March 8, 2017

On this International Women’s Day, we women still crave for some equal rights. We constantly battle people daily that preach us how to dress, where to go and when to marry. Will we ever get freedom from these gender stereotypes in Indian culture forced upon us?

1. Freedom to Wear Anything We Choose

Battling the Stereotype: Acche ghar ki ladkiya aise kapde nahi pehenti

Women have to carefully think of their wardrobe choices at all times. First, there are the perverts on the streets who make us uncomfortable. Unless you are ready for whistles, stares and catcalls, you can’t dream of going out in a low cut blouse on Delhi streets. Then there is the moral police, who decides on our behalf how a ‘decent girl’ should dress. Since when did our choice of clothes (or lack of it) become a national meter of morality?

2. Freedom To Go Out At Night

Battling the Stereotype: Akeli Ladki Khuli Tijori ki Tarah Hoti Hai

There is an unwritten code for women in India – if it’s dark, thou shall not venture out of home. Every Indian girl has an ingrained mental calculator that knows the exact time when it’s ‘too late’ to be alone. Beyond that, we have to walk with pepper spray in one hand and phone emergency dial button in the other. We wish there will be a time, when all we have to worry about will be retouching our makeup at night.

gender stereotypes in Indian culture

3. Freedom from Sexual Harassment

Battling the Stereotype: She was asking for it

Just to be clear – we are never asking for it. Even when we are drunk, even when we are alone and even when we wear revealing clothes. Even Nirbhaya, who was brutally gang raped on the streets of Delhi more than 4 years ago, was not asking for it. We have become fearful of sexual harassment in public transport, on the streets, and at the workplace. Deepika Padukone tells you exactly when women ‘ask for it’.

gender stereotypes in Indian culture

4. Freedom from Forced Happily Ever After

Battling the Stereotype: Beta, Shadi ke laddoo kab khila rahi ho?

Irritating aunties hate our singlehood as much as Meryl Streep loathes Donald Trump. Agreed, every girl secretly dreams of having her happily ever after but getting us married being the life goal of the entire mohalla, is too much pressure, frankly. And then there are the ‘looking for homely, fair girl who enjoys cooking’ matrimonial ads that defeat our morale even more.

gender stereotypes in Indian culture

5. Freedom from Sexism at Workplace

Battling the Stereotype: She got the job because of her looks

Whether it is Hollywood’s current heartthrob, Priyanka Chopra, or the badass boss of PepsiCo, Indira Nooyi, looks have nothing to do with their success. All women who succeed have two things in common – an iron will to battle the odds and hard work to show for it. We don’t want anyone telling us “girls can’t be engineers” or “the job is too demanding for a woman to handle”.

gender stereotypes in Indian culture

and lastly, but most importantly…

6. Freedom from the Burden of Honour

Battling the Stereotype: Ladki ghar ki izzat hoti hai

Why are only women forced to carry the burden of honour? We need freedom from people who want to hide us for honour’s sake as well as those who try to snatch it. As famous women’s rights activist, Kamla Bhasin, says “why have you put the family’s honour in my vagina?”

gender stereotypes in Indian culture

 Let’s hope the world can learn a thing or two from these powerful female superheroes who know how to play by their own rules.