A couple of evenings ago, I sat in the company of a couple of kick-ass women and three brawny beef eating thug cats. We women in that room were in our forties and each one of us led unusual lives in an Indian context. The nibbles offered up with the absinthe were a study in geometric shapes and the evening was memorable because of the subjects we discussed, predominantly: The large amount of intuition, intelligence and mental fortitude constantly required on our parts to break through the walls of cultural conditioning.
If I chose to write about some of the things we discussed that evening, then there are women who articulate the complexities of what I want to say so much better than I ever would. Therefore I’d like to take this as a reason to link to this excellent interview given by Sharanya Manivannan on what it means to think and live as an independent woman in today’s society.
I’ve deliberately chosen to place this particular interview here for a reason. Over the years I’ve had one too many of my married friends, seemingly modern but conservative enough to constantly do what is expected of them, tell me how independent they are: They drive alone to pick up their kid from school, they return from French class by bus all alone, they visit a mall alone… Their definition of their independence surprises me. Independence isn’t about doing something alone. It is a mindset you cultivate over time from questioning the status quo over and over again and deciding not to confirm because you have your own agenda for yourself and you know what you want, irrespective of whether you are within a partnership or not.
Single women too come into my life and almost invariably set up a competitive dynamic within the conversation. Their justification isn’t about their independence however, theirs is a desperation to cover up the inadequacy they feel about their solitary status by telling me how active, busy and social their lives are compared to mine, in other words, how much they are a part of society and how much they in turn are accepted by it. I wonder how much their need to justify is due to an ingrained almost unconscious belief that if you live alone, then something must be ‘wrong’ with you because presumably you don’t want to ‘grow up’ and accept the responsibility of marriage and motherhood.
Here is the link to Sharanya Manivannan’s interview >>>
And some extracts below:
Why should only one kind of relationship be the most vital? There are so many kinds of relationships you can have, as you pursue what society thinks of as solitude. But before that, you need to sit with yourself and hone that relationship first.
Personally, I’ve always had some kind of allergy towards marriage. Even when I was a kid, something about it, the way I saw it transform women, particularly in Tamil cinema, intuitively made me understand that it was not good for women.
You make active decisions to be better and kinder to yourself and more respectful. And what that means in real terms, you accept. For instance, you may go long periods without a partner, and that’s okay. Because why should the natural state of an adult be partnership? The feeling of being inadequate is something one needs to leave behind early on in this journey. You have the realisation that you’re not inadequate because you’re not partnered: in many ways you’re much more capable. So you build things for yourself in a way that you may not be able to if you have a partner.