I recently came across an article on a Nepali news daily about the rampant growth of beauty pageants. Since the last few years, beauty shows are growing like wild mushrooms in Nepal, with titles ranging from Miss [insert some cultural group] to Miss [insert some teen princess or angel likes] to Miss [insert some region] to Miss [insert some profession or housewife]. Many of my friends and acquaintances that went to school with me have taken part in one of these vanity contests. What I think is that the pageants are poorly organized, cost a lot of people to take part in, and are just another way of ripping off the Nepalese of their money.
The other day, I was watching a video on Miss Teen contest on internet. I like to be updated on the Nepalese media, films and events just to see where things are going. On the final round, the contestants were asked a question “Why are women considered like burning candles?”. On the basis of the answer to that final big question, the winner would be decided. I had never heard of such metaphor before. My shock didn’t just end there. Much like the burning candle that disperses light to others until its very existence ceases, most contestants said the women are epitomes of sacrifice, love and care. Some of them even mentioned that a woman, whether it be towards her husband or son or her in-laws, dedicates all her life sacrificing all her wishes to make them happy. There was only one contestant who said that this was a narrow-minded thought and women were much more than a burning candle, but obviously she didn’t win. The one who spoke about the sacrifice and dedication saga of women towards her male members, won.
Now, what kind of message does it send to the people watching the show? These are young people, supposed to be progressive and open-minded, but instead, deep social conditioning has led them to believe that a good woman’s utmost priority should always be serving men. I was offended at the question and saddened by the answers. Nepalese patriarchal society cannot imagine the essence of a woman without male relatives. Even young women are very much brainwashed to believe that they deserve less for being born a woman. Nobody questions the reasoning behind what we call culture. What is more scary is that these difficult expectations from a woman and double standards are considered very normal. Never mind that she might have her own interests, her own likes and her own life. Never mind any of that, as long as the males and later her in-laws get to enjoy free service from her. Why is the sacrificing of a woman’s wishes and ambitions for the pleasure and satisfaction of others glorified in Nepali culture?
Nepalese women should really start expecting better lives for themselves and understand that a meaningful existence without any men in life is also very much possible. A woman is first a human being, with the same feelings as a man’s, before she is somebody’s sister, mother or daughter [I detest this “she is somebody’s sister, mother or daughter” so much.]