It’s a difficult topic I chose today, difficult because they are very teeny tiny things to start with but they have a downstream impact on many different levels. I even hard a hard time figuring out a tittle, I did not know what to call it. The sad part is, most of it is being done at such a small level that it’s almost subconscious. So please read on, this awareness is important. I am in no way stating that men are the reason behind it, they are absolutely not. The reason behind the most of it is how we as a society have grown. As we pray to devi these nine days, let’s do something to make the lives better of Devis that we can see with our eyes, as her feminine energy resides in every female.  

I was in school when I first experienced eve teasing and in college first year when I got a taste of groping in a public transport, I urge you read it here . My mind froze for the moment and I felt like I was reduced to an object. Not all men harass women but the truth is, every woman is being harassed, all of my female friends without a single exception have experienced eve teasing if not groping. If you ask any person that who is the physically weaker gender, they won’t even take a second of thinking before saying it’s the female. Which is factually true. It makes me wonder if that’s the reason that makes us so vulnerable to be treated as a source of mere entertainment. We are in such a sorry state that martial arts is not even a hobby, a passion or a sport for women anymore. For the most of us it’s self defense. But who says that it has to stay that way, who says that we need to continue to be the weaker ones? It will be an eternity before eve teasing stops completely and I am not sure if that day will ever come. What we can do is make our girls strong. And it is difficult too because even speaking in a raised voice in order to be heard, makes her arrogant while the same act makes a man brave and courageous.

Hobbies like cooking, arts and dance are said to be elegant hobbies for a woman but I have rarely encountered anyone who pushes their girl child to build her strength. I started weight lifting and strength training almost a year ago and I am consumed by the satisfaction it provides me. I have women at my gym who powerlift and I say it without the slightest exaggeration that she can easily lift a fully grown human. Once, an awesome lady did squats with me on her shoulders. She is so strong that the weight available in our gym is not sufficient for her in some exercises and the best part? She is the mother of two teenage boys! When somebody looks at her, they get intimidated by her strength. If every woman was so strong, will there still be as many crimes against women as there are today? I don’t think so. Because I think it  most of it happens due to the common perception that they cannot fight back. Nobody will mess with someone who is stronger than them. I myself don’t tolerate any staring or eve-teasing anymore and if anything like  groping ever happened with me again, I will not think twice before smashing his head on the nearest wall I find. 

Once I got into a debate with a friend about strength and I asked him to punch me where ever he wants and then I would do the same but with half of the force he put in. He assumed my obvious target and backed off. May be it was not a fair comparison but it’s also not acceptable to let these snide comments pass by about how fragile and weak we are. Most women I know, are not even aware of the fact that girls can also do weight lifting and body building. When I tell people I gym, they usually ask me “why? you are already very much in shape” and get very confused when I tell then that currently I am focusing on increasing my weight. Muscle and strength is something we associate with only men while girls are taught to be thin and slim and it needs to change. The only way to change this perception is to encourage our girls to be physically strong. Being compassionate does not work when it comes to safety. She needs to be strong as a human. Strong enough to bring down anyone who tries to attack her and this strength needs to be built from a young age. If a girl is trained from early years, she will be stronger than a lot of men by the time she is in her twenties.  

Apart from building strength, we also need to let our girls choose the life they want, even if it’s an unconventional one. We need to stop teaching them about how they are going to be future daughter-in-laws and wives and hence they should behave accordingly. A few weeks earlier I was out on a weekend with my friends and one of them spoke out of nowhere “Do you guys think we’ll be able to meet as much after 5-6 years?”. “Why not?” I asked confused. “Because we will be married ofcourse, my mother says it will be hard to go out with friends if in-laws did not permit”. I laughed inconsiderately  for a good ten seconds before realizing she was serious. I could not believe my ears that mothers were still teaching  such things to their girls, even in 2022. “Don’t you have a mouth to speak?” I was a little upset on how she was surrendering her free will because clearly she was not happy with it. But later, I realized it was not her fault. She was brought up this way. It was the way she was programmed and so is the state of many women in our country.

Just imagine this. You are in your twenties, earning on your own and have huge ambitions to fulfill and have goals to achieve professionally and personally and then suddenly you are living in somebody else’s home with his sur-name. And you have to ask for their permission for almost everything. Financial difficulties is a reasonable issue but other than that Before asking a women to live with our family we should ask ourselves if we will be comfortable doing the same.  I know how sensitive this topic can be and I apologize for hurting any sentiments but It’s important to be aware of these little things that can eventually accumulate and turn a perfectly chirpy person to a depressed one. Spoiling somebody’s quality of life is the worst thing to do to a human. Let me bring an easier example, people who live in Delhi, knows how hot it gets during summer, now in my house I wear shorts that goes way above my knees, I can sit and sleep wherever I want but I would not be comfortable doing it in front my in-laws. Same goes with many such little things, the freedom we feel in our own house is difficult to be attained somewhere else and specially around elders who are not our parents. Sometimes married women themselves fail to understand why they are being so annoyed at the tiniest things but one of its causes is the freedom that she no longer has. It eventually turns into frustration and later she just gives up and adjusts.

I never thought of it so deeply until one of my friend’s elder sister who is married told it to us. “I never thought these things bother but they do”. Many women adjust because they are taught so from their childhood and we grew up seeing our mothers doing the same but it is not more important than one’s mental health. Devotion, love and surrender only happens when one is mentally ready otherwise it is submission and not devotion.

When I discussed it with my brother he said “Ofcourse I will never expect my spouse to take care and live with our parents. They have invested their wealth and time on us, primarily it’s our duty not hers. She can if she wants to but I am never going to hold it against her if she didn’t go an extra mile to take care of them like we normally expect from a woman, that’s only logical. Besides, she will have her own parents to take care of, they will also be getting old right” I was very much surprised at his maturity because let’s face it, as the elder sister it’s my right to think that my younger brother is dumb 😛 jk . As a human, nothing makes me happier than doing something for someone else be it elders or kids , I am always all in for seva but  living with someone’s parents is a huge step, many things get compromised from privacy to freedom, so even if your spouse is a compassionate person ask her if she is okay with it, you cannot make that decision for her. And along with that we should teach our daughters that there is nothing wrong is speaking up if she is uncomfortable. Women stay in poor relationships and keep dealing with not-so-cooperative in-laws at the cost of her mental health because she thinks it is the only way. Such a human can never keep someone else happy while she is not happy with herself. Teach her from childhood that when she becomes an adult, she is entitled to her opinion when it comes to decisions that effect her life. Only that way we will be able to raise a generation of women who are compassionate and fearless at the same time to walk on any path she wants. 

We need to stop deciding things for a female and let her make that choice on her own. We put her on a pedestal that is actually a prison. We even stopped women from connecting with God. When I started worshipping Shiva, many people tried to tell me a lot of superstitions in which they believed. For example, I should not touch the linga, I should him worship him in this way or that way. I shouldn’t wear a rudraksha but the most common was I should stay away from my Pooja during periods. I asked them why and came across the most ridiculous answers. On the contrary, I need my Pooja the most during my periods to keep my calm. The day my isht asks me to stop doing it, I will stop that day no questions asked.

I have been doing it continuously for the past 3.5 years and my isht never stopped me, why would he? He is half feminine himself. These voices and instructions are not from god but people who translated his words and mixed them with their own. Discrimination is a human act, divine does not do such things. I only eat after I do my Abhishekam and feed him. Even if I am outside somewhere, I do a mental offering. If periods are impure then by simple logic this whole creation is impure. Some people argue that such taboo were made so that women can take rest during those days but it only ended up making her more miserable and untouchable.It’s not for us to decide when she needs rest and in what way. Let her decide that.Let her discover the Devi that resides in her by walking on her own path. As Akshay Bhai said it before in his latest post that we cannot realise Shiva without his Shakti. And my request to all women is to speak up when they are uncomfortable, because sometimes people genuinely don’t understand what’s wrong and speaking up is the only way around it.  Not just the female, there is a Devi in every being, as she is life itself.

Hope you all had a great time in the past week worshipping her. Sri Matre Namah 😀 

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Supriya Patnaik

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