Beauvoir's Second Sex and Maam's teachings on Patriachy

Mamta Lukram *

Beauvoir's Second Sex and Maam's teachings on Patriachy

A vibrant, fair looking lady is my Maam, with sharp eyes through the glass frames and greyish curly hair usually half let loose; an ultra-feminist who hate to see feeble 'woman selves' resigning everyday life to 'fate.' She strongly believes that we ourselves can change our fates; 'Man is the creator of their destiny,' 'Make yourself strong'. Her sharp looks conveying an expression querying multiple questions at one time was the scariest item, which everyday each of us would try to avoid, skipping eye contacts with her.

At the corridor, just in front of her room, we all would stand in queue, pinching and pushing each other to take the lead in entering her room for class. In her loud dominating voice, hours will she talk on gender, patriarchy, our lives, cultural constructs and social reality. Her sincere teachings gripped our attention and glued our understanding. However, in the post-class session each day; we would have a small tea party, refreshing ourselves from the stiffness; with the new ideas gained, we later evolved into lasting discussions.

The concept of woman as 'other,' not the 'self' was the crux where all the debate of how is to be a 'woman' kicks off. It's not the female self who describes who she is or should be. It is the social perceptions and expectations through the internalisation that describes how a female is expected to be an 'ideal woman.'

"Hail to this patriarchal world who defines who and how we should be! Hail to those defining constructs of the society! Who decides? Who Decides? Let we define our lives and develop a stratum of values how we expect of ourselves! Why Second?? Why Second Sex?? Come out yourselves from all those worn out values of believing yourselves as second standard human beings, you all have the rights to live all your lives to the fullest. Come on…Come on dear! we can hope for a changed world "

Her enthusiastic teachings inspired to take up gender studies in the future to assure for at least a step of change; however minimal the contribution may be for the better cause of women.

Seeking Inspiration for life

When the chemistry of intellectual growth acts and reacts vigorously; sleepless nights torture with wild drive to understand the essence and the beauty of the culture of my land. Seeking a tranquilising agent, one such night, Mangka Maynglambam's Folk song with unique folk rhythm was played to foster alive such irrepressible drives. With least understanding of the intrinsic meanings of the folk song, 'Thang-Thang Thangnaro,' a sketchy idea of the status, role and cultural significance of women in the society sprinkled.

The charm of the women seems to decodes with the softness, delicateness and submissiveness. Her gracefulness seems to lies in the soothing and nurturing the human relationships. The dichotomy of understanding a 'woman' start deciphering form this standpoint. Whether a failure to inherit these so called 'feministic qualities' puts under question to the quality of being a woman? Beauvoir's the concept of 'woman' not being born but 'made' juxtapose with striking note of how the idea of submissiveness portrays the quality of a woman.

Clifford Geertz's cultural analysis of 'thick description' and 'thin description,' where people themselves are the actors and at the same time vivid observer to identify from two similar acts, which one is fake conveying conspiracy signals and which one is original, laid the basic foundation of revisiting the prism of cultural fabrics for its refraction, to split its basic components.

Maam's teaching of Beauvoir's 'Second Sex' and patriarchy was the Greetz's 'thick description' to our young minds, strengthening the symbolic understanding of how we are expected and how we should as a 'woman.'

Being Weak and Pushed Aside

Being human, I have committed mistakes, intentionally or unintentionally. However, few times, I was purely confused determining the graveness of my mistakes, for which I was pushed aside without any warning. The explanation given was weakness. 'Weakness', then is an inexcusable deed. The concept of perceiving one as an imposition; a burden rather than a resource; for being a weak human poised here.

In response to a summon; once Maam made of me while I was striving within myself; mustered courage from the wrecking self, I stood in front of her. The very instant she saw me, she inquired about my welfare. I acted my best to convince her everything was fine, but it seems she have read my expression and persisted on her queries.

Unsatisfied with my answer;
"(with an exaggerated, restless expression in her loud dominating voice, with her right hands raising forward in a fist) …. What exactly has happened to you? Come on Dear! Just Come on! thousands time when I convince you, you are strong, you won't believe me, and just 'one time' when someone tell you, 'you are weak' you just stick your faith on it…. Just go to hell if you believe yourself as 'weak,' I am just sick of such defeating, frustrating expressions. (Stressing again…) You never believe in my words, OK! Fine! Just belief yourself as weak and live like a feeble lady, Such rubbish….If you wish to cry, you can lean on my shoulder…but only when you believe yourself as strong…"

Despite the reality of the weakness, the way how Maam indirectly pulled me up to become stronger, melted and mellowed down to neutrality, rejuvenating the lost zeal of life and start convincing to become 'strong'. I could understand why she reacted sharply. My ups and downs, thick and thins, she knew.

Decades long, I strived to convince positively, people around, through hard work, sincerity and dedication to award me the 'liberty' to learn flapping my wings, start-ups to fly. Succeeding after fair attempts, finally, I colourfully paint my nails as a mark of 'living,' with the crush of colours and start coming out seeking for guidance to my wild curiosity to understand my land the ways of people's lives.

Unfortunately, strangers whom I meet, on my path to find a guide for my yearning aspirations to learn and grow better, seems to misinterpret me. The challenges I have gone through, the struggles, the sacrifices I have made, the constrains I have met and my determination for my set priority, to become a liberated woman, like this today, they can't even imagine in their dreams, I hope so. Painted nails mark the colour of determination, through which I resolved not be a 'weak self' but a 'strong.' being. Maam's finally remarked;

"If you are to survive in this stormy world, sway against the rhythm of strong current, otherwise if you just stand straight and upright, you will be broken, so "Sway" you have to foster alive your passion to learn more and grow better…"

The Teacher's Day, this year I thought of giving a surprise to Maam, so start recollecting some worthwhile moments we share together, woke up at 1a.m, started summarising few unforgettable moments. But the time flies and the clock tickles 4 a.m, pronouncing the arrival of dawn. Today is another new day, we have to make it fruitful, bright day… the hopeful note starts the day, Maam's remark to 'sway' keep ringing Mangka's folk song continues playing;
"Re-Re-Re Ra Re-Hei, Re-Re-Re Ra Re-Hei Re, "

* Mamta Lukram wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at mamtalukram(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on September 05, 2017.

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