Friday, March 13, 2015

What Will People Say

As a little girl, as a teenager, as a young woman, and well, even now, I've always run into a familiar conversational trope "what will people say". It was by far one of the most trying things, and also the most ridiculous. To me, it seemed like I was living under the scrutiny of these "people" and for some reason, their opinions mattered and, more importantly, governed my every day life.

I could never understand why "people" were more important. And after these conversations there was one thought I never articulated - WHO are these people? I mean, do I know them? Would I be able to spot them in a crowd? Do they have names? Why are we so afraid of, and so terribly bothered by, these people? Do we owe them money? Do they know some deep, dark, unmentionable secret about us that we have to live our lives in terrible fear of their knowledge?

I never really asked my family all this, and in the few choice instances that I did, I got the line about how we weren't living in isolation and we had to face "people" and it was important to be above reproach. Again, with the damn people!

I never got it. I don't get it. I don't think I ever will.

Clearly, these "people" aren't going away. They seem to be at the crux of every discussion we're having today. Take, for instance, that young girl who was brutally beaten on the streets by her police inspector father. His reasoning was that she was having an "affair" and had brought "shame" on the family and there was no way that she was going to get away with it. His solution was to force-marry her to some random they had picked out for her. Once again, the "people" won.

The worst outcome of "what will people say" is not the violence that girls and women experience in this country, it's the hypocrisy that's masked in the shroud of "IDGAS about what people say". Not only are the people who loudly proclaim this liars of the worst sort, they're also hiding their deference to convention in a statement that's more dangerous and detrimental than "what will people say".

The worst affected by the 'what will people say' adage are, of course, women. I know of many other affected parties, but I am not living their reality, so I will have to focus my angst on the territory that I am familiar with. I don't want to generalise on something unfamiliar to me and then get called out for being ignorant and so on.

Like I was saying, the worst affected are women. Why you ask? For one, people seem to care an insane amount about whether it's appropriate for a girl to wear jeans, carry a cell phone, be single, have male friends/acquaintances/colleagues, have an education, sanitation, etc. There's so much a woman can and cannot do, and practically all of it is countered with the "what will people say" tag.

Why does it matter so much? This social approval? Are these people around when you're in crisis? Do they celebrate your joys and mourn your sorrows with you? Are they the support you need to live life knowing that you're no alone in this world? I don't think so.Living in fear of judgement basically limits us from being happy. The constant worry of someone else's opinion on our life leaves no room for joy. And that's a sad way to live.

1 comment:

  1. you know what, this tag is applicable for the women because the image of a woman is totally damaged. She is judged and she has got used to being judged. I feel, we have a serious issue with everything that portrays a woman in our society. We are projected as weak, subdued and more so, victims! Maybe, someday this image will need a make over.Let's hope that day arrives!

    I wrote something on similar lines: