My name is Tanvi. I am an Indian.
I am nineteen years old, and I am a woman.
But before I am all these things, I am a person.
I am a living, breathing, warm-blooded creature, with feelings and beliefs and opinions and dreams, and more than anything else, the freedom to choose what makes me happy.
My society, however, looks at me like I’m the perfect combination of a fuck-toy and a baby making machine.
All my life, I’ve been told over and over, that the purpose of my existence in this world is to procreate. It doesn’t matter how much or how little I achieve, it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m kind and sensitive. It doesn’t matter if I’m not a good human being. As long as I have a baby someday, I matter. That is the beginning and the end of my story.
I am respected, revered, even worshipped, but all of those things because I’m a woman. When will I be treated like the person that I am? Be recognized for my strengths, loved for my idiosyncrasies, admired for my heart and soul instead of my boobs and my ass and my ability to give birth? And honestly, I’m tired. I’m tired of being looked at like a piece of meat, like how Sylvester imagined Tweety each time he looked at him – a grotesque reminder of our childlike innocence that went away somewhere around the time Barbie dolls became a part of the pop culture. Like a walking, talking vagina that happens to be connected to a body.
Oh, respect women. Respect women, because they are mothers and daughters who will give your sons children. Respect them because they’re goddesses, didn’t you know they are capable of this miracle called childbirth? And of course they’re humans, which is, you know, equally important, I guess.
Surrounded by unrealistic standards of beauty, which seem to be the only quantification of our worth these days, I don’t even know what is expected of me anymore. Because if you’re a woman, there’s just no winning at anything. You’re either overdressed or careless slob, either too fat or anorexic, too tall or a midget, too bold or colourless and dull, too bossy or a submissive coward, too much of everything or little of it all, but never, ever really enough.
And it makes me want to run to the rooftops and scream my fucking lungs out – I AM ENOUGH. I am complete and whole within and without, and I don’t need a vagina or a baby or a stellar figure for a stamp of approval from society. Because you know what, I don’t need your approval to be able to love myself anyway.
Women who have children are enough.
Women who don’t have children are enough.
Women who have children via surrogacy are enough.
Women who have children and stay at home are enough.
Women who have children and have careers are enough.
Women who were born in a body they didn’t identity with are enough.
Women who have a penis instead of a vagina are enough.
Women who don’t wear make up are enough.
Women who are attracted to other women are enough.
If you identify as a woman, you’re woman enough.
I refuse to call us brave or extraordinary or wonderful or amazing just because we are women – we are all those things, yes, but because we’re splendid human beings. Our womanhood is separate from our humanness. It does not depend on the way we dress, look, talk, and act; it does not depend on whether or not we have female sexual organs. Honestly, get over it already.
My name is Tanvi. I am an Indian.
I am nineteen years old, and I am a human.
And if that doesn’t suffice for you, you can suck it.
Tanvi Deshmukh is a nineteen year old girl from Pune, India, with an affinity for words and books, cats and coffee, Nepalese food and hippie music, and the colour green (along with Oxford commas). Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English, she loves poetry, volunteers at an NGO and plays the keyboard in her free time. Along with devouring books of all kinds, unless of course, she’s in the middle of heated discussions on feminism, patriarchy, gay rights, or what to name the neighbour’s new dog.