WOW | Coffee Break

A certain type of woman

ANJANA KC

Project Manager, Sunaulo Parivar Nepal

anjana-kcPrior to getting dressed for an important meeting with the government staff, I’m always conflicted between ‘who’ I want to portray. Do I dress in my conservative kurtha surwal or my everyday office wear? Would I come off as too strong if I am smartly dressed in my formal pants and shirt (don’t even think about wearing a skirt)? This conundrum faced by many women in Nepal today portrays the patriarchal society that’s still so existent in Nepal. Rarely do men have conflicted thoughts on who they are expected to be and how to dress according to occasion. Such expectations lies with women sometimes presenting an internal war between what us, the modern women want and what is expected of us from society. You want us to get a good education (preferably abroad), you want us to get a job, become modern women, yet expect us to conform to norms that are older than you? Sometimes these expectations are contradictory like when we’re expected to have a boy when you think it’s time for us to get married after years of being told to stay away from them as our reputation is of utmost importance and don’t want to tarnish it. It’s also disturbing when news of rape cases instantly diverts to what the woman was wearing or implications of if she was ‘asking for it’. The conversation rarely ever directly blames the male for the horrendous crime.
Not only are women more educated now, we also have plethora of avenues to learn/experience various topics and to expand our knowledge in numerous subjects (internet, TV, etc.). Given the access to information nowadays, it’s difficult to conform to unreasonable norms such as the practices women are expected to follow during menstruation. How can we continue believing we’re ‘impure’ while we menstruate when we know it’s a natural occurrence and is the reason why we are all here? Similarly, when it’s concerning a women’s body, men or the family seem to be the decision makers while the women experiences the brunt. Family planning contraceptives are often decided by the husband and the in-laws rather than the women herself, again an evidence of patriarchal society. Furthermore, when women choose to get an abortion, which is fully her right as it’s her body, she is described as being of ‘loose’ character, yet the man is not even factored in. Not only are women dictated and expected to act and dress a certain way in accordance to society, women are also – at times – deprived of their fundamental rights to their own body. Society needs to stop blaming and trying to reform women and start educating the male population in respecting the rights and wants of women.