Known Devil? No Thanks.

Jyoti Shekar

Every being on this earth deserves kindness, compassion, respect and dignity. More so, if you are a human. Since humans have a developed sixth sense and because they live in the so-called ‘civilised’ societies, it makes it very easy for others to trample upon their dignity and increase their suffering. All because the entire ‘civilised’ society is based on one thing – acceptance by our fellow people.

We tend to categorize people and things. If we do not find them fitting into a known category, we get wary. And gender plays a big role here. When I say ‘we’, it encompasses all of us – you and me included.

Often, I have noticed myself compulsively trying to put people in categories.

Once, in one of my meetings, I met somebody who did not exactly fall in any gender role. For a moment, I was very restless. Do not take me wrong, I instantly took a liking to that person, but my mind automatically started searching for a category to put them in. It took a very conscious effort on my side to stop doing that. But I guess many of us struggle with that, but do not find any bandwidth in our mind to analyse it. And hence the resultant gender discrimination that happens. And it is only ‘we’ who can stop it. Not only ‘we’ the perpetrators, but more importantly, ‘we’ the victims. We teach people how to behave with us.

Feminism is an inherent concept. It is more an internal process than external. So if you cannot relate to other people’s concept of feminism or the big definitions around it, do not think you are not a feminist. If you believe in your rights and your own happiness that comes from within, then you are a feminist. If you believe in your right to walk on the road, to vote, to drive, to speak, then you are a feminist.

The question is how do ‘you’ want to live your life? What gives ‘you’ comfort, if not happiness? For example – there are women who want to conform to societal rules, not because they agree with them, but because they want to be accepted. I may not agree with that approach, but then to me, my freedom and independence has much higher value that other people’s opinion of me.

Let’s take a little more drastic example of a woman who lives with an abusive husband (drastic, but very common!). Though it is unacceptable, a crime even, and lots of us are fighting against gender violence, that woman stays in her ‘misery’ even if she complains of it to anyone who would listen.

Reason – FEAR.

She fears opening that door to freedom because she does not know what lies on the other side. She has been protected since childhood. Parents who drop her and pick her up from school, brother who escorts her to college, boyfriend who either is just like her father/brother and guards her jealously or is judged a predator by the family, and in the end, a husband who is abusive (because it is safe with him; she doesn’t have to go out and risk being abused by strangers, no?).

Now this woman fears everything outside. Job, money, emotional support, fighting the world filled with predators and what not.

The heart refuses to judge her and wants to remove that fear from within her. But the fight will go on. Till she herself steps out, even if for one second, and sees how beautiful the world actually is. It is not dark and grey all the time, like her ‘inside the home’ world has become. It is, in fact, full of colours, friendly people, opportunities and the best of all, freedom. Freedom to do and be what she wants, freedom to bring up her children (if any) in a positive and non-abusive environment etc.

Of course, there are challenges, but I believe these challenges are much smaller and easier to handle than her present situation. I speak from experience of being independent since I turned eighteen and living alone for the next eighteen years (with my parents’ solid emotional support, though). But this woman we speak about does not know what lies outside.

Just like a prisoner released after long years in jail. He takes time and struggles a bit to find his feet, but the world is his oyster after that. He can start his life afresh. A quick disclaimer here, a prisoner is just an example. not getting into anyone’s innocence or otherwise.

It is a choice, I guess, between the known devil and unknown stranger. A known devil is better than an unknown stranger is one of the worst sayings ever! Well, according to me at least. I personally like to bet on the unknown stranger, because there is less than 100% chance of him being the proverbial wolf. Known devils, on the other hand, are confirmed cases!

What will it be for you? Your choice can benefit or harm only YOU. With only one life to live, you deserve to step out and handle the unknown. 

So go out there, get a feel of the world, and live life like there is no tomorrow!

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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