Once I heard a bunch of girls talking about patriarchy. One of them said, “even in card games the king is more powerful than the queen.” All the other girls giggled. It sounded to me like their acceptance of patriarchy.
There hasn’t been a single day in my life where I haven’t heard of why women must have a good character to please society. There seems to be a long manual on how to be a woman for society. It’s as if society has created the manual for women to follow right from their birth to their last breath.
Imagine a family gathering where they do not comment about your body and face. Imagine not being judged because you are a woman.
Let me speak about some of the common remarks they make about women. “Just ignore,” said my sister when we were walking on the street and a stranger made sexual remarks about her. “You’re so lucky, your husband knows how to cook,” said one of my relatives when she knew my dad cooks his favorite food whenever he’s free. “Chhori, you’re a girl and you know how unsafe it is to go out for girls this late,” said my friend’s dad when she wanted to go to her friend’s party.
“Let me wrap it up with newspaper and give it to you,” said the shopkeeper before he handed over the sanitary pad to me as if I was buying something illegal. “How many times should I tell you that you must not touch anything in the kitchen when you’re menstruating,” said my mother when all that had done was drink water from the kitchen. I was bleeding.
“She must have given him some hint and we know boys will be boys. There’s no point in pleading innocence, she is responsible for what happened to her,” said some aunties as they read the reports of rapes in newspapers. “Oh, she got promoted? She must have slept with her boss,” one of the employees said when a hard-working woman was promoted to a higher level. “Have you looked at her face? Who is going to marry her?” said one of my relatives to one of my cousins of my age.
And so boys don’t cry and women shouldn’t be cold-hearted and so on and so forth.
We have had enough
Haven’t we had enough of aunties commenting on our dress and reminding us not to stay outside till late even if it’s for the sake of work? Haven’t we had enough of the blame game? Haven’t we had enough of keeping quiet when someone says “boys will be boys” and “it happened because she wanted it to happen” or “what do you expect when you’re wearing that”?
Haven’t we had enough of not responding to eve-teasing every time we’re out?
Haven’t we had enough of hearing women are mature enough to understand and compromise but have never been appointed to higher posts for the same reasons? Haven’t we had enough of being called bossy and cold when we have good commanding or leadership qualities?
Haven’t we had enough of sexual, mental, or physical violence? Haven’t we had enough of teaching girls not to get physically assaulted instead of teaching boys not to assault the girls?
A Norwegian women’s beach handball team fined for not wearing bikini bottoms, said a recent news report. Isn’t it amazing that we live in a world where women are fined for trying to cover up while playing sports, but passing comments and making us feel uncomfortable according to the dress we wear is completely fine?
I bet there are no women you’ve met who haven’t walked home scared. The problem isn’t that “women are scared to walk alone at night”, it’s “men terrify women into staying indoors.” If you argue “not all men” then justify why are women scared at night with every single man who walks behind them in the dark?
I have had enough of misogyny and hypocrisy! I have had enough of unequal payments! I have had enough of paying tax on sanitary pads!
All these problems exist because we don’t utter a word when something wrong happens, we either think it is okay to suffer because we’re women or just ignore it thinking we cannot change it.
“Girls mature fast, so you should make allowances for them, or you should be the one compromising, or you should be the one understanding.” This is something that I’ve heard a lot while growing up. But I have never heard people say “boys, girls mature more rapidly than you. Look to them as examples of intelligence and leadership”. I wonder why girls are assumed to handle situations perfectly and having good management skills is limited inside the house and it has never been a reason to give them certain posts to prove it in their profession.
This misogyny has existed for a long time. It can’t change in the blink of an eye but to make the difference genuinely there at least should be the beginning. We can’t change the outside world if we don’t start the change from our own home. Let’s not be someone who desires the change but doesn’t want to be part of it.
Malala Yousafzai once said: “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” I don’t know about you but I have had enough of this misogyny and hypocrisy! I have had enough of unequal payments! I have had enough of paying tax on sanitary pads! I have had enough! It’s high time that we realize that we have had enough and say it loud and clear! Let’s come together and speak out for ourselves!
Shreena Nepal is a student of BA LLB at Kathmandu School of Law.