I think it's safe to say that if I lived a couple of hundred years ago, society would absolutely hate me.
I'm louder than I should be, I ask a LOT of questions, and I'm very willing to take people down a notch when they're getting a bit too high and mighty. I like to rant about world problems, and argue about them until the sun goes down (my lovely friends can attest to that); I like to work hard and aim higher, I love how I feel after putting in a solid day of studying and gym; I'm "bossy"- but honestly? I'm just trying to make sure everything is up to the highest standard; but yes, it does hurt when you say it anyways.
Forgive my colloquialism, but it sucks to have every inch of you judged- for being too strong-willed, not strong-willed enough, too outspoken, not outspoken enough, acting too feminist and not feminist enough (and let's be clear here- my definition of feminism is the social, political and economic equity of the sexes); it's like I can't do anything without it being reflected upon my gender and our tropes. Bjork says it all in this interview from 1994.
It's pretty god damn hard to push yourself and take risks when your failures result in you letting down not just yourself (which is bad enough) but a whole group of people. For me, this is women. And specifically, it is women of colour. I don't know if I could have ever made it as a New Zealander who isn't white in the international art field- and I don't know anymore since I've decided to no longer head in that direction. That change was largely responsible for the fact that I don't know of anyone who looks like me and does what I wanted to do- and maybe someone does exist. But hell, I couldn't find her when I needed to. See, being a trailblazer is really cool and awesome and everything when you're not the one having to do it.
It's pretty damn scary when it's you.
If someone tells you representation isn't important- that's straight up wrong. It matters- and it mattered to me.
What I'm trying to say here is that there is such little room for "characters". Despite the amazing social movements to further gender equity, it seems that women and men alike have an image of what an ideal woman should be; for some, it is a loud, proud and outspoken woman. For some, it is a woman who stays home with the kids. For some it as a career-oriented superwoman. What we need to do is let these "ideal" figures go- because it removes individuality and turns us all into bad women. We don't need these standards. What we need is the freedom to just be individuals- all of us.
Maybe one day I won't be a so-called "bad woman"; one day, society will treat me as an individual and not an involuntary symbol for 50% of the population, but that day is not today.
So until that day, I will continue doing my best and being myself while I'm at it. I'll continue being a "bad woman", but you know what? I think I've stopped caring.
The cherry on top: you know what else I don't like? When I see brown male family friends sitting outside having food served to them while all the female family friends come and "help mum in the kitchen".
I'll verbalise my distaste then too and I'll keep doing it- because that's just who I am.
Oh, if it wasn't clear, I'm from NEW ZEALAND.
Don't bother asking "but where are you reeallllyyy from".
That's another story.
- Written by Maitreyi Aria Jain