The alchemy of womanhood


When I was a child, ‘woman’ signified nothing more than a gender distinction.

When is it that a girl grows up to be a woman?

Biologically, adolescence marks this transformation. But emotionally, it takes much more than adolescence to grow into the spirit of a woman. For ‘woman’ represents a higher order of emotional potential. The roles conferred on her by society and by nature demand a greater degree of maturity and resilience. A woman has a long journey ahead of her, in the quest for equilibrium.

I look at my own self and realize that I have undergone a silent metamorphosis in recent years. As life unfolds, the realization of how intricate the relationship between woman and society is, dawns upon me.

Given the complexity of a woman’s life, she persistently finds herself at the interface of conflict. The battle between being true to herself, and yet sustaining the integrity of society. A woman’s emotional make-up is of a more complex nature, and for its healthy sustenance, it banks on the integrity of society. The more fragmented a society is, the more complex is the nature of the consequent conflict generated in a woman’s life. It is therefore not surprising that many women are pushed to rebellion. That is but human. But how many of us would have the ability to expand the horizons of our mind, live on our own terms, and yet not disrupt the integrity of society?

It is in this context that my mind gropes for a reference that defines ‘woman’ for me.

In the modern world, there is the dire deficiency of such role models. One cannot find such references in celebrities of the modern world nor can one find references in day-to-day life. There is nothing of value I see in the glamorous lives of most women today. Nor is there anything of value in the women who don masks of traditionalism, embracing age-old traditions that earn them medals of morality and character. Like Anita Nair wrote in her book, the blood-red vermilion on their foreheads is nothing short of an emblem of their traditionalism and marital status.
A traditionalism that permeates no deeper than the surface of their skin.

My mind wanders to the past. Images of women come to my mind. Women in the villages and cities of India. On television screens and in real life. Women who nurtured traditionalism in their spirits. Traditionalism far removed from conservatism. Traditionalism that spilled into the external facets of their personality. They were women carved by the richness of the emotional spectrum of their lives. They were women with melancholic eyes for their eyes spoke of sorrows and struggles. But beneath those melancholic eyes, something vital glistened. It was this feminine spirit that defined ‘woman’ for me.

Like lamps lit up at dusk, the vitality of their souls lit up the darkness in their lives.

As I encounter circumstances and situations that pose emotional challenges of a more complex nature in my own life, I ask myself what it is that I want. And it is with peace that I choose acceptance of my circumstances. I now know that true freedom is within the mind. I choose to expand the horizons of my mind and act on more mature terms.

As impulsive disquiet and rebellion slowly give way to freedom and happiness, I find myself slowly stepping into the shoes of a ‘woman’.

Be a little more feminine. Not only does the woman have to be liberated from men, the man has also to be liberated from men. There is a great need for a men’s liberation movement – not liberation from women, but liberation from all the nonsense that has been taught to him down the ages: Be hard! Be steel! Don’t bend! Break but don’t bend! Man has been taught to be hard like a rock – man has missed much. And now women are following in the same tracks. It is a dangerous situation. If the woman also follows the man, she will be a second-rate citizen, she will never be equal to man. And not only that: if she follows man and becomes hard, as lib women ARE becoming – their faces are becoming hard, their bodies are losing roundness, softness, vulnerability, they are becoming more and more angry and less and less loving – the danger is that that will be the end of the whole of humanity, if it happens. The only hope for humanity is in the quality of feminine – the only hope. The hope is not with Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini: the hope is with Buddha, Chaitanya, Meera – with a totally different kind of people. And we have to turn men and women BOTH into a kind of feminine lovingness.



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