Our society and culture discourage women to excel and move ahead professionally. It takes me years to understand but I am thankful that I finally can. Having grown in a relatively evolved family, thankfully with no brothers, I felt I had not seen discrimination for women. Retrospectively I realize it was ‘conditioning’ or ‘normalizing’ which made me feel so. We normalize everything. Girls must stay indoors, love dressing up, play with dolls, smile often, cook well, be docile, predictable, safety-oriented, and not be fun-loving. I wonder why. I of course would climb pipes, escape quietly from home from the age of 6 onwards, ride a bicycle, race with a scooter or motorcycle, love to win in two-wheeler racing, sing loud, and play rough. I hit boys in my school when they troubled me even a little bit or said anything mean. They would surround me together in school and I would hit all 3 guys together, injure them and they would retire hurt. This happened several times. I remember their names, I remember the school and I know they were deviants. Little injuries stopped mattering by the time I was 10 years old. When I got my scooter at 18, I could race with anyone and have them fall or collide if I wanted. If they teased, said rude remarks and I heard, I would find a way to teach them a lesson, a very hard way. I would of course not leave a trace. That was the only way to do it in those days. I fought with and hit guys for my sister and my friends. I had conviction, strength, and confidence.
There was such a debate about how or why I should take Forensic Medicine as my career. I could think of nothing as better. The sense of justice, the power to face crime, courage to seek the truth, and fearlessness were unlimited. Retrospectively I love myself so much more than I did back then. I could dissect with intellectual curiosity and concentration. I wanted to be the best, the world’s best at my job. Tiredness, illness, restraint, and fear were unknown totally. Love and marriage thankfully were to an extraordinary and understanding person who knew equality and feminism. He was extremely comfortable to live with, added pleasure to life, and was extremely distinguished by his intellect, stamina to work, and one of the most evolved person I know. I never needed to consider changing my surname or consult him before making any decision. Independent thinking and working remained my assets. I could honor or refute any cultural practice or tradition. I never needed to dress up unless I wanted to. Physical appearance when going to work, family gatherings, public events, or a romantic dinner was never noticed. I felt at home with myself all along.
People in the world were different. Not getting ready the usual way a woman does, not being fond of expensive jewelry, not being desirous to look young or impressive, not being the regular obedient and agreeable woman, having a sense of humor and ready to display it unceasingly made me a sort of misfit.
A lot of people ‘belittle’ you in small ways or conversations taking the guise of ‘casual conversation’ or worse, ‘friendly exchange’. If a guy took as much as one hour of a teaching session you have learned nothing from, he begins to think he is your teacher and that you as a younger woman must respect him. That he was or is older than you, you automatically respect him for his age, whatever his behavior or intellect, or intention may be. If they pat you on your head or shoulder, you cannot take offense without their permission. They start to decide what was, what is, and what should be your comfort level with them. Even if they are wrong, it is wrong for you to point it out. Because they know better and they will say so if they want to. Your wrongdoing, your unpredictable behavior, your sudden lack of agreement with whatever they do was so not well-timed. That you should have said immediately or not much later is also what they decide. Then they doubt if you could really think for yourself and take any action on your own. That if it is not acceptable to them, it is not right. It makes me want to tell them to stop being ridiculous, to continue to operate on the women they oppress but to leave me alone, but sometimes I want to lash back loud and clear, and stay ‘stop’. No further, please. Let us all live in equanimity, with pride and laughter.