Women don many avatars, and being wives and mothers are but two of these. These are roles many women look forward to playing, but with one difference — in a manner and timing of their choice. Equally, they may choose to marry or not marry at all.
But of the many stereotypes women fight, the one that seems most prevalent is about the woman being ‘settled’ only when certain conditions by societal judges (much like the moral police) are met. The societal judges come in many garbs, including the stereotypes of progression (the affluent, educated etc.). Probably the most popular notion of the woman being ‘settled’ is of her having borne a child, or maybe when she’s borne a designated number of children and maybe, more specifically, of the gender that such judges may prefer.
That Rajdeep Sardesai asked the question of Sania in his interview is only incidental. Rajdeep, in my mind, is an extremely respected and accomplished individual who may not have intended to slight Sania or any other woman. His gracious and prompt apology to Sania is a testament to that. He even went on to candidly admit that he would never have asked this question of a male athlete.
Given how prevalent this issue is, it is apparent that many such judges are not even conscious of the fact that they are judging the woman. The point of focus, however, is that it’s time the woman herself sets her criteria and judges for herself if and when she is ‘settled’. She is the best judge (pun intended), as she knows and sets her own personal and professional objectives. Like those who seek to judge her, she too is an independent person with a mind of her own.
This is about respect for the individual and her independence. We are past the age of physical slavery and bonded labour, and it’s about time we go past the mental ‘ownership’ by others of our lives and let people be who they truly are or wish to be.
With due apologies to Rajdeep again, he went on to ask Sania where she may ‘settle’. This, to my mind, is a case of a locational stereotype. On an aside and on a lighter note, a colleague was once asked where he resided and he replied, “In the cloud”. In today’s connected world and with the extent of personal and professional travel we do, geography has indeed become history.
From my personal experience, I could relate to how Sania may have felt upon being asked those questions, and also to why she chose to respond the way she did. Having broken the golden ’30-year-old’ rule to bear my child (who is still on the way) and by virtue of operating in two different locations, with my startup based in India and home in New York City, I too am asked the ‘settling’ down question very often. In my personal experience, I have never felt more settled, as the feeling of being ‘settled’ is a result of identifying and pursuing a purpose in your life.
Sania quite correctly concluded the stereotype with the following remark, in jest, “No matter how many Wimbledons we win, or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become ‘settled’.” Her statement was not about just her own situation and not one made to Rajdeep the anchor; she spoke on behalf of millions of women to the even larger number of societal judges, seeking that women be respected for who they are and wish to be.
It is time people understand that the only thing that needs ‘settling’ is the ‘unsettled’ minds of people who have created and perpetuated this stereotype for women.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)