I was in pair of tight denims; the security guard at the gates of Meenakshi Temple stopped me. My attire wasn’t appropriate for a temple visit. I was advised to wear something that covers my hips. ‘Not sure how I missed this,’ I murmured.
A stranger lady behind me protested on my behalf, “What’s wrong with this attire?”. I didn’t like her condescending tone; the security lady went on to explain something in Tamil. I reached the car, pulled my shawl, wrapped it over like a skirt and reached the temple gates. That stranger was still arguing on my behalf. When we entered, she approached me to educate me on the lack of equality and gender discrimination in India. That I was asked to go wrap myself was a by-product of this mentality that looked at women in an inferior light, she explained.
“Aren’t we standing at the courtyard of a temple that worships the deity in its female manifestation, considering her to be the supreme mother?” I snapped. Realising I wasn’t buying her flawed concepts, she retreated.
The door was half-opened, I was about to step out. But before that I bent to touch my husband’s feet, he caressed my hair, placed a kiss on my forehead and said, “best of luck.” Inside the elevator I was joined by my next-door neighbour. “You shouldn’t encourage Sumit’s chauvinism like this.” I was stunned at her characterisation of my husband, whom she had never spoken with. Gazing at the bewilderment on my face, she continued, “He made you touch his feet. What century are we living in? We need to put these men on their place.”
“He didn’t ask, I did it out of my will. I always take the blessings of my elders when I head for an interview. Here Sumit is the only elder I have, so, I sought for his blessings.”
“You must get rid of these medieval practices. Does he touch your feet?”
“No. Because I am younger. The culture I hail from…”
We had arrived at the ground floor and she had no patience for my elaborations. While walking out, her flustered face betrayed her frustration with me.
Instead of my regular Vodka with cranberry, I reached for pineapple juice at the New Year party.
“What’s with the juice, lemme get you a drink.” offered Sheila
“No. I have quit drinking.” I returned.
“Is Sumit dictating terms on you after marriage?”
“No. I am just trying to move towards a healthier lifestyle.”
“Oh! You are just letting a man dominate you and change your ways. This is what they all do. Don’t give in, resist. You are an educated woman. Why do you let anyone lecture you?”
With two Master’s Degrees, I'd like to believe I am educated. And as someone who has been working for over a decade, I am an independent woman also. In no way, shape or form do I find myself trailing behind the 21st century feminist. Hence, I fail to acknowledge the authority these ‘feminists’ assume while dictating their ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ on me.
If I should drape a shawl and cover up, how I shape my marriage, whether I cut alcohol out of my life, and a million decisions like these, are choices I make independently. Often, these choices are sneered upon by the modern-day feminists as they do not fit into their frame of an ‘independent woman’ these women hang on the walls of their living room. But that doesn’t change the fact that the decisions of a woman who doesn’t identify herself as a “feminist”, and comply with their set rules, is also exercising her choices as a woman. It is not a 'feminists’ place to pass judgement on how a fellow woman leads her life.
Most have been crying hoarse against ‘Mansplaining’. Why is it tough for them to understand that all women despise being dictated to and judged, and won’t tolerate their unsolicited advice on ‘How to be a modern independent men-loathing woman’ either?
Dear feminists, we know what we want, and your incessant interference in our chosen way of life, is simply unwanted.