Being Women

The Tag Of A Strong Woman – The Biggest Scam Of All

My mother – A strong woman, the epitome of strength and sacrifice

For me, until recently, my mother had been the strongest woman I had ever met. A homemaker from the time I recall, she has been the fulcrum of the family. Packing endless tiffins, tending to my father, us siblings, our academics, co-curricular activities—almost everything ran under her supervision. Even today, it’s been four decades, but I cannot imagine a day in the household without her.

But of late, I’ve been wondering: did she deserve to struggle at home all her life? I had once asked her, a postgraduate, why she didn’t have a job and why she didn’t look for one. And she had replied that my father and his family preferred her to be at home, and she didn’t wish to disappoint him.

A strong advocate of the financial independence of women, she forfeited her ambitions to make my father happy. She’s the epitome of sacrifice, isn’t she?

The mother of my spouse – Another example of a strong woman!

It goes without saying that for my spouse, it’s his mother who’s the strongest. And why not? As the eldest daughter-in-law in a joint family, she tended to her old parents-in-law, young brothers-in-law, husband, her children, other children, and many others. And not a word ever fell from her mouth. She took it all in stride, whether it was joy, sorrow, health, or sickness. An epitome of physical and emotional strength.

Working at home and also in the office makes a ‘strong woman’

I know of a few colleagues and friends who work at the office, work at home, and perform all household chores because their families don’t believe in hiring domestic help. And as they ran the show all by themselves, I and many of us often deemed them as ‘Strong Women’.

  • But what if my mother, someone who believes in sending their daughters to work, had put her foot down and insisted on working herself? Defied my father and her in-laws? Should she not have complained?
  • But then she would have ended up disappointing her spouse and his family, and then, let alone being strong, she would have been labelled an ambitious vamp.
  • Or what if my mother-in-law had refused to carry all that burden, reached out to her husband, delegated chores to other family members, and moved away from the joint set-up? I’m sure she would have been labelled the evil home wrecker. But she never complained.
  • If the friends I was talking about earlier insisted on some rest and outsourced their chores, would it make them any less strong?

The real definition of a strong woman

What exactly is the definition of a strong woman, then?

As per societal norms, I guess it’s a woman’s ability to turn a blind eye to the abuse of any kind, to tolerate more than what she can, to put her family ahead of herself, and to forego her aims and dreams to please her relatives. These, alas, seem to be the mark of her so-called ‘Strength’.

The moment a woman rebels, speaks up, reaches out, calls for help, and raises her voice rather than submitting meekly, she’s branded weak, wicked, vain, and callous. A selfish witch, concerned about her career and ambitions, is unwilling to adjust.

A woman who doesn’t complain but complies is deemed worthy of all the accolades

And over time, this sentiment has been very successfully etched into our mindsets. A woman who doesn’t complain but complies takes home the medal. For being the best wife, best daughter-in-law, best mother, and the best woman. Tags that follow us like shadows.

For me, there’s no particular definition of a strong woman; I mean, on what scale do you measure her strength?

‘Look, she’s patient; she slogs, she tolerates, and she barely opens her mouth. She is a strong woman.’ This is the biggest scam of all.

So, why are only women expected to be strong all the time? Also, have you ever wondered why the entire theory is the exact opposite for men?

(Note: This article was earlier published on Women’s Web)

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