Women are made to feel guilty for a lot. Having a job, not having a job, living with family, not living with family, having a baby, not having a baby…the list can go on and on and on. It’s always a fight for the average Indian woman to just exist peacefully without someone telling her what to do or what is expected of her. And the situation hasn’t changed for the better. Yes, one would believe that with more awareness and better opportunities, things are getting better for women. But if there’s one step in the right direction, there are a million naysayers ready to push women to the side because of it.
Take period leave as an example
By now, the world should be ready to acknowledge that periods cannot be willed away. Trust us, if it was possible, every woman would have used her mind to make this unpleasant experience a thing of the past. Several institutions and companies, including All About Eve, offer period leave now and encourage women to use it in an effort to normalise basic biology. So, if your company or school is offering period leave, TAKE IT.
They are not doing you a favour because you’re a woman, they’re just acknowledging that it is perfectly normal for a woman to feel sick and need a day of rest during her period. This is not a social media fad, this is a change that was long overdue. The world will not end and men will not die of exhaustion if you take a day’s rest when you really need it.
Want to have a baby? Stop feeling guilty to take time off for it
Maternity leave is often looked at as a “paid holiday” for women. After all, what could be more relaxing than growing a baby from peanut size to watermelon size inside your body, pushing it out from a tiny hole or having it cut out of your body, and then feeding said baby from your own body for the next few months? The perfect vacation, no?
It’s not heroic to work till the day before you go into labour and it’s also not brave to cut your maternity leave short. If your workplace is expecting you to not take the leave that is your right, you should look for another job and report your company maybe. Maternity leave is your legal right. And if your colleagues are trying to make you feel guilty for taking a few months off for your new baby or yourself as a new mother, they are the problem, not you. Report them to HR. Be ruthless.
Why shouldn’t you claim alimony?
Many people feel the concept of alimony is archaic and is biased against good, hardworking men. Well, it’s those good, hardworking men who either didn’t let their wives pursue their careers after marriage or didn’t let them study further. It’s these good, hardworking men who stared silently at the TV while their parents taunted their working wives to such an extent that these women just gave up their dreams to maintain peace at home. It’s also these good, hardworking men who happily handed over the role of the primary caregiver and cook to their wives and forwarded WhatsApp jokes about how women watch TV all day.
When all those odds were stacked against you before your marriage broke down, why shouldn’t you claim monetary reparations? If the ability to earn a living has been taken from her, why should a woman feel guilty for claiming alimony from her former husband?
Women-only areas exist because of harassers. Why should you feel bad about using them?
If women were not being harassed regularly in public areas, no one would even think of a separate area for them. Yes, segregation is not the solution to the problem of gender-based violence and it alienates women while giving the illusion of a safe space. But what else should we do when every man in public could be a potential attacker? So, stop feeling guilty or unfairly entitled if you use these women-only areas in public transport or elsewhere. If men hadn’t been harassing and assaulting women systematically, these areas would not exist. It’s not on you if men feel disgruntled or frustrated when they don’t get a seat in the metro but the women’s coach has plenty of space. You’re not out to torture men, all you’re trying to do is reach home safe.
Remember the hue and cry over the Delhi government’s plans to make public transport free for women?
People were enraged at the possibilities of misuse, the loss of revenue for the government, the unfair advantage for women over the men who would have to pay regular fares. Here’s the thing though. If you’re in an abusive, terrifying situation and have no money of your own, free public transport is one of the first things that will help. And it is mostly women in such situations, let’s not even deny that. Granted, this is generally a one-time situation, not a regular everyday affair. However, among the several impediments in a woman’s path to success is also expenses on transport. If her salary isn’t much, it’s considered pointless for her to work outside the house because “kitna kharcha hai, ghar pe baitho”. Giving the option of free public transport ensures there is one less excuse to not send the daughter of the family to school or college. So, if you absolutely need to, you really should not feel guilty about using such facilities.
Take that leave, use those facilities if you feel you need them, and don’t let anyone–man or woman–make you feel guilty for taking what’s rightfully yours.
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