11-17 September 2015 #775

Rescue me not

Family, society and culture tell women who we are and how we need to be, and what we can and cannot do
Anjana Rajbhandary
WORLD BANK


A prince had to kiss Snow White to bring her back to life. Cinderella’s prince called her the love of his life but forgot what she looked like, and had to put the shoe on every girl in the kingdom. Fairy tales are great, but they tend to show that women need to be saved.

When I was in sixth grade and talking in the library, my teacher told me, “Women are to be seen and admired, not heard.” It made me feel that it was wrong to have a voice, that as a woman, I should not have an opinion.

As girls, we get programmed from a very young age about what we can and cannot do. Family, society and culture tell us who we are and how we need to be. We get treated differently based on our gender, our talents and our looks.

Girls are born with a life map of how to be and expected to follow a trajectory of tradition and convention without questioning why they have to do so. Most women follow it without thinking. Shouldn’t more women explore and find their own ways in life?

Most of us don’t take the time to find out what our authentic self is but choose (with a heavy heart) to stick to the stereotype society has plastered all over us where we need to be rescued.

We don’t think about questioning or filtering through the irrational beliefs that are tattooed in our brains, being told, for example, not to touch any books during periods. But no one has a rational explanation. Why not? It is not easy and usually painful to disagree with norms that have been practiced for generations, but at one time slavery was acceptable but that changed.

Kathmandu’s cosmopolitan women are smart and educated, but they struggle conforming to and living under the pressures of appearing to be a good daughter-in-law, wife and mother, despite what they feel on the inside.

This is nothing more than a way to control women and if they revolt, family and society manipulate them to feel guilty for actually wanting to be happy and living a life they love. We are so heavily influenced by the world that most families prioritise what society prefers than their own child’s happiness.

One truth I learned is that if you live your life trying to make society happy, you will never be happy. Society will always find something wrong and it will always point at a fault that you need to work on. There is a difference between being true to yourself and giving up on common sense and doing whatever you want. If more people chose to be happy than conventional, there would be fewer individuals judging us in society.

In the end, it’s not enough for my prince to buy me glass slippers and take care of me financially. He needs to be smart and kind who sees me as an equal partner in life where I make my own money. I am a hopeless romantic and I still believe in love but I do not need to be rescued: I can save myself.

Read also

Girl talk: period, Anjana Rajbhandary

Privileged freedom, Anjana Rajbhandary

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