Freedom as defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the right to do or say what you want without anyone stopping you. Freedom to me is to be free of a burdened mind. To be allowed to dream of almost anything and have hope, rooted in reality, to be able to achieve the same. The written law explicitly mentions that all genders have rights to speech, freedom, equality and what not. But written words and actual practices are on the absolute ends of a broad spectrum.
As a young female adult living in a more or less ‘modern’ city, I have to admit that I am blessed with a lot more opportunities and privileges than my sisters from areas not so far from mine. Hence it does almost feel wrong to complain about wanting more than I am given, and at the same time, it haunts me to not speak up about it. Even with all the freedom I am given I ask for more, for my perfect utopia. Apologies in advance for the upcoming rant.
Do we have freedom of opportunity? As a student who hasn’t been exposed to the professional world, it’s still about the little things for me. I was always told that my male counterparts were physically and emotionally stronger than me, and it was a general idea that they were also more mathematically and technically inclined. Did I believe it? Not really, aside from witnessing so many wonderful people breaking the rules, I was always a little feisty and questioned stereotypical beliefs.
But that doesn’t change the fact that even to this day some women (including few I personally know) don’t seek opportunity in certain areas because they genuinely believe they aren’t fit for said career. Who can blame them? They weren’t truly free to choose what could be the best path for them. A narrowed list of what they ought to choose from was already engraved at a young age. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter what the statistics show. You cannot raise a child to believe he, she or they aren’t capable of something. They need to find out for themselves.
When it comes to leadership the male counterpart is always given more responsibility which is a reflection of our patriarchal society. He, unknowingly perhaps, is given a higher level of reverence than a girl or a female of the same position. I have witnessed a girl who was stripped of her elected position as an Event Head simply because girls were deemed ‘unfit’ to take on such a responsibility. Equal by law somehow didn’t guarantee us freedom to opportunities for growth, however small they may seem.
Are we free of judgement? ‘Definitely not’ would be the understatement of the century. Society does seem to get a tad bit better every day and yet it feels like we froze in the transition to a perfect society. I can think of numerous ways my girls are judged but will try to keep the list short just for the sake of whoever is reading this.
Too confident or too much attitude from a woman is somehow offensive to the older generations (yes, I have been victim to this judgement several times). A career-oriented woman is judged for not fulfilling her ‘feminine duty’. And a family-oriented woman is wrongly judged as meek and unambitious. As someone who wants both this mentality deterred my confidence that it is even possible to have a balance of both.
Don’t even get me started about the freedom to positive body image.
It is frustrating to see my friend lose her love for her own figure as she is told, way too often, she is ‘too flat’ to be a real girl.
Opposed to being understanding, it kind of irked me as it was the exact opposite to my experience of being told I was too big, having enough curves if I say so myself, to be a prim and proper lady of the expected dimensions. Newsflash; we cannot change our bodies according to the ‘trend’ of what’s considered ‘hot’ these days. As a dark-skinned girl, I definitely believed I was ‘not beautiful’ (not that I ever thought that it was an issue not being pretty) until a few years back when my self-love phase kicked in. Supposedly harmless stuff like ads affect young minds drastically, making a child lose their confidence or even create a judgemental soon-to-be-adult.
And being confident about our bodies? An absolute blasphemy! How dare we use our own bodies the way we choose to. Sex is tabooed anyhow, and yet its somehow the woman that gets the short end of the stick when it comes to wanting pleasure. Such irony really, considering the misogynistic society we live in.
What's worse is that girls are kind of drilled to judge each other! The tv trope that jealous and judgemental is all two girlfriends can ever be has managed to keep us divided and against each other. I don’t need to prove any more points to say that Equal on paper did not give us the freedom to live the way we want to.
Now to come to the heavy stuff. Are we free of worry and fear? Modern devices in hand and instant connectivity should mean progress, right? It pains me that I tend to use my headphones as a way to distract myself from the fact that I am walking alone on a street (and no, I don’t mean only after the sun goes down). There are days I’m so immersed in other thoughts I don’t notice, but unfortunately an equal number of days where I am on hyper-alert of who’s in the vicinity. Am I a coward? Maybe, but there shouldn’t have been a reason for me to fear a simple walk in the first place! Having been flashed at the age of fourteen, and actually terrified to walk alone for the week following, I think I can cut myself some slack.
Rape culture, which I’m horrified to say, hasn’t gotten better over time. I was first introduced to the word when I was eleven, before I even completely understood what the word ‘sex’ meant. And as young as eleven is, it was more heartbreaking to have to teach my younger cousin sister what a ‘bad touch’ was when she was only seven.
But this is reality, right? We just have to live with it all, as we are equal on paper. Equal by law. Somehow equality doesn’t guarantee us freedom of safety.
What have I understood from yet another rant to myself? We (anyone who is in my exact same situation) do have freedom and yet we are not truly free. There are much worse, and pressing situations, than the issues faced by a cis-straight-female whose nationality matches her ethnicities (not to say that the aforementioned situations don’t apply to the male community). But these are just a few things I felt had to be lifted off my chest. It will take a cumulation of baby steps spanning over years and years, to reach a place where every citizen is in a free state of mind but I do have hope that we can get there eventually.