Indra Nooyi wasn’t spared either. She recently admitted that a successful woman cannot have it all. And maybe we can’t just ‘lean in’ like Sheryl Sandberg tells us to. So does that make me feel better? No! It only proves gender stereotypes, mommy guilt and misery have company. It does however, take a lot of strength to admit to it. True, we can’t have it all… and who is to decide that? Men? Other women? The world in general?
So what do we do? We adjust. While cribbing, raving and ranting, we fall in line, simply to keep the peace. We do things because others think that that’s way they ought to be done. Because in the long run, you just stop arguing or fighting for your rights just to keep the peace. Lest you be labelled. Lest you are left out of the herd… even if it’s not the one you want to belong to.
I must admit that I have and am at the receiving end of many of these stereotypes. Other women have told me how to raise my child without even offering a hand to help… just telling me that I was doing everything wrong. Now when the same child is grown up, I often worry whether his rational questioning will be directed at my parenting skills or what they would consider, the lack of it. So I often give in, to superstitions, irrationalities and absurdities, because I need to conform to be part of a family or a community. So I fake agony over muhurthams, rahukalams, no nail-cutting on Tuesdays or visiting old people on Saturdays, not walking out in threes, not returning to your own home on the ninth day – while I don’t believe in any of them. Am I an aberration? To others, no! To myself, yes, I am the biggest hypocrite ever because when I am back to Muscat and work, I then go on to voice eloquent on women’s issues. So scared I am of condemnation that I compromise on my health by popping pills to delay my periods so that I am not segregated and treated like an untouchable. What then, is the purpose of my beliefs, my existence, my life?
It’s a dilemma. Do you stick to your beliefs at the cost of hurting your family? To keep peace? To co-exist. Or do you believe in your ideals because they make you the person you are? My brain is often riddled with thoughts like these – the holes never seeming to close up because putting the ‘I’ before the ‘We’ is fraught with danger – the danger of thinking for yourself. And again, put that in many words – How selfish would that be?
Till the day when we truly feel that we can be true to ourselves, that’s when we’ll be free!
Till that day, I will remain. A hypocrite!