Can Meghan Markle be held responsible for the split of the Royal Household, something that the esteemed family has never seen or heard before, in years now? Yes, she’s married to Prince Harry. Yes, she gave up her successful career as a television personality before this marriage. Yes, she is conceiving with their first child. Yes, she’s divorced before. Yes, she’s not had any royal lineage. Yes, their’s been a controversial marriage. Yes, she looked like a very ambitious person. Yes, she is a woman. Can one single person be blamed for something as mere as an event of living separately than the entire family? It’s just a way of leading a life, after all, is not it? Well, well — we are all making this a gender issue again. But, that is the whole point. How much of the decision gets affected by the fact that Meghan’s husband would have to take, even if only in the name of love? Would leaving a marriage be a very difficult choice to make, instead of leaving a royal home? Or are we all just reading too much into everything? Like, in this moment.
Meghan’s just an example. Stories about women, who’ve had to hear they should not be sent off to a bigger place, with more exposure because they’ve lost ground and got a mouth is everywhere, right in front of everyone, right around everyone as a faint voice, from beneath the plateaus and between the crevasses. They’ve always had to put in more effort, crush their immediate choices in the look for a longer goal. Stories about such women, without them being party to the conversations are also indispensable. It gives people like me a perspective. Why do I seek out to defend a random TV star, whose show I’ve never really seen and whose marriage least affects me and my life, merely because she’s also a woman? There again, the gender bias. It’s as penetrating as the imbecile, almost latent gender negative bias. The kind you and I believe in. It’s frustrating to come up with a gender equality conversation all the time, frankly. It’s as of you’re asking for sympathy without wanting to admit you are. Every time we feel the need to call out a success story of a woman, and label it as one, we are also pushing the empowerment envelope a bit too hard.
As I’m writing this, a lot of thoughts are flowing across my mind. I’m digging into my memory lane for anecdotes so that I can share them with you but I’m also conscious it’d make me seem like a hypocrite. And why not? I am basically advocating against telling a ‘women- story’ when I’m about to do just that. I’ll give you the difference, after you’ve read this though.
Somewhere, in my first year out of graduate school, in the middle of a conversation with a friend about debates back in grad school, he told me how the fourth wave of feminism was taking shape , that too, in our Alma-mater as a certain female junior was convening the incumbent version of the school’s national debate competition rounds. His argument had hit me. But I would not lie, at that moment, I nodded with him, laughed about it and brushed it away. I was probably trying to cover my embarrassment and utter failure as a senior debating team member back in school, from every time I was never given positions of responsibility in managing people, because a group of my counterpart boys thought I could not do it. Probably they were right. I’d been terrible with people, especially with managing them. You’ve got to be famous to be a leader, not infamous. But, was he right about smirking off on this junior as well? Was she infamous too? I did not think so. She’d been excellent in her debating career so far and largely supported by her friends and batch mates alike. She’s shown some mettle. Right from the day she fought against being last in the queue only because a ‘senior’ had commanded it. Then why the joke about her abilities as a convenor? Just because this time around the decision had to be made from a girl’s hostel room? I had made peace with my answer, but only in my mind. I was happy that things were changing. So, one day I decided and brought it up- I wrote to her- told her how happy I felt she was the boss lady and how happy I felt she was going to the first girl convenor ever. You know what she had to say to me, “ Honestly, I feel a little weird everyone’s making this some sort of achievement. It’s only a post, I am taking up”. This shook me more than the comment my friend had earlier made.
She had not said it in as many words but I knew what she meant to convey. The idea was I had congratulated her for being the first woman who got the post, not the first debater. I had learnt, gender recognition has taken away from her merit instead of adding to it. It’s not untrue that she would have had to fight a little extra to be there and that’t totally and only because she is a girl but who cares about the efforts if the outcome is not desirable. The idea was to not recognize her as a girl at all. The idea remains to not separate the achievement from the achievers. The idea wishes to congratulate the victory, not highlight the odds that could have defeated it. The idea remains to put weight toward the outcome, irrespective of the effort.
I understand, a lot of you reading this would argue against this line of thought , especially the ‘no credence to effort’ part. My aim is not to undermine efforts put in and the value of having the courage to participate that one brings onto the table for it. My thought is to try and separate the notion of effort that simply doubles because of a gender bias, and have it impact the result, despite the blatant truth, it really might do. Now again, this scenario is different from putting girls and boys on the same pedestal and have them fight their physicality under the same rules, because that’s biologically different. That will propel a different school of thought altogether. I only tend to have a few sets of eyes roll over actions like maintaining separate compartments in public transport, having dedicated queues in offices, highlighting dedicated awards in corporate functions and enlisting tabloids of all women- achievers only. Empowerment must not intend to alienate. It must only empower.
Now, I am a woman and I’ve faced gender bias like every other woman faces in her own way. I would go on to say that having come from a conservative place accentuates the frequency of my experiences as a woman. It’s deplorable and detested. Opportunities and recognition like junior most woman achiever in office is heartening, applaud worthy and makes up for lost confidence. But, what it also does it to only have me compete against my women counterparts. Besides being acknowledged as a woman achiever, which in a corporate setup, given the same conditions of work should naturally not exist, my worth as a performer gets overshadowed. I’d be known more as woman, less as an employee. I feel, that’s where the problem lies. I feel, that’s where I feel less deserving, less of a human.
A small controversy about a woman getting married into a royal household leading to its separation does not take away from the fact that the royal household chose as much to break away from her, the woman. The woman alone, for being a woman, for being married, for living in a house not hers since birth, is not responsible. May be Meghan is responsible, as a human, whose family relationship just did not work out well. May be not. Who knows?
What we do know however is more often that not, we blame womanhood. And we make exceptions for them. But that only makes the gender more susceptible to questions, empowerment and above all, pity. It does not need all of that. Being a woman does not have to be congratulated and celebrated. It’s just a way of life one has been born into. What comes with it is part of the biology, not the limitations. It’s just human after all. Isn’t it?