Feminism is about being equal, and not fit into countless preconditions of society
There is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is imperfection. Being perfectly imperfect is perfection.
It seems that everyone is trying to fit us into a box they call perfection.
Take my parents for example. As the only daughter in the family, my mom made it her top priority to teach me how to be a ‘good mamak girl’. Thanks to her, by 18, I had mastered the art of homemaking. My dad on the other hand taught me to think outside the box, form my own opinions, dream big, be confident.
Both mom and dad wanted to create a perfect model of a daughter. Someone they could be proud of, someone who was a strong female as much as a strong individual. And I tried my best to fit into their definition of perfection.
At my (all-girls) school, my teachers taught me that being born a female, I had to put in extra effort just to be taken seriously.
Growing up, I had family members and relatives telling me what I should do and what I should not. How to behave and how not to. What was acceptable and what was not. How to dress, how to carry myself, how to speak, how to behave. I was even advised not to be too ambitious because it would be difficult to find a ‘mapillai’ (husband).
I had to try fitting into their definition of a perfect woman.
When I got married, once again I faced the dilemma of adjusting myself to my (ex) husband’s model of a perfect wife.
I learned that raising children was ultimately a woman’s job. Men should never be expected to lift a finger around the house. Stay home, clean, cook, wash. No driving. No hanging out with friends. No having your own opinions unless it resonates with his. No raising your voice. No saying no.
And I soon began to understand that only he held the remote control for sex.
As I continuously tried to fit into being his perfect model of a woman and wife, my exhaustion increased and I finally gave up. I walked out of my marriage at the age of 34.
I realised that despite being taught and trained to fit into the model of a perfect woman, I was far from perfect.
It is sad that we live in a society that thinks women are incapable to think for ourselves. That we need some sort of guidance from anyone and everyone. What’s best for us is decided by others because we are seen as incapable of thinking for ourselves.
From pink coloured mittens to red heels, we are told how to live our lives. We try putting up with these expectations, we try very hard to match the standard set by society to fit into society’s model of the perfect woman.
In my course of work, I met little girls complaining of being forced to learn ballet when all they wanted to do was play football; teenage girls who struggled to create their own individuality; young ladies having to put up with double standards in their workplace; wives being enslaved by their husbands; women struggling to earn respect from their male counterparts.
It is indeed very exhausting being a woman! We are constantly seen as incapable. We are never allowed to create our own identity.
While some of us adhere to the rules set for us and dance to the tunes of those holding our strings, there are other bold ones who resist. But they are judged. Our society looks down at them and taints them with ridiculous perceptions.
“Those who wear tight clothes and display too much skin are asking to be raped.”
“Those who take photographs in bed show they are hungry for sex.”
What screwed up mentality do these people in our society have?
How do they differ from those people in India who thought a girl deserves to be raped and murdered for staying out late with a boy? How do they differ from the people in Pakistan who think killing a female to uphold the dignity of a family is allowed? How do they differ from people in the Middle East who punish rape victims for allowing themselves to be raped?
Anyone who thinks they have a say on how others should live their lives are no different – be they parents who stop their daughters from getting a boyish hairstyle; aunties who keep urging their nieces to quickly get married or else end up a spinster; religious scholars advising females to cover up; and media who brainwash society into thinking being fair is beautiful.
Everyone deserves to make their own choices. Even women.
Our society needs to stop trying to fit women into their own perception of perfection. There is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is imperfection. Being perfectly imperfect is perfection.
So if you want to play football, go ahead. If you want to be a marine biologist, do it. If you are an adult and your parents still set you curfews, move out. If you are not allowed to be yourself in your relationship, screw the relationship. If you don’t want to get married, then don’t. If you are unhappily married, do something about it. If you are not ready to have kids, then don’t have kids.
Do not allow anyone to tell you how to live your life.
Be yourself. Stop putting up with people and their idea of how you should be. Stop being a head nodding puppet. Each of us are uniquely our own. We are masterpieces, not photocopies. We should not be made to turn someone else’s visualisation into realisation.
Stop being happy when others refer to us as ‘special’. The term ‘special’ is usually used for the handicapped, those less fortunate ones. We feel privileged to have ‘special’ coaches for ladies, ‘special’ parking spots. We allow ourselves to be given these special treatments without realising by accepting these special treatments, we actually are acknowledging the fact that we are less capable, weak, fragile and incompetent.
The biggest challenge for us women, is to resist these special treatments. Feminism is not about being special. It is about being equal.
Feminism is about empowering ourselves. Feminism is about being perfectly fine to be under our own skin without having to adhere to anyone else’s perception of perfection.
So have some guts. Dare to walk out from the boundaries set for you. Empower yourself. After all you are no ordinary human being. You are a woman!
“It is better to live your life imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
~Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Love, Pray.
March 8, 2015