The world has often told me that being delicate and understanding are feminine traits I must have because from the day my breasts turn seemingly visible and my first period arrives, my character will be weighed on a scale of lies built on centuries of patriarchy and women living without knowing another side exists.
One lie added every time I do or say something which isn’t feminine enough. My character is suddenly stained because the fuschia in my lipstick was a little too loud. Am I asking for it? Or have I begun to already sink when the hickey on my neck meant I was expressing desire too soon, but too soon according to who? Or was it when the hem of my dress ended a little above my knees and it fit tight enough around the curve of my body. Does that mean I’m a piece of meat only waiting to be eaten?
I didn’t have a chance to complain you see, my body began to bleed before I could love my childhood. My abdomen twisted and turned, my uterus cried out all before I even understood or heard of consent. The first man I thought I loved groomed me into believing the sole purpose of my body is to please him and he made me think femininity is in doing what you’re told to. At fifteen, I didn’t really know otherwise.
But they forgot to tell me that even if you think pleasure is all your body is for, your character is defective because how could you take your clothes off in front of a camera! Isn’t shame inbuilt in me, or should I trade it in return for my innocence from the man who ruined my idea of love?
“Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.” The hypocrisy of how a woman is seen is appalling because if she listens to the men around her, the respect she deserves begins to deteriorate. And if she doesn’t, her freedom is out of hand, cage her.
This is why femininity and feminism is rebellion. It is not dictated by a set of rules, maybe it is time we vacillate about the things forced upon us and live. Live our fullest lives where my feminine maybe wearing gajra and yours is standing in the way of patriarchy. Or vice versa, it does not matter as long as we fight for the equality we deserve.
Riya is from Mumbai. She is pursuing a degree in Chemistry. She writes poetry, paints, plays the ukulele and loves Van Gogh. She hopes to change the world by being the change, and taking whatever steps she can to make it brighter. She is level-headed as long as it doesn’t include her three cats being cute.