• The Feminist Times


Women today face a huge conflict; one that rages on within themselves between who they were grown

up to be and what they truly identify with. It is difficult to deny that it is still a transitional period for

society in terms of patriarchy and sexism. The current generation of women in the adult population were

raised in a society that, in more cases than one, found itself embodying sexism and gender biases. The

conflict arose when they realised that what they were grown to become and what they identify with are

contrasting, if not outright contradictory.

There is a proven confidence gap among men and women. It is depicted by the STEM classes in primary

schools stretching to the number of female students in engineering colleges. The early 1900s women

were taught extra lessons on sewing and crocheting in schools of Tsarist Russia. Some reports also claim

cooking to have been a part of such gender segregated courses.

This may not be the global official policy anymore but it continues to be the social norm. Household

chores are considered the primary responsibility of women and even when progressive women

understand the sexist nature of this bias, they feel an inner pinch of sole responsibility towards the

upkeep of the brood. Women also struggle with work-life balance due to this reason. Several women

were raised to be homemakers, and were decidedly told their sole purpose in life was to be the backbone

of the household, and of the household alone. They thus induce internal guilt for “neglecting” their

husbands and children when they prioritize their ambitions and achievements.

When several heated conversations are observed, a very overlooked realisation is the difference in the

rate of utterance of profanity among men and women. Men are likely to be more outwardly aggressive

while women appear to be more agitated than hostile. Feelings such as anger which are often associated

with power and authority, are typically considered unfeminine and thus often women employ passive

expressions of anger when compared to men. This leads to cycles of anxiety, destructive gossip and

defamation, suppression of negative feelings and several other unhealthy mentalities among women.

This aids the understanding of the depths of the society’s conditioning and its subsequent repercussions

in terms of common toxic behaviours.

By the standard issue of prevalent customs, women were taught that their existence was subject to that

of the men of their lives, which resulted in their objectification and the degeneration of the worth of

their personality to their appearances and appeal. This also extends to the basic feeling of fulfilment

and self worth. It is implied time and again that a woman’s worth is only as much as a man’s opinion of

her. This is the foundation behind the perception of male attention as “flattering”, however uninvited it


“Women like being liked”, this is another statement that can be decoded in this tangent. It is a passing

remark made in even well educated and aware circles which shows how women are dependents, in this

case for existential worth on outside factors, which in most cases are connected to masculinity.

The very same thought process also leads to women ending up in several unsafe and often unhealthy

situations. While her consciousness and rationale might object to abuse and derision, the social

manifestations keep her there due to her dependency on external sources for validation which compels

her to adjust to several inhumane situations such as abusive marriages, derogatory social circles, silence

and refusal to act post sexual assault and many more.

Another instance of social prejudice and bias seeping into modernity is when in schools girls hide their

sanitary products and sneak them out. Several girls accept menstruation as habitual and can even have

conversations about them with their male friends, but the problem is that those conversations are

neither open nor universal. A set up such as a school is not only where one must be educated, but also

must be safe and aware, the lack of which is depicted in such instances. It shows how taboos continue to

mar the lives of even well-educated girls and women.

The problem being highlighted here is the feeling of incompetence that women face as they grow into

active, independent and fierce individuals. Women are, consciously or subconsciously, grown to be

submissive, subsidiary members of the society whose roles, by example and by upbringing, were limited

to their value to others. The internal conflict between their socially designated comfort zones and their

personality and beliefs often gives women several sleepless nights.

The dearth of power makes a man feel less “manly” and the possession of the same does not sit well with

women due to concealed psychological ideologies. Most women are unable to express their anger and

authority without first questioning themselves. Women find themselves taking multiple guilt trips if

their husbands do household chores. Sacrifice and capitulation are traditionally to be the foundation of

a woman’s existence, and when the modern woman strays from it, she faces internalised patriarchy in

the wake of which comes a sense of delinquency. This system of self doubt and excessive external

dependence is not only harmful but also heartbreaking. This realisation lowers itself into a sadder note

when several mothers see their daughters being shackled by the same trifling beliefs that limited them

in the past which they thought to have discarded.

True equality comes when a woman in all domains of existence is independent. A woman being

emotionally dependent on others due to structured manipulation is a reflection of the very biases that

are considered to have been abolished. This calls for thorough education and reiteration by the society

as a whole. This is not only limited to egalitarian values but also to self confidence and internally

recognised worth. The knowledge of discrimination often does not materialise into its abolishment due

to the lack of implementation which can only be bridged if people are encouraged and made

comfortable doing it. Reliance on external validation is a natural tendency, but over-reliance on the

same is toxic. To put a stop to this toxic cycle, people must feel safe within their identities and being,

which if they do, they would be more likely to follow the still atypical path of equality. The lack of self

worth and esteem stops people from making decisions that are socially considered erroneous. If the

society perpetuates a culture of self love and acceptance, it perpetuates comfort with practices going

against prevalent social norms, thereby attending to several immediate needs of the world.


Ms. Cortney Arena

Marriage and Family Counsellor


Apoorva Panda

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