Real Women

Written By

Ushasi Sen Basu

Real Women Loading

I’m sure I’ve said this elsewhere. But what scares me is the idealization of women, same as their demonization. The whole ‘bitch, slut, retard’ approach can be dismissed quickly as hysterical ranting by people who fear women. What is more damaging is how society insidiously keeps us in our place by idealizing the ‘idea’ of women to such a rarified level that all women are somehow not good enough unless she  pretends to be a goddess with 10 arms.

This is doubly devious because these subliminal messages go out in the guise of being respectful of women and therefore not as easily rejected by us as the unabashedly misogynistic views.

Of course you understand what I’m saying but I’ll give you examples regardless, because I enjoy talking. All the “complimenting” of women on being multi-taskers — she keeps the home clean, she’s the CEO of her company, she dashes across town to have lunch with her kid and dashes back to work, she comes home and bakes low-fat cupcakes and is perfumed and perfectly coiffed for a night of wonderful romance with her still-love-struck-after-12-years-(“because she is as beautiful as the day I fell in love with her”) husband.

Do you feel complimented as a woman when you see this depiction? Or do you start dusting furiously immediately afterwards? (I have 20 more years to CEO and I really don’t feel like baking, so might as well dust this coffee table right here?)

What ostensibly applauds women sets such a high standard to aspire to that most are doomed to be failures all their lives. A man from the same milieu will be pleased as punch with himself, because he’s told he has to excel at only one or two of those things to be considered a success. So, he’s fine with being someone who drops wet towels on the floor or isn’t brilliant at his hobby. He’s comfortable in his skin because society watches him with a far more indulgent eye. He doesn’t have to be a million different things to a million different people to be a good man. “I have flaws” he shrugs. “Don’t all men?”

For women, this is where the denial sets in. I have met quite a few women who claim to have cleaning OCDs. She’ll complain, “I can’t sleep unless everything is washed and put in its place in exact right-angles with everything else. I’m telling you, it’s a curse!” Theatrical sighs. (The most annoyingly common humblebrag amongst women I’ve encountered.)

And then you drop in unannounced at her place and conclude she must’ve been seeing a very good psychiatrist, because she has been most emphatically CURED of her cleaning OCD for a good, long while; judging by the well-entrenched dirt on everything.

Some men I know sneeze in the most appallingly unapologetic fashion. HAAAchow, Haaan-CHOW! The women around them, embarrassed to even submit to a bodily function, will sneeze “Pish. Pish.” What the hell is that? Sneeze like a human being for god’s sake. Then there’s the whole ‘horses sweat, men perspire and women glow’ saying. I come from Calcutta and have not had the good fortune to meet any glowing women, though horses I seem to know in abundance.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Women are people too. Not abstract, idealized concepts. It’s important to be the best versions of ourselves, sure; but it’s less stressful once we admit that we’re not perfect.

…That we don’t have to be perfect to be good, worthy women; regardless of what society tell us.




Ushasi Sen Basu, 37, lives in Bangalore and is the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of She published her debut contemporary literary fiction novel, 'Kathputli’ in early 2017, in both Kindle and paperback formats. Ushasi has been a professional writer and editor for over a decade. She also has an unpopular blog called The Crib that pokes fun at everything, including herself. Ushasi (aka Shashi, "U" and 'You-Over-There') loves literature and music, and dances like nobody’s watching. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl, who is the joy of her life and grudging guinea pig for many of her parenting experiments.

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