Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Sexism & Patriarchy Why are Indian women expected to be ‘homely’? Reply To: Why are Indian women expected to be ‘homely’?

Mayuravarshini Mohana
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What do people mean by ‘homely’? A woman who is submissive, docile and balances the entire household on her shoulders. It is, not surprisingly, a gendered term.

Women have been unanimously ordained as the gatekeepers of culture. Ever wondered why a woman wearing western attire to a temple or a wedding comes under heavy censure while a man is free to wear a suit? This is a simple outwardly example. Being the ambassador of culture, it is woman’s onus to carry her tradition. From religious rites to cultural values such as hospitality, fidelity and chastity, her mind and body become the locus of traditional identity. It is often treated as a badge of honour. Unlike wildly portrayed it does not glorify womanhood. They are nothing but methods to keep women in check. A ‘homely’ woman doesn’t speak against elders and embraces subservience. She adjusts and compromises extensively to suit the liking of her family. To put it plainly, she is ideal in the eyes of patriarchy.

The insistence that women ought to be homely is to counter the ‘liberated woman’. A liberated woman is someone who knows her strengths, capabilities and is aware of her rights. She is a threat to patriarchy. Glorifying ‘homeliness’ is a frequently used tactic by society to express collective disapproval of such women. The homely woman is the ‘light of the household’, a goddess who brings wealth and prosperity to the family. Such sentiments make women believe in their supposed ‘divinity’ and willingly comply with the demands of patriarchal institutions. They are convinced that to fail at this is to fail as a woman.