Jan 03, 2021
3 mins read
When she is called forth, she peeks from behind the pillar. On special occasions she is asked to come out from behind the pillar and reveal herself. The Pillar has been a structure that is constructed in a home to hold up and reinforce the structure of the house but in many homes it has also been the structure that was used to hide women. It helped hide women in such a way that it made her feel she was being 'given' the freedom to be seen or not.
Many of us might be familiar with the saying 'Children/Women should be seen not heard' and though nobody has really said this to me, I think carry the sense of this saying in my body. Cognitively, I understand the saying and I have rebelled against it by constantly speaking up and voicing my opinion. However, as I speak my body notices the reactions of displeasure, censure and disappointment that I see on peoples faces. Recently, though I realized that I have made a grave mistake in my understanding of this phrase. The assumption here is that there is no problem with women being seen, its only the hearing them that is a problem.
The second part of the sentence functions as a way of deflection and let's the person feel that people have a problem with what we say but in actuality it is with our very existence. The phrase 'women should be seen' is heavily laden with terms and conditions. It's only ok to see me if I look like fair, thin, have straight long hair, cover my body with clothes strategically and some such other criteria.
Coming back to the pillar, I feel that one of the reasons that being of a certain weight is ideal in our society is because it's the correct weight that will fit behind the pillar. There is a need to hide the woman so she is not seen, let alone heard. How I carry it in my body is that I constantly try to rally towards the imagined size of the pillar that the system has dictated for me. I go on diets, starve myself, exercise myself to death but also continue to speak my mind and voice my thoughts because in my mind it's the hearing me you have a problem with, not the seeing me.
Have you noticed how you can think of yourself as an independent successful woman with a strong voice but be reduced to nothing by somebody making a comment about your body. That is you being told to return behind the pillar. It's in situations like this that I feel punched in the gut and angry. I feel stripped of who I am.
If you are a woman who is not of an ideal weight, then you wont fit behind a pillar and this is now a problem. The bigger you are, the more you cant be hidden. Your very existence is threatening. It pushes everyone to tell you work out and eat right so you can fit behind this imagined pillar. There are various forms of enticement for this and the pillar is dressed up for the occasion. The imagined pillar sometimes takes the form of this 'ideal partner' that will come to you when you become smaller. The enticement is also in the form of all the encouragement and nice treatment you get when you lose weight. If you are too thin, then the pillar covers all of you and that's no good as well. It is preferable than being bigger but also not exactly what 'they' want. Our bodies need to weigh just enough to not disturb 'them'. The weight at which there will be no discomfort in others and you will be invisible is a better definition of BMI, I think.
I refuse to step behind the pillar. I will stand in front of the pillar arms crossed, legs apart and eyes steady.
There is no question of you not hearing me because now when I look at you, you see me.
And when I speak there will be no pillar for you to hide behind.