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My last talk and book read was in Singapore. There wasn’t much about the book or my schizophrenia that I spoke off but about parents, families, patriarchy and of course mothers.
The past one month of my journey from Bangalore – Malaysia – Medan – Yogjakarta – Jakarta – Singapore – Mumbai – Pune was spent around more mothers or Shaktis or women in their own right yet I came to notice the tremendous amount of patriarchy that still dictates many of our lives. Whether it is the lady bartender, the salesgirl, the stewardess or the elderly couple sharing my cab.
As most of you who have my book would know the dedication I have made in it is to all ‘Mothers’, though the book would come across as my own biological mother being messed up which is no different than most mothers. We might assume there is matriarchy but it has existed in response to patriarchy and not by itself.
I’ve felt more of a woman in me in the past 1 month and not as my regular childlike being as I’ve had to protect & preserve myself at many levels I did see coming. I was ready for it but just unaware about the circumstances it came in. Physically, racially, politically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, creatively and definitely schizophrenically. Being all of this in different countries mean different things and every place had a different battle to face. Several times I asked myself ‘If I would breakdown and cry just for the heck of it would it make me any less strong a person people now see me as? or am I to play a goddess who has it all together? Isn’t this what society still comes to?
It is an overwhelming state to realize that suddenly everything has changed, including your own perception of how you got yourself here and everyone else’s. It is a realization that being a woman who is different at so many levels is insanely difficult. And when it comes with a public image everything and anything you do or say will be used against you and your family. After which you are still somehow filled with a requirement for explaining why you would write or say things that would come across as ‘defaming’ your loved ones.
Truth be brought to the surface, you will not find a man having to explain himself so much to his family or friends if he had to tell his story publicly. It is not necessarily so that the family or friends even ask for it, but as a woman you know patriarchy exist all around when you find yourself having a role so important to play that it dictates everybody’s perception and rejection of your family. And you know this sounds no less than ‘You are a girl. You carry the family’s honour if your vagina is washed and spoken about in public’.
Even the type of bra I wear with a particular shirt for a particular occasion has to be meticulously thought of the night before because there are men in general who would find every reason possible to look and leech. And for this ‘dressing’ up, even a panty line that shows can draw attention therefore we take the help of other women while we prepare ourselves to face the world. How many men need to pick their shirts out in the fear their nipples or bra would call for unwanted attention?
Sportswomen and any girl who exercises is succumbed to the fashion generation of tight sports bra that constricts and tightens our entire diaphragm and shoulders making it so difficult to breath, while men can wear cotton pants any time of the day with sudden sightings of identified flying boners? (honestly guys…it is pretty gross. Many of us don’t want to see your willy’s.)
I think about patriarchy that still exist and has dictated my all too many ‘mothers’ and how they’ve chosen silence, for I saw myself doing it. Language and communication for a woman is yet very differently laid. It doesn’t matter what her intentions might be but the manner in which she communicates will always be in question and dictates all her relationships.
I saw myself giving healing and speaking about spirituality but then I also saw how when the same thing is said by a man it seems to have a stronger impact and is believed to be the way.
I saw how a woman can come up with an idea but it’s put aside as invaluable. The same idea will be taken by a man and it becomes an amazing business proposal.
I see how my mentors who are fighting for every other persons human right and freedom are questioned so often about their feminism, their colour, their sexuality, their loyalties, their families, their intelligence, their governance, their authority, their never ending list…
BUT I see how everyone else will clap when a man gives them freedom and human rights that is being fought for every day by these very women.
I see how cleanliness is not a man’s thing and was always depicted as a woman’s thing because for obvious crazy reasons, a period stain on a toilet seat or floor is considered yucky and a woman has to clean it up whereas a boy or man at any age can sprinkle all over the seat and leave it at that. Then I see how these roles are either reversing or the acts are going unnoticed because no one wants to open their mouths because they don’t want to appear to be controlling.
I see how a father stops his control due to old age but allows it continue through a son or a son-in-law. And I see how a mother continues in silence passing down this trait as a self-defence mechanism to her daughters.
I see the choice of being a spinster is questioned all the time while being a bachelor for a man is a sacrifice to humanity.
I see that my future choice of having a kid outside of marriage will bring about doomsday for everyone around me including myself, because despite seeing myself as an Ardhanareshwar I still have a womb to think about that I will alone carry irrespective of who the father would be. And with this very statement, my entire existence will be questioned again.
I see how my choice of leaving home for a spiritual life is and will always be in talk whether out of curiosity or out of judgement but when a man does it there is no question about it. My mom always did say ‘It’s easy for a man to leave home no matter what he does or chooses. You’re a girl. You can’t just leave.’
Her words do hold true because men are not raped and abused at so many levels as often as every woman is. Even for a woman to practice spirituality she needs to be in a sheltered space or have enough money to walk around with Rottweilers. She still needs to be clothed and be soft spoken. She will only be accepted if she is fair, gentle and pleasing to everyone’s ways.
I can write a long list of the past month but I don’t need to, as this is a repeat many of us need to face every single day questioning our womanhood and wondering where did we go wrong or what is it that we need to do just to be able to have the same needs, luxuries and freedom as that of a man. This is a repeat many women before me would see being made as a broken tape recorder but isn’t it significant enough for us to notice that something is fundamentally still wrong with how women have been and continue to do so?
This isn’t about my schizophrenia or my book but the voices of many women I meet in my talks. And I wonder if they go back doing the same things and being the same women expected of them because outside of their comfort group no one will really get them. They do not have the energy or time to ‘fight’ and stand for any free rights even if they wanted to cause ‘Its too late’. And if they suddenly begin talking about their rights, they are going to be questioned about it and stopped from attending any such talks. They would be said to be brain-washed by feminist jargon and/or repeating what another woman is saying when they should be home doing their stuff. So they have to be subtle and diplomatic about it. Strange isn’t it?
There is one thing my mom did tell me when I wanted to disappear and wander off to find my spirituality and look for guides. She said ‘It is easy to go there and feel you have freedom to do what you want. But it is only an escape. Learn how to do it in your own home first before going out to learn’ (I rephrased her words to suit the needs of my educated English readers as her sentence formation in English isn’t considered a sign of intelligence).
Her above advice didn’t ring a bell when I was busy being a hateful teenager but I now see how I often paraphrase her words in my talks and life.
Being a mental health advocate began at home for me. It’s the most dangerous place on earth for any woman to advocate for anything. From the many stories of activist and advocates I have read, heard of, and met, there is something all too common about our stories. We either have to leave our families, find a way to come back to them (if truth stands with us) and we are often alone at doing it. Most people will not understand why we live the way we do and how we alter between our various shades. It comes across as the ‘mood swing’ of women activist and advocates because there is no other language people will understand and it is tiring to knock sense in most. But it’s taught me by biggest lesson that I repeat till date:
“If one can’t change one’s circumstances at the space that is to give you security, comfort and support then nothing we do outside of it will ever work long enough for actual change. Change begins at home.”
Again my very statement makes me think if I am being too hard on myself as a woman. Am I vomiting the exact thing society expects of women like us who come across as being bold and crazy and intimidating and what nots. Am I still having to be in this multitasking super avatar role placed on us? Why do I have to think so much ahead of time about everything in my life including my home, my family, my friends, my financial security, my hygiene, and my physical health just so I can create an actual being inside of me some day?
To me and others like me, we are unfortunately or fortunately the women who have to shoulder this burden. This is reality and this is life…schizophrenic or not. We are daughters of failed controlled empaths who didn’t know their empathetic natural instincts needed to be balanced by an ego of their own, as women are not allowed to have one. So our mothers developed one through their fathers and then their husbands which acted as this so called ‘balance’ society said women needed to only perpetuate more control on their empathetic side that they actually end up losing it.
Their feelings are not their own anymore as it is dictated by another ego. Therefore they are told how they should feel and how they should respond to a particular situation. Daughters like us fight through our reflective egos that have naturally come from our fathers. And the ones who go crazy are those who mirror their father’s ego and thus we become the aggressive ones who come across as being the men of the household. Soon enough our fathers can’t speak in front of us because it is nothing but his own ego multiplied to a thousand times combined with a highly volatile emotional package from our mothers.
After crazy comes a period in time for rebelling. The rebel is the real you trying to move away from your father’s ego and your mother’s empath. And you will hear ‘You are just like your mother or you are just like your father’ all the time. Soon enough you have accumulated enough labels and become the avatar of Taboo in society because what you really are doing is searching for your own ego state that is devoid of a patriarchal & matriarchal imprint so that you can recreate a different environmental make up for your daughter.
This does apply to sons and our brothers too, but there is a very thin line which is a very strong line that separates them from us and that is the womb…the space in us that allows creation and the same space in us that dictates our lives. Some of us move away from not wanting to utilize that space but for many of us we all do.
So my question is…what are all of us to do now? This isn’t the responsibility of one woman, or one goddess, or one shakti, or one mother, or one daughter, or one sister, or one friend, or one lover. This is a responsibility all of us have to make be it man or woman for human evolution is happening at the speed of thought.
I am sick of hearing people think they can justify my needs, my wants, or my assertiveness as: Resh has schizophrenia therefore she can have a child outside of marriage and sleep with whoever she wishes too…it must be a symptom…or the voices must have told her to talk back to her father…blah blah blah..
I simply expect people to get it in their mortalized patriarchal heads that I am a woman despite how many other roles or alters I have, that I am free and able to decide who I wish to sleep with, who I wish to have a child with and that I am not answerable to anyone apart from my own womb.
Why have I written so?
because ladies…as my publisher herself had said…’I might be a feminist who is married to a man and have kids but whether we like it or not we still live in man’s world’
And it is difficult to be a woman in a man’s world. Period (yes a pun!)