Switch on the television and browse through any Indian Channel. You’ll notice, and this is interesting, that every daily soap that you’ll come across has at least one female character who’s the devil incarnate. Be it the orthodox mother-in-law, clingy ex-lover, conniving aunt or a back-stabbing friend. And it’s not just in the recent times that women have been depicted as the source of evil power play in our stories. The dark side of women can be traced back to Manthara’s foul influence and Kaikeyi’s raging ambitions in Ramayana, Draupadi being famously blamed for the brutal Mahabhatara War, and Soorpanakha’s horrendous advances on Lakshman seeming to have sparked off another famous epic. You might want to dismiss them as mere stories and question the authenticity of the depiction of women at a time when patriarchy was the rule of the city. But the truth is, women have a dark side too. And you’ve probably experienced this side of women in your lives as well.
Now before you start typing out that hate mail with stories of Hitler and Stalin, let me just clarify that both men and women have dark sides. No matter how equal we want our genders to be, there are some qualities that are instinctive to each gender. No, I am not talking about parallely parking a car or making round rotis. I’m referring to the characteristics unique to us as women. So, let’s explore our darker side, shall we?
We all know women who cannot finish a sentence without a hint of sarcasm. We also know women who sugar up in front of us and spit the ugliest vile behind our backs. Then there are those who hold grudges for ages and those who secretly hate our guts. These women aren’t ‘bad people’, they are simply people having a ‘bad time’. Words like jealousy, contempt, selfishness and suspicion are often associated with the female kind, and that’s O.K. Let’s own it. Yes, we all slip down the dark path at some time or the other. But that’s our composition. And, it all stems from one word: competition.
Women have been in constant competition since times immemorial. While men compete for power and greed, women compete for love and acceptance. Men have always been attracted to beautiful women. And so, we instinctively hate every beautiful woman we meet. (Then we get to know her and become best friends). But our initial reaction when we see a truly gorgeous woman is thinking how easy her life must be. We detest her flawless skin and perfect waist. We wonder if our men would rather be with her than us. We put her up on a pedestal and compete against our own expectations of perfection.
We compete with the younger generation and envy the opportunities we never had, we compete with the older generation trying to prove that we are equally competent. We compete with the generations to come and we compare how easy their lives will be, thanks to our sacrifices. But worst of all, we compete with ourselves. We are so attuned to striving for perfection that we tune out when our body warns us and begs us to slow down. We want it all, the perfect career, the perfect house, the perfect kids. We want to be beautiful by wearing the same outfits that actresses wore in movies, we want to be our partners’ center of attention, we want our kids to always depend on us, we want our friends to include us in all their plans. And in this fierce competition with ourselves and everything around us, we become bitter.
That’s not a very pretty shade now, is it? These high standards that we set for ourselves, become a benchmark that we weigh every woman against. If she seems happier than us, if her husband cooks her a meal every now and then while ours sits glued to the television, we become bitter. If she succeeds at a work event because she has a strong support system that lets her stay back late at work, we label her a ‘workaholic’. We assume that she isn’t a good mother, we assume that she has things easy, and we become bitter.
The only way to get over this bitterness is to stop the comparison.
Women have always been driven by jealousy, ambition and the need to be in control. But trolling someone else and spewing negativity where it shouldn’t be, is not the right way to channel these emotions. As you grow older and feel your youth slipping away, the hold of these dark self-incriminating thoughts will get stronger and stronger. Don’t fight it. Yes, your skin won’t always be taut, your breasts won’t always be perky, your hair won’t always be lush. And that’s OK. Stop figuring out a way to your man’s heart. Instead, find a way back to your own. Own your space and then go and be the support of the numerous other women who need souls like you by their side. You are not superior to them, you are not inferior to them. Just be the best that you can be, and let affection find its way to you.
Your dark side is a part of you. But don’t let it become your identity. Power through the negativity, you glamorous, gorgeous Goddess.
Kindness is not a weakness.
Vedangi Dandwate (Writer)