A Dichotomy called Woman

A Dichotomy called Woman – Mysterious nymphs or just maniacal?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I swing between feeling both love and hatred towards ‘women’. What makes my relationship with women complicated is that in many ways, I’m a feminist and will speak for women empowerment and defend the cause of women but the concept of femininity and feminism are different for different people, most often suited and tailored to their present situation and need. So, being a woman myself, how can I garner feelings of hatred towards women? This, by the way should not be too surprising. If you ask women in your life, they won’t be ashamed of telling you how and why they ‘hate that bitch’ !

It’s not women that I ‘hate’ but the concept of women that is being perpetrated by our society and the world in general. I hear people tell me that women are oppressed in India but not in the ‘so called’ developed countries where they seem to have all the freedom to express themselves and be ‘who they are’. But in fact, this notion is not true. 

On the outset it might seem like women in the western world are free from the chains of society, because of what they wear and how the media portrays them but that picture is missing quite a few pieces of the puzzle that makes a woman. Women are struggling in all parts of the world. Their struggle is of two kinds – Firstly, with the society. Secondly and most importantly, with themselves.

In the struggle with society, they are trying to break away from being ‘sex objects’, ‘damsels in distress’, being taken seriously through the work they do at their workplaces or independently and at the same time, being sensitive to their family’s needs. There is so much pressure from all sides that somewhere in the midst of this, they give in. They give in to doing everything that is expected of them and what they expect of themselves which leads to anxiety and confusion.  

  • She wants to look good so she competes with celebrities and other women around them.  
  • She wants to be competitive and taken seriously, so she competes with men at work.
  • She quits working because her family needs her. She continues working because she doesn’t want to fit into the traditional role of a woman (she’s meant for better things).
  • She changes her industry because her family is not supportive of her working hours and the demands at work.
  • She relocates because her husband is relocating.
  • She wants to be sensitive towards her family so she cooks herself. She can’t cook herself, she feels guilty.
  • If anyone criticises the food or the upkeep of the house, she takes it personally (even though it’s supposed to be team work).
  • If the kids behave badly or are irresponsible, she is not giving them enough time as a mother. 
  • If the husband comes late from work, she wants to wait to have dinner together.
  • If she comes late from work, she’s expected to cook. No wait, she WANTS to cook.
  • If she doesn’t keep in touch with her in laws or friends, she doesn’t care.
  • If she doesn’t do what she’s expected to, she feels guilty.

In other words, she gets so caught up in this web of expectations where she has little time to think and analyse. She just does what is expected of her and wants to do it because that’s the only thing that will make her a good mother, wife, girlfriend, woman, daughter in law, colleague, employee, friend and the many roles she is playing in her life. The only way to be happy is to make everyone around her happy. { This is also got to do with her maternal instincts. Read more about it here. }

This is sure shot recipe for disappointment and guilt. And because comparison and competition is at the heart of this phenomenon of ‘pleasing everyone’ and being the ‘best’, she looks down upon the women who don’t give in to the demands of society or people around them. In the feminist struggle of ‘equality’ and rebelling against the traditional roles of women in a society and family, we have committed to more than we can chew. The feminists will tell you you can do everything – bear children, rear them, work full time jobs, travel, cook, socialise, keep in touch with everyone that matters except yourself ! This is the distorted view of feminism that strives for equality not freedom of choice.

“Unwittingly, the feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men.” 

Dr Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman


We have been burdened with more than we can manage in terms of everything – responsibilities, expectations from others and ourselves. We’re supposed to be home makers and ‘equal’ breadwinners. Breadwinning is something that we can’t outsource so home making, parenting, child rearing, cooking is something we employ others to do for us.

Women are prioritising careers and professional equality and they seem to have choice in the matter. It was all very good to hear when I was growing up – I could do whatever I wanted, I could have everything. I would have a career and a family as well. Be ambitious and strive to be on top because you have the potential to scale the corporate ladder. IIT, IAS, MBA – the 3 pathways to success. No one talked about motherhood, having to make a choice – a choice that is life changing and tears your heart apart. How could there have been such a huge gap in communication from people who were supposed to be your teachers, mentors, life coaches and parents ? My mom always told me that I would be expected to be a home maker whether I worked in a full time job or not, men don’t contribute and that’s that. I would be cynical about it and reply that I would never cook. There are people you can hire to cook for you ! 


We idolised the working women and looked down upon the home maker. We never questioned our judgment or asked the woman if working or staying at home was by choice. I’m hearing more and more stories about women who are being forced to work and women who are staying at home by choice. The underlying theme to all of this is ‘money’ and it’s sad to realise that that’s the only thing ruling our lives. Women are a source of love, comfort and wisdom. And that must not change for then we are undermining the femininity and celebrating masculinity.

“The world in which we now live is a world whose outlook is so distorted that we absolutize what is relative (money-making, power, success) and relativize what is absolute (truth, moral values, and God).” 

Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

Pardon me for mentioning femininity, that’s like opening a pandora’s box. The trouble here is though, that people discuss and practice feminism because asking themselves what femininity is ! Feminism is not about ‘women’, it’s about femininity or everything that a woman is or stands for. We have come to exclude the very purpose of femininity from feminism – Creation. Here is something for you to read if you want to question and understand femininity better.

Of course, there are a large number of feminine traits, masculine traits and overlapping traits and all of us are unique in the sense of the kind and number of traits that make us from both sides. It is this exciting mix that makes us renders our individuality. And to respect that without judgement and being stereotyped is something that the world especially the women need to learn. And the only way that is possible is by throwing their fears and inferiority complexes out the window and strive to be not what your environment expects of you but who you really are. After all, no one ever said ‘I love you because you the CEO of Pepsi ! 

Shivani GargA Dichotomy called Woman

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