Womanhood in 2018

A few days back I had started a photo-series where women spoke about what it is to be a woman in today’s day and age. Is it inconvenient as many would say? Is it empowering? Is it tiring? Is it confusing? Well, womanhood cannot be boxed into any definition because the expressions of womanhood are infinite. Through this photo-series I aim to tap into those infinite expressions and discover how a woman in 2018 perceives the idea of being a woman and womanhood as a whole.

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Part II

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Nandana James, 21.

It’s a rather strange time to be a woman. While feminist discussions and assertions are abound, instances of sexism are just as rife. Seems like the wrath of patriarchy is going to linger around, but fortunately, people are willing these days to engage in pertinent discussions.

dsc_001511388637.jpgNandana is a journalism student.

 

Shubhita Chawla, 22.

I’ve come to the realization that being a woman comes with its own set of responsibilities- To help other women grow, to be a good human first, to have the strength to follow your dreams through to name a few. There are so many facets to our being. Mothers, sisters, wives, caregivers, goddess, we can choose to be one, or choose to be all of them. But our biggest responsibility is towards ourselves. To love our flaws and overlook our insecurities. To embrace our vulnerabilities and to flaunt our scars with pride.

 Shubhita is an aspiring media professional.

 

The perception of ‘womanhood’ in today’s day and age can be different to different women. In the upcoming blogs I will bring out more such descriptions about how the woman of 2018 perceives womanhood.

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What It Means To Be A Woman

On the 8th of March we celebrated International Women’s Day, like we do every year. In college, me and all the other girls in my class were given a packet of chilli power with a message that said, “Spice up the eyes of all those words dare harass you.” Looking at that packet one couldn’t help but think that we live in a society where we actually might have to use this on someone one day or another. We live in a world where some women are still not allowed to venture outside without a male companion by their side. A world that sometimes looks down on you for taking certain decisions or living a certain way of you are a woman. But on other hand, we now live in a world where women are CEOs of muti-nationals and Vice Chancellors of countries. The same world that thought women were incompetent to drive (Read UAE), now thinks we deserve the right to drive if we choose to.

Being a woman in today’s world is a complicated affair. We are constantly processing threats and looking at infinite opportunities all at the same time. It’s not all great for us out in the world, but it’s not all that bad either.

So what exactly does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

I asked a few women and this is what they had to say.

And I’d like to present it to you in a three part photo-series.

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PART I

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Zoya Mateen, 22.

For me, womanhood is simply the art of becoming. It’s an inward journey rather than an outward one. I choose to give very little, or perhaps no importance to what someone might choose to identify me as. Sometimes a Muslim, sometimes a woman, the daunting expectations that come when you combine the two. Add a dash of modernity and a spoonful of arbitrary judgements on what I wear what I eat say or think and I already feel like I’m going crazy!
So no. I refuse to listen to them. I refuse to let them choose for me. My battle is within me.

I’m proud of who I am. my gender, faith or thinking have very little role to play individually in making me feel like that. Womanhood for me is this act of faith in yourself. For whoever I am and whatever I can be. I have the strength to accept myself and in the process learn, learn and keep learning

dsc_0061228821267.jpg Zoya is an artist.

Prashasti Awasthi, 21.

Being a woman is a tiring job especially when you advocate feminism. One is always misunderstood.
Having said that I can’t trade being a woman with anything else. It is the most powerful and amazing feeling. We are endowed with the quality of a nurturer and an empath. I cherish it as much as I cherish my physical growth.
I feel fortunate to be chosen to be a woman.

dsc_0047714435329.jpg Prashasti is a war journalist in the making.

 

 

Well, one thing we can agree on is that ‘womanhood’ cannot be defined. It can be perhaps be perceived in different ways by different people. In the upcoming days I will be showcasing more such women sharing their perceptions on womanhood, and what it is to be a woman in 2018. Stay tuned!

 

I’m Not Asking For Much.

Some days I wish, I could just be,
Plain and simple happy,
Is it really too much to ask ?

To feel the love and not the scars,
To lie with you and count the stars!
Is it really too much to ask?

To scratch and scream and giggle and cry,
Free of all those hypocrites,
Who do nothing but pry,
Is it really too much to ask !

Oh I’m tired of pretending,
This mask is too much to bear !
I want to laze around, just for a day,
Do nothing and be at peace;
And try ….just try, not to care!
Is this really too much to ask?

I know, I can be happy alone,
Though you insist it can’t be true.
But today I don’t want to tag along,
I want to be far! Faraway from you!
I wanna dream and write a senseless song,
I wanna hope that through this mess, confusion, tears, expectations, pressures;
I emerge tough and strong.
But I wanna do this on my own ..just let me .. won’t you?
Is this really too much to ask ?

I know that I can find my way,
Inspite of what anyone might have to say,
You impose your thoughts on me ,
You trample on me and prance around;
But not today ..not today!
I know…I know you care for me
But for once I “need” you to let me be,
Is it really too much to ask ?

I believe that I have made myself clear,
Today I’m not gonna ask twice,
I know what I have to do,
I’m just gonna be myself,
No matter what the price!

Dreamcatchers 

They say dream catchers keep away the bad dreams.

The nightmares that don’t let you sleep. Leave you twisting in fright.

But what about the nightmares you live everyday.

No, not the ones that lurk in the darkness, hidden below your pillows.

The ones that stare at you in the eye in broad daylight.

Like the time you were called a randi for wearing shorts on the streets.

When unknown fingers traced their way along your thighs.

When they tried to pry them open by force.

Or how about the time, when you were denied that promotion because you had a vagina.

How they squeezed every last bit of life out of you, but stole your reward.

How they snatched your dreams and trampled on it.

Or wait.

How about the time your uncle PLAYED with you, when you were too young to understand?

And the shame, the guilt and the anger that followed, all the years after!

That once when you were marked unclean, because obviously God didn’t like bleeding women.

All the times you were taken for granted. Your voice shut out.

The days when your boyfriend thought it’s okay to vent out on you. Just, leave a mark or two. After all, you could just cover it with a little foundation here and concealer there.

Or that time, when your husband raped you and everyone you told thought it’s OK.

What about these nightmares?

What about the false promises and hurtful words?

What about the scars that they left on your skin, reminding you of your helplessness?

Will the dream catcher take them away too?

Will it?

Her.

She says she’s strong, but within she knows she’s not.
She’s broken, and mutilated and trampled upon.
But she rises from the ashes, and keeps going like nothing ever happened.
She takes the crowded local train everyday, and hates it.
But she does it anyway, because she wants to give her son a good education.
She paints her nails and lines her eyes. She glosses her lips but is never satisfied.
She does not have those Kim Kardashian curves, you see.
She complains about her 32 B and wishes she had a flat tummy.
She hates to wait for her pizza but has  a tower of patience for her boyfriend who never shows up for dinner.
She says she will change tomorrow.
That she will stop complaining and take charge.
But the next day never comes.
Once in a while she lets her hair down and goes dancing.
Tries to forget how pointless her life has been.
She takes one shot, and then another. Anything to fill that numb void within her.
Skipping from one job to another. As if, trying to find her purpose.
Building stories in her head, of how one day, she will travel the world.
How one day, everything will change.
Looking listlessly out the window, she looks at the street kids.
She looks at them laugh and tries to remember when was the last time she did the same.
She has no more memories of happiness. No recollection of peace.
She laughs forcefully but tears roll down her eyes.
The tears don’t stop and she continues laughing hysterically, like a mad woman.
She believes this is her life now.
She looks at her son’s shoes near the door, before she finally takes the final plunge.
The window was the only bliss she could find.
She has given up on her.
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Isn’t it strange how familiar this sounds? In today’s “modern world the modern human is somewhat lost. They may be your everyday colleague, someone who you see with that serene face in your college or gym. They look absolutely fine, but somewhere deep within they’re not not.
In the past few months I’ve seen several women cry in public places. Some of them sobbed bitterly, some of them quietly unsuccessfully tried to hide the tears. The others just looked at them with judgmental eyes, I could see no mercy not even pity in them!
I usually go ahead and ask if they’re okay and they just reply with a sad smile. Sometimes with a thank you.
I could say the same about men. But according to the inhumane standards of the society, they are not even at a liberty to cry!
Today we are ensnared in this world where we have no one to turn to. We strut around boasting about the number of our facebook friends, but when we are by ourselves we feel empty. Lonely.
Is this the world we wished for ? A place where everyone is isolated. A place where trust and understanding do not exist anymore?