I always thought that I was born in a liberated generation. The generation where it didn’t matter that I was a girl. I could study what I could, be what I wanted to be and do as I wish. It seems to be working well for a pretty long time, till I started working. That is when I first felt the real bias kick in. Not at my work place though. I worked at Times Now for over a year, where you did all sorts of shifts irrespective of your gender. Whether you were a girl or a boy, you still worked for a minimum of 12 hours every day. To be fair- when I did my first night shift I felt extremely liberated. I was in a very weird way proud of myself and of how hard I was working.

Then came the looks, followed by the questions.

Random person 1: Do you work at a call centre?

Me: No, I am a journalist.

Random person 2: So late? Why?

Me: (In my head I am abusing you) Yes. Long work hours

Random person 3: You don’t get weekends off? You have night shifts? I wouldn’t let my daughter do such a job.

Me: (In my head I’m thinking that if your daughter thinks getting my job is so easy, well then it is great that you won’t let her do it because reality would be too brutal for her) Well, this is what I want to do. I studied for this.

Random people continued saying random things honestly. But, what agitated me were questions like, ‘What would you do in future if you continue to have such timings?’. Well random person, it is fine you are asking me this question. Honestly, I too was struggling with establishing a work-life balance. What I had a problem with was that the same questions were not directed at men my age with similar timings. They could work long hours, but my timings were clearly giving you headaches?

Now my news feed seems to be full of wedding pictures. Some love marriages, some are arranged ones. I have nothing against either. Recently I attended the wedding reception of a school classmate, only to be told later that he had taken dowry. The question that reverberated in my head was, ‘What was the whole point of all our education anyway then?’ Male bashing would be easy to do, but more than that I am stunned at the girls. Remember, I believed we were of the liberated generation.

Most of the girls around my age, who I know, are very well educated. Then why are you Miss B Tech/M Tech/MBA/BDS agreeing to this arrangement? If not the dowry, then the common trend in many South Indian families is that the girl’s family will load her with jewelry and bear all the wedding expenses and some more. To my utter surprise, I don’t see anyone putting their foot down and willing to go against it. Women, what part of our free liberal education every taught us that we are liabilities? Why should your family bear all the expenses? Do you think despite being educated, despite holding down a successful job, despite your all achievements and despite the wonderful woman you have grown up to be, you really bring nothing to the table?

I always saw weddings as a direct indicator of where the girl stands in the community. I come from a community where dowry is very common, so is my disgust with every man who takes dowry. I find it very difficult not to snigger at a well educated man who has stooped so low as to put a price tag on himself. However, woman, you out there, I did not think despite all that you claimed to stand for, you would give in without a fight.