Millennium Post

Let women be

Decisions made by women continued to create debates this week; but who are we to tell people how to lead their lives?

This week, as in many other weeks, a few good women decided to follow their hearts. And the rest of society gave them Hell for it. 18-year-old actor Zaira Wasim decided to quit movies, making her decision known through an emotional social media post. Around the same time, newly anointed TMC MP and actor, Nusrat Jahan showed off her 'sindoor' after her recent inter-religion marriage apparently drawing the ire of fundamentalists. It was purely incidental that both ladies happened to be Muslims. This same patronising attitude is the malaise of our society. It's an inherent habit, an addiction, an uncontrollable itch in some people to either try to play saviour to women from unforeseen persecution or crucify them for their decisions. Either way, it is always us 'women' listening to 'men' (and some incorrigible women too) telling us what to do.

Women, most forget, have a fantastic mind of their own and are absolutely capable of handling their own affairs. Yes (if you're asking), even Muslim women are well aware of their rights. So, if young Zaira wants to leave acting, devote herself to her religion or simply fall off the map and bum around on the beach, that really is her own prerogative. Oh! The youth and restlessness of the waning teens. How we all miss those years of endless self-introspection, scratching off of life's goals, and creation of new ones…sigh! And remember, in most cases, wearing the hijab or the burqa is as much a matter of choice as the decision to discard it. So, let the young woman lead her life the way she deems fit. Leave her be.

Similarly, if a freshly married woman in an inter-religion marriage decides to showcase inclusiveness, it's her choice to do so. Frankly, inclusiveness and open-mindedness are a sight for sore eyes in the public arena. We need young leaders from various fields of life to lead from the front on inclusiveness. To show that it is possible to celebrate various religions and beliefs equally and not one at the cost of another. Nusrat knows what she's doing. Leave her be.

Don't we, as a society, just love to tell people and women, in particular, how to lead their lives! We rub our hands in glee, smirk to ourselves and gossip among one another (in today's world, Twitter does the job quite seamlessly). We rebuke, ridicule, reprimand unknown people for their choices because we feel entitled to do so. I love the saying, "your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's nose begins." But we just can't seem to keep our noses out of other's business, can we?

For years, women have politely accepted suggestions, criticisms, and especially unsolicited advice from all and sundry, even their neighbours! But thankfully, as much as this interference increases, so must the assertion of women. We are masters and mistresses of our own designs; living lives that we have selected for ourselves. Neither do we have to be apologetic for our choices nor is any justification needed. What we wear, where we work, who we love, are all our decisions. And like religion, these are all private conversations with the self, and honestly, none of anyone's business!

(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. Views expressed are strictly personal)

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