Introspection Inspired by a Virtual Almighty

24-year-old Swarali Vaidya from Pune shares how reading a sci-fi blog led her to introspect patriarchy.

It is a fact that we live in a patriarchal society. No, I am not an anti-feminist. Yes, things are changing. But they haven’t changed enough just yet to make patriarchy a thing of the past. Turning this patriarchal society (for whatever reasons by whoever wants to change it) into a matriarchal society or an egalitarian one is going to be a long task. And I think that’s because patriarchy is so deep-rooted—at least in our minds.

I was having a well-deserved lazy Sunday scrolling through the 5-inch screen I often hold in my hand when I came across a blog post titled By permission of Almighty by Digant Patil.

My first thought was “okay, something related to Him”. And it was. The blog started by establishing that there was a technical glitch in some heavenly system that controls the universe.

No, it’s not a spiritual blog. I am really not into that kind of stuff. This is more like a sci-fi kind of stuff. So, a part of a blog reads like this:

“The universe had paused for three hours before resuming five minutes ago; maybe some technical glitch; a harmless one nonetheless. No law of physics was broken- even if light rays were stopped midway- as the time itself was paused. 

The entire technical team of God gathered around her desk to resolve this rare glitch.”

Do you notice the pronoun use there? That confused me. Who does ‘her’ refer to here? I thought it might be God’s secretary or whatever. Let’s see. I continued reading and two paragraphs later, here is what it read:

“… ‘No,’ God said with utmost disgrace in her voice…”

Oh! I thought to myself. We are talking about a female God here. That’s weird. It was the thought that followed the realization that was more bothering. Why was I having a hard time dealing with the possibility of a female God calling the shots? How did I not see that coming or even consider it to be a possibility?

I swear, I didn’t even dare tell anyone about this embarrassment until now.

Here I was, thinking of myself as a new-age progressive girl—an open-minded feminist if one may say. And then I found myself assuming—without conscious—that God was a He.

As I kept pondering on this experience, I realized that, for me, this was another reflection on how deep-rooted the patriarchal assumptions were.

Moving on, I finished the blog. It went on to describe how the female God managed the technical glitch and then my picture of God was that of a new-age manager wearing formal trousers and a coat.

Illustration by Rohan Aland

But then came the day of Durga Pooja. And behold! Her idol was not of a trouser-clad God though portraying her doing something equally powerful. No, this was a God who was ornamented with the prettiest of jewels and the heaviest of dresses. And all the time during the Pooja, I kept wondering, “how is she managing to fight off the evil with all that jewelry? And why? wouldn’t it be easier without them?”

So I asked a friend and she was patient enough to tell me that being a warrior was not a primary thing for the majority of female Hindu Gods. They fought with all their might when the time again and the last thing on their mind was changing their clothes.

And that’s when I realized that I was making another assumption—believing that a dolled-up woman can’t fight.

 

About Swarali Vaidya

Born in Mumbai and brought up in Pune, Swarali currently works as a Computational Linguist in Bangalore. She defines herself as a curious soul who spends dedicated time pondering over things that take her fancy. In her spare time, she explores new ways of describing herself.

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