One woman, much pressure, and a choice

by Devina Gunawan

I told my family, “Just because I was born with the biological ability to become a mother, does not mean that I have to be one.”

One can easily tell you to honor your gifts and potentials, but what if there are other things in life you find more worthy of going after?

Being a woman does not necessarily mean being a mother. Being a woman does not automatically mean being a wife. Being a woman can simply just be, being a woman, a human being, an individual with her rights to her own dreams and goals.

I was once outraged when during a family gathering, people were pressing onto my cousin to “Find a partner and get married soon! You’ve come to that age.”

Why can’t people just ask, “So are you considering settling down? Or are you happy with your career path?” or something like that. Ask. Ask us what we want.

My cousin was a law student with bright, bright future ahead. She was ambitious and strong, and a fighter when it came to what would be best for her career. Obviously, career and success were her priorities.

And to see her stare at the floor, lost at words, and saddened by the pressures from right and left was devastating.

Just because women have “biological clock” does not mean they have to sprint. Just because there is a “deadline” does not mean they have to drop everything and submit to it.

Everyone, man and woman, has the right to choose. One has the right to dream and follow her or his dream.

I believe that when things are forced, they will turn sour. There is a time for everything, and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

And I believe pushing women – especially ones who have learned of independence and gotten access to education and career- to submit to the old procedures of marriage and children bearing, is not the best way to go.

We women have our rights too. You can’t tell us to, “Go pursue education. Get in the top university” only to later on tell us to “Don’t focus so much on your career. You need to remember you’re not getting any younger and you need to get married.”

You cannot have both all the time. And I hope someday people will understand that they cannot tell their daughters that they have the rights to be whatever they want, and later on tell them that they have to follow what is usually done.

You give us choices, and you need to deal with the fact that people do take them. Just because there is a glass of water in front of us does not mean we have to drink it. And if we want to get lemonade instead, it is our choice. Our decision.

And most people tell their daughters that they can have both water and lemonade, only to later on tell the girls that they can only have the water.

It isn’t fair. And a lot of women are confused.

I was born, raised, grew into, and will always remain a woman. And I am very much aware of the fact that the most magical thing that could probably happen to my body would be carrying a child for nine months and delivering life. But whether I want it to happen or not, or when – if it is a yes, is my choice. Whether I want to be called someone’s wife or not, is my choice.

And as much as I want to please my parents and make them proud, I do not want to live miserably.

So ask us women what we want. What we prefer. Pressuring us can only lead to two things: us doing what you request out of guilt, or us rebelling against you.

Do not make us choose out of anger or fear. Let us decide what to do with our lives.

It is, after all, our human right.

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