How often have you sat across the table with your friends over a glass of drinks and spoken about a particular woman, and labelled her as a strong, independent woman? A woman who you may look up to and admire? Who are these independent women? Where do we find them? And lastly, how do normal women become ‘independent women’?
For a bunch of people out there, being an independent woman brings images of strong-willed working women, earning the big bucks, suited up in formals, sweeping board meetings in their pointy heels and basically defying the fact that a woman unquestionably needs a man to support her throughout her journey, her life. Some may say, these women or the independent women culture is only found in the metropolis, where liberal mentality prevails, where freedom of choice and choosing a career over marriage or children is given priority.
So let’s get down to business. What is defined as independence? According to the Collins Dictionary, independence is freedom from the influence of others; being financially self-reliant; capable of acting for oneself on one’s own. Independence is not partial. Independence does not pertain to a particular gender. Independence is a state of mind. If all this is true, why do we always conveniently prefer to stamp the label of ‘independent women’ on that category of single women who work at big corporates, but not on those majority of women who are married, have a perfectly happy family, have kids, take care of all the household needs and also, not to forget, earn and support the family financially?
I choose to call any woman, working or not, married or not, staying in the metropolis or not, an independent woman. Why? Because she is entitled to this right, a birth right. As a matter of fact, this is not a competition between a man and a woman and their constitutional right or some feminist propaganda. It’s just a take on the general mentality that if a woman is married, it is assumed that she automatically becomes dependent on her husband. I spurn such foolish talk. Moreover, I pity the men who become the scapegoats of such nonsense. Within a fortnight of marriage, men start to fatigue, thinking of themselves as multifunctional robots that have to take on the cumbersome responsibility of ATM machines, drivers, and shopping bag holders and may be, in certain scenarios, agony aunts to their wives. And what’s worse? The poor men fall prey to the typical Hindi phrase- Joru Ka Ghulam! Pity them!
So how do we produce more of such independent women? Well, there’s good news. Independent women are everywhere; your mother, your sister, your wife or your friends. These are all women who need to be nurtured, empowered and supported, not by men alone, but by the whole community. Educate women, teach them the basic life skills, teach them to drive their own vehicle and not be dependent on their fathers or boyfriends or husbands to take them around, push them to work and be financially independent, and teach them self-defense skills so that they can protect themselves when in danger.Teach them that filling bank slips and carrying out financial transaction is not just a man’s job. And most importantly, teach the men to not subdue, but to be that added support to the women in their lives to achieve their dreams and make an identity for themselves. It’s time to teach women to be independent. It’s time to remove the shackles of conservative, male-dominated, stereotypical mentality and provide a more definitive soul to women. It’s time to sculpt and chisel their being.