We must have heard from our relatives and people from our older generation that a good woman or a good wife is the one who knows how to ‘adjust’. We also must have come across conversations where patriarchs have often said things like “to maintain a good relationship, a woman must adjust” or “till the time things don’t go worse a woman should learn to adjust and shouldn’t go for judicial recourse”.
These casual patriarchal phrases raise many important questions: do women need to face the worse to get justice? Do women need to tolerate abuse from their partners till the time abuse doesn’t go extremely physical or sexual in nature? Do only women need to give up on their dreams and just look after their families?
Patriarchy apologists, however appraise some women in our society and they are only those women who unwillingly or willingly give up on their dreams and career in order to maintain a ‘happy’ family or women who stay with their ‘cruel’ in laws. This proves that the more a woman sacrifices or the more a woman tolerates abuse, the more she is loved and the more she is considered as an “ideal woman”.
But the moment a woman stands up for herself, the moment she focuses on her dreams and career instead of caring about maintaining a family, the moment she stops adjusting, the same patriarchy apologists start slut shamming her or shamming her simply. In this case, she becomes a “bad example” for all other women just for standing up for her simple basic rights.
This also reminds us about how society has taught us that a mother only becomes “a true mother” when she is sacrificial. In India, people question a mother’s identity even if she chooses to wear a western outfit. Do women now even have to sacrifice on their preferred clothes? Women wearing western are seen “incapable “of raising a child? How does a simple piece of fabric decides a woman’s worth? Mothers are also judged by our patriarchal world for being into a particular profession, for example, those engaged in beauty and wellness or into travelling. How does a mother’s profession makes her “less of a mother”?
It’s high time we stop romanticising women who suffer because of internalized patriarchy. The only thing our patriarchal society has to understand is that a woman’s personal choices are her own fundamental rights and she can exercise them as and when she wants.