Four women sat around a dining table cupping spherical chalices. Over a warm brew they divulged dark and delicate secrets: four estranged women, comforting each other. Amidst the personal exchange there were two main common denominators present: 1. Each woman felt implicitly smug that she was in every way self-sufficient and 2. Each woman also harbored a precious wonder hidden between her legs, lo and behold: The Vagina.
In a couple of months I’ll be turning 28, two years away from the big three-zero. As a child I earnestly believed life would lead me to marriage and a family; that by thirty I’d have a house, a husband, a baby and maybe even a backyard swimming pool. Basically, I’d be attached, because without human attachment females are incomplete, right?
Unashamedly, my aspirations haven’t changed. I still want the house, the spouse, the sticky, pudgy, gap-toothed baby and yes, a hot tub would be nice. It just so happens that these particular dreams have been placed on hold for the long haul and I can’t guarantee they’ll ever manifest. At the semi-wise age of 27, my concentration goes toward the bettering of self – not that marriage and/or children stops ones personal growth/ambition, but it does prevent the freedom to be effortlessly selfish.
I now view marriage as a deliberate social construct: man made, non-attainable. Don’t mind me, I’m just the bitter outcome of a girl who saw the empire of her family collapse; who’s seen love transcend into deep dislike, over and over again.
*Side note: This will never stop me from getting hitched – if anyone loves a big party it’s me and I already have a theme in mind!
Having worked for a variation of prestigious companies, the amount of women I’ve met above thirty without husbands or children, is vast. No, these women haven’t been “shelved”, they just haven’t prioritized conventional ideals. Driven, intelligent, formidable women, their ambitions aren’t solely to find “the one”. Besides, they’re far too selective and rightly so; fueled by determination and vision…I think I’m low-key one of them.
It is assumed that my age has peaked underlying sensitivity. One of the first questions people ask at social gatherings is “Have you met anyone yet?” to which I reply “Nope”. Suddenly their eyes widen with a deep, deep sympathy and they retort “Aww. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll meet him soon. There’s someone out there for everyone”. Mate, did you not just see me back five tequilas and slut drop my way to the main table? I’m living the dream here, your sympathy is inconsequential. Pity me in the morning, when I’m too hungover to walk to the fridge and have half of my face smeared into the pillow.
Joking aside, it’s a little strange that a culture I deem open and progressive is still obsessed with a woman’s biological limitations. As if in order to be a complete, fulfilled female one should get married and procreate before a certain age – otherwise her life will be sentenced to eternal failure and misery.
I’ve lost count of the women I know who literally do it all. They run a home, raise children, work full-time jobs and come home to make dinner. One of these women, my step-mum, wakes up at 5am each morning and doesn’t hit the sack until 1am that night. Personally I couldn’t do it, but kudos where it’s due. The first time I single-handedly looked after my little brothers (they must have been around two and five at the time), I didn’t have a single moment to think about myself. Drinks were spilling, toys were flying; food was burning and I was exhausted.
How does one find time to think of self if her life is spent thinking of others?
My parents have both advised me NOT to get married: an alternative stance to say the least. Still, the lack of pressure is appreciated: I have some figuring out to do – goals to meet – which couldn’t get done if not for time out. On the subject of love, how can I guarantee somebody right today will still be right tomorrow? Especially in this constant phase of self-development and change?
Men are encouraged to be selfish, fact. They are programmed to think independently and thrive – no deadline for when and if they should settle. When I was a child I was given toy kitchens and dolls, my brother: cars and guns. Our parents didn’t intervene when we chose to have a swap session but still, what do you think was the message perceived?
When my dad met my mother he was forty – she was nineteen. Her family encouraged her to wed because A) He was Western and B) He had money. There was nothing unusual for an Indian woman to be married off at her age, nor was it unusual for a British man of his age to not be married. By 23 years old my mother already had two children; seventeen years on and my dad had two more, a reminder that men don’t succumb to biological pressure and based on that, they can do whatever they like for as long as they like: winners every time.
My mother, who grew up in India and moved back in 2007, had plenty to say about the unfair social behaviors cast upon women:-
“From what I’ve seen, men are encouraged to travel, hang out with friends, have varying hobbies, drink, take drugs as well as numerous sexual partners. Women on the other hand are seen as whores, labeled as “gone cases” or alcoholics should they indulge in anything deviating away from home duties.
Men are trained to earn money, fight wars, lead countries; think politics and sport, while women are encouraged to help their families, cook and clean. You can forget going out after hours with friends, you’re more likely to be married off and forced to breed before you’ve even hit your twenties.
Decision making in running this planet doesn’t seem to be an option for Indian women. Instead, they are mostly confined to their physiology and identities of mother and wife. These roles are selfless by nature. Men, even while being fathers and husbands, are unlimited in their choices.
If you look at history, most enlightened beings i.e. Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, etc are men. Why is it just man who is capable of enlightenment? Surely as a species we are all enlightened or we are all ignorant or we are all both enlightened and ignorant at the same time?
I for one am uninterested in the words of man dictating terms and conditions laid out for women through biased perspective. And let us not forget the ignorance of women’s physical, mental and emotional states, including menstruation, childbirth, postnatal depression, menopause and so on. Unfairness has been cultivated for thousands of years so man can do his thing and women can support man doing his thing. I am pleased it’s changing and whilst I have fought to be selfish, you can be selfish more naturally – thereby being equal to fellow man, if not superior ;-)”
If you’re still feeling a little unsure regarding the message in this post, I’m going to number the shit out of this conclusion:-
- A woman should not be shamed because of her age. We are all getting older and one day we will all die. You + me + your dog + your nan + 150 years = Dead.
- A woman does not need to have children, nor a partner to be fulfilled.
- A woman also does not need a thriving career, nor a hefty salary to be fulfilled.
- A woman does not need to be pressured by her peers, friends, family to settle down and pursue “The One”.
- A woman, should be able to live her life however she chooses, the same way men do, with no outside judgement or interference.
I guess I should be more appreciative – I grew up in a country which advocates freedom of speech: nobody is going to kill me for writing this post; nobody cares that I’m writing it wearing a tight-fitting mini-dress. Still, I’m rather tired of witnessing female oppression: whether you see it or not, it’s there.
When my mother left my dad, she was criticized by all. I grew up hearing everyone slate her choices, fight and freedom. Nobody blinked an eye at my dads mishaps because his liberation was given, not earned.
We now have access to ongoing projects offering female-support; countless texts and programs encouraging empowerment and it’s about fucking time. Unfortunately, “we” is not enough. There are women all over the world subjected to gender apartheid – everything from the way they dress to the way they walk is dictated. They are bullied, tortured and ostracized and in some places even made to sit at the back of the bus. Sound familiar? And let us not forget about FGM and Death by Stoning. Where’s the humanity? Where’s the fairness? Where’s the equality?
But don’t worry, because change is coming. The Rise of the”Selfish” Woman: where a woman does whatever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants and no individual will stop her. I see the rise of this woman every day, because she stares straight back at me in the mirror; almost fearless.