So I have been reading IHM’s blog for almost 4 years now and have understood and learnt a great deal from it. Apart from her insightful write-ups on gender bias in contemporary India, it’s heartening to see that there are people who can write anonymously to her about multiple issues relating to gender discrimination and get very rational and unbiased opinions from multiple people who read the blog and care to comment and provide advice. Most of the times, the advice given out is to stand up for yourself and demand what is right and fair to you instead of accepting the status quo and other people’s discrimination.
In contrast to this, I see that a lot of people around me follow the ‘choose the path of least resistance’ or ‘learn to pick your battles’ mantras. Most people I know try to avoid conflict if possible. Some examples of this attitude in practice:
1. One of my friends, S, who got married last year doesn’t have a facebook account. She didn’t have one initially because she didn’t want interference from her family. Then she got married and made an account for a few months which she eventually deactivated. On being asked about this, she said “a lot of people are not ready to accept that I’m married and I can’t have party pics on FB… his family doesn’t know that I drink and might have a problem… he doesn’t have a problem but they might.. just playing it safe…” Now I know that having a facebook account or not isn’t really a big deal, but my problem is how she has to decide and live her life according to the in-laws’ expectations from her.
2. A lot of women who live overseas tend to wear jewellery and/or specific clothes when their in-laws are visiting. Their rationale being that since there are here only for a few weeks/months, it’s not worth the effort to argue over these things. Again, isn’t this violation of an individual’s freedom and choice? In principle, isn’t it wrong for anyone to have a say over how an adult wants to dress up?
3. On visiting India, most of my family wants me to dress up in certain ways because they feel that how I dress normally is inappropriate. First, it’s not like I wear short skirts and spaghetti or tube tops when I’m in India. But my tops apparently have a deep neckline! Secondly, as an independent and mature 27 year old, don’t I have the right to decide how and what I want to wear? Clothes that may seem appropriate to me may seem inappropriate to another person and vice versa. But what gives them the right to dictate what I wear?
And this brings me to the main question, should you fight people’s interference in your life and stand up for your rights? Or accept attitudes that are not too inconvenient to avoid conflict?
On that note, why do some people try so hard to avoid conflict? Why are people willing to sacrifice their personal space and individuality just to avoid conflict?