences that can be carefully engineered into notions of inferiority. You create the divide. You define the weaknesses. Then you prey upon them.
I swell up and bleed and ache for 5 days a month because I am the vessel that holds life for repopulating the species and you want me to believe that this makes me ‘impure’ somehow?
If you are an atheist, then you should have no problem recognizing me as your equal in every imaginable way possible. If you are a believer, then you should naturally see that God chose these traits for me for a collective good and nothing more than that. Are our Gods so petty that they will hold aside half of their children because of physical differences that the Gods themselves are supposed to have engineered? If so, then we rebel against this notion of God, just as we rebel against the autocratic regime of a political oppressor.
You want me to believe that you are stronger?
What strength are we talking about? Physical strength? Brute force? Even beasts are strong. We use them to till the land. Shall we have them rule the state as well?
I want to prove, to no one in particular, that humans aren’t mute beasts that are irreversibly susceptible to only one kind of Pavlov-ian conditioned response.
At the end of this piece, there will be many men and women who will take great pride and pleasure in pointing out that they are ‘different’; that not all men are ‘like that’. This is a general letter and not specifically accusing any one of us. I am not asking you to consider yourselves as oppressors. I’m asking you to not count yourselves out yet – and then see why.
Many people will wonder why I attack religion. “Bindi” is a sacred thing, it’s a ‘cultural’ thing, and it’s an ‘Indian’ thing. Agreed, my friends. I have no problem with that definition of ‘Bindi’. I too, cherish those definitions. The problem is with our definitions of what is ‘sacred’, ‘cultural’, ‘Indian’, etc.
The problem is with our impotent minds. The problem is with our disgruntled, oppressive, unequal definitions of equality and freedom.