On international women's day, let us acknowledge the roles our mothers, daughters, sisters and wives play. But let us also acknowledge that gendered roles are not objective scientific facts, but cultural impositions. Sex is biological, gender is a social construction. 'Mind your language in the presence of women' is male chivalry. Mind your language 'about' women, is progressive constructionist imperative. Society through language, be it ironically ones 'mother' tongue, or the coloniser's tongue, manufactures gender roles and behavioral conventions. Be an 'obedient' wife, 'gentle' mother and a 'good' cook are patriarchal, and not democratic, standards.
Language is powerful. It obfuscates. Women is not just a celebration category. It's is also a choice and freedom denying category. Let's celebrate the day women are released from the imprisoning noun of 'woman'. Women must have the freedom to grow long hair and wave at pilots. Or be short haired pilots. Be boxers or soldiers. Women need the choice to be single, or in a relationship of any kind. Not to be linguistically and physically disciplined and segregated. Women need the freedom to be traditional or modern. Or define, and participate in, traditionality and modernity as they see fit.
Pictures 1 & 2- At the Adhikarhatti Kariyabetta festival. Picture 3- At the MelKavhatti festival. Nilgiris.