DISCLAIMER: This article is NOT a pro-smoking suggestion for women (or men).
“Bigdi hui ladki!” “Characterless hai!” “Pat jaegi aasaani se!”
Smoking is injurious to health. But when it comes to women smokers, it’s injurious to their character too. Before you label me with “oh, another feminazi trying to make a point”, let me explain how and why you’re completely off the point if you feel so. Because honestly, it is downright ridiculous!
For starters, why am I tagged a ‘bad girl’?
Yes, I smoke. I may have multiple reasons to do so. I may not have a reason at all. But how does it define my morals, my character or my so called ‘evil’ side? Why does that question who I am as an individual?
The media plays a huge role in procreating this ‘vamp-like’ image.
Every woman smoker is portrayed as low on character compared to the ones who don’t. For instance, in Fashion, Priyanka Chopra lights a cigarette to mark her illicit dark side, after which everything goes downhill for her. In Cocktail, Deepika Padukone is the ‘free-spirited, bad girl’ who is rejected by the guy she loves for someone who’s ‘good’, who doesn’t drink or smoke. Questionable, don’t you think?
Also, let’s understand how patriarchy works here. It puts forth a symbol of gender equation with cigarettes! Independent, successful men smoke; But women who smoke are considered spoilt and – dare I say – ‘slutty’.
I have to say that a lot of women smoke out of social pressure, just to live up to a certain image of an Independent ‘cool’ woman, making a career against all odds, and probably smoking for reasons the rest of us ‘less-progressive ones’ cannot comprehend. And because she defies her usual back-seating role of a ‘nice sudhari hui girl’, we cannot appreciate her. My mother (and most women/men of her age) is an excellent example of this ideology!
Because non-smokers think it’s ‘unladylike’, and smokers think it’s a ‘symbol of social change’, we’re stuck in the centre with two problematic notions.
Let’s come to the part where most men (and women) assume that women who smoke are “easy” and “spoilt”.
I remember my school/college days, when a lot of guys would assume I’m ‘bindaas (casual)’ just because I was holding a light in my hand. A lot of girls too wouldn’t speak to me for the same reason. I could be very similar to them or reserved or an outright crazy person, but nobody would bother finding out.
What sucks even more is the real reason behind all this. The fact that some women chose to be the ‘Marlboro Man’ to make a point.
History is witness to the same. If you google women and cigarette propaganda, you’ll understand how initially women who started smoking were actually lighting ‘ torches of freedom ‘ as a sign of rebellion. Now, if you put A and B together, you’ll realize how ignorant and influenced all of us really are. And how we love to criticize people instead of hitting the roots.
I honestly wouldn’t have to write this article had we been a little more considerate towards women and their individuality.
And I’m speaking from personal experience. Smoking is not pleasant, and it scientifically harms women more than men. But at any cost, it isn’t a parameter of my ‘good and socially acceptable’ character/image. Neither should it be perceived as a symbol of liberation or confidence.
The fact remains. It’s our health at stake. Whether I’m a man or a woman, it doesn’t matter!
Smoking isn’t right for anyone and I’m well aware of it. And the only person wholly responsible for the consequences is me. I reluctantly have to say this, but it is “my choice”at the end of the day. Regardless of my gender or the fact that I’m gradually harming myself. You, on the other hand, can be a well-wisher instead of judging my character.