Yesterday, the news about Sania Mirza answering a royally sexist question with the most brilliant reply dominated the media. And, to think the question was asked by renowned TV anchor and journalist Rajdeep Sardesai goes to show how deeply entrenched patriarchy is in us. As kids, whether we questioned the motives and actions of our parents, grandparents and society in general may portray our early independent thinking and analytical abilities, but even as a part of today’s youth or young workforce, it takes me time to separate the norm from the what-it-ought-to-be.
As I’ve always tried to explain to others, patriarchy cannot be exorcised from our mindsets by just reading a couple of books, watching some films or even attending lectures. It takes time, albeit differing from person to person. Sometimes, even if we call ourselves liberals and feminists, we don’t realise how our actions, words and thought processes have changed little from the traditional.
When female celebrities get questioned over motherhood and ‘settling down’, imagine what the many women in their 20s and 30s must face on a daily basis. From constant barbs and teasing relatives, it gets extremely frustrating for women to pursue their career without having to deflect questions from every corner. Hiring at firms too take place accordingly, keeping an ‘eye’ on employees who are prospective brides and mothers.
When Rajdeep asked Sania when she planned to ‘settle down’, ‘retire’ and ‘build her family’, he later rephrased it as what life beyond tennis would be. This is what she said…
“You sound disappointed that I’m not choosing motherhood over being number one in the world at this point of time. But I’ll answer your question anyway, that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. But eventually it will happen, not right now. And when it does happen, I’ll be the first one to tell everybody when I plan to do that.”
Giving birth and raising a family are still seen as the essential duties and responsibilities of women today. Despite women having made a mark in almost all fields, and proving to be equally resilient and focussed when it comes to their career, people consider their lives incomplete without a husband (or boyfriend), children and seriously question their lack of devotion towards raising a family. Of course, Rajdeep immediately graciously apologised to her, on screen, and admitted how he would never have questioned a male athlete similarly. Few would do that.
And it’s world over. We often think people in the West have nothing to be worried about, that they’re aren’t judged the way we are… turns out, this is a mirage. The West is battling their own set of sociological issues. Just the other day, Jennifer Aniston, from the hit tv-series F.R.I.E.N.D.S., penned a column on how the media has constantly hounded her for answers on pregnancy and body-shaming her. While the latter issue I’ll take up on another day, the former spells out the world’s obsession with pointing fingers, casting opinions on the uteri of women and aspersions on her dignity.
While I would call myself a ‘laid-back intersectional feminist’ and even though I don’t face such questions as of yet, please keep your nose out of my uterus.