Do we respect ourselves as Women?
A discussion in class today sparked these thoughts. We were in the middle of a Film Studies class when a professor that I have immense respect and admiration for began to talk about the School of Subaltern Studies. He was talking about Robinson Crusoe and he started talking about how the story is quite simple- how it is about a man trapped on an island and his adventures on that island. However, for the longest time,no one really thought of Robinson Crusoe as a manifesto of Colonialism.
Colonialism in Robinson Crusoe was thus not only naturalized but also legitimized as a Social Worldview as though it would make things better.
The more I thought about this today, the clearer things became to me. How many of us really respect ourselves as women? How many of us question patriarchy? How many of us refuse to suffer silently and speak up?
I have an example for this too. Most of my friends have at some point or the other been sexually abused. And nine times out of ten, it has been a relative who has abused them. Most of these girls would not dare to speak out about this in public. Some of them even said they had feelings of guilt. When I was abused as a sixteen year old schoolgirl (about four years ago) I had feelings of guilt. Had I dressed too provocatively? What had prompted such action? Why had I been meted out this kind of treatment? These were the questions that I asked myself, little realizing that this was the effect of years of brainwashing- an effort to make a woman feel inferior and subservient in a patriarchy. I didn't tell myself that no manner what I wore, no one had the right to even touch me without my permission.
What about forced marriages where women are burnt alive if their families cannot pay dowry? In urban India, dowries are often masked as "gifts". What happens then? Do we not have the right to choose our partners?
Before these heinous acts are eradicated, we must learn to stand up for ourselves. The truth of the matter is that as women we have become accustomed to the naturalized and legitimized worldview. We should learn to stand up for ourselves first.