Hobson’s Choice

Guest Post by: Jenny (https://jennysreflections.wordpress.com/)

Hi All,

Please meet Jenny, fellow blogger and friend.  I find her writing refreshingly honest and straightforward.  This guest post of hers made me reflect on the choices I’ve been offered, the ones I eventually made and the process it took to go from the “destiny” handed to me to making conscious choices to finding freedom.  It is never simple and clear cut and I continue to learn.

– Priya
Hello,
Jenny here. I am so excited to write a guest post for IHM. I am an ordinary Indian woman who one day took a look around the world I was living in and began questioning questionable things. I am an avid reader and started to write mostly out of frustration with this thing called life. I try to write often at my original blog https://jennysreflections.wordpress.com/.
Thanks to Priya for encouraging me to write this guest post.
Hobson’s choice is almost an illusion as it is choosing between something and nothing.

When I first stumbled upon this term on Wikipedia, I hardly could wrap my head around it. Choice between something and nothing huh… how can that happen I wondered? Yet, on further contemplation I realized that my whole life has been a series of Hobson’s choice.

At the age of 15 choosing a group void of math and science was never an option. I was told either choose one without biology or computer science. Leaving out Math, which I hate was definitely not in the cards. Deep down, I knew that I would end up studying math, physics chemistry, and computer science, when all I wanted to be was a writer. So you see I never did really have an option. That very choice pretty much sealed my life as a don’t-wanna-be engineer.

At the age of 21, when I didn’t even know what life was all about, I was married. They said you don’t know how the world works, so listen to us and get married. I had rejected the first guy I saw, using the silly reason that he didn’t look good (Secretly hoping they won’t pressure me to get married). Ironically, using that same reason against me, I was told I couldn’t say no to the next guy, who did look handsome and met all the standards set by my family.  I had to marry a guy when there was only one option and at a point where I had no clue what marriage was all about.

Hobson’s choice is my case was the absence of a meaningful choice.

When I, who grew up well educated in an upper middle class family, can come up with 2 major illusions of choice, I shudder to think of all the women in various strata of the society who completely have no choices in front of them.

It has taken me years to undo this – to understand what it means to be an adult, to reject other people’s warnings and protection, to have the confidence to make my own choices.

Every time someone says with a sneer – so you are a feminist, I have the immense urge to sit them down and tell them: FEMINISM GIVES WOMEN CHOICES.  DO YOU WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE WITHOUT CHOICES?

As women in today’s world, we have the choice to live where we want, marry or not, work in any field, wear what we find comfortable.  We have the choice to make decisions that affect us.  Those decisions may not make sense to others.  They don’t have to.  As adults, we get to choose.

So dear reader – think about your life and those around you.  Choice is the most precious thing you have.  It will often be denied to you.  Know that you are born with the right to it.  Ask for it.  Exercise it.
➢ What choices do you have now that you didn’t have a few years ago?

➢ How have YOU changed on a personal level?  What choices do you make despite criticism, condescension, or emotional rejection?

➢ What kind of changes do you wish for, in terms of the specific choices that YOU should have?

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3 thoughts on “Hobson’s Choice

  1. ➢ What choices do you have now that you didn’t have a few years ago?

    I think I had the choice to learn to think for myself and not get carried away by what ‘others think’, something that was kind of ingrained in me during childhood, but thankfully faded now, because I went and have lived on my own during college and after and realize that pleasing people only goes so far…

    ➢ How have YOU changed on a personal level? What choices do you make despite criticism, condescension, or emotional rejection?

    I feel like I have been able to mature and be open to being exposed to different cultures/people (I sort of was within that “Indian bubble” a little bit where it was so closed off). Most of all, I was able to self discover myself, explore several things that sparks an interest, construct an identity that I kind of envision, and learn to embrace who I am as a person. I am not perfect and I realized that it’s ok to not be perfect because I am of equal value to everyone else, despite my success/failures. Just because I have achieved more/less than others doesn’t mean I am more/less of a person than they are, if you get what I mean. Most importantly, because I have exposed myself to different people from all different cultures and from all paths of life, I am big on humility and have learned to respect people for who they are (as long as they are good people), and not to judge/criticize them for irrelevant things like not fitting the “traditional mold”, having high status, and most of all, just being ‘different’ from the norm. It broadened my horizons and help me see things in various perspectives. Therefore, we are all equal in the end. In addition, the mistakes, and rough patches I have experienced allowed me to build character and have opened me to see things differently. I realized that failing is ok and is part of one’s personal journey, compared to when younger, I only thought that brings shame, dishonor..etc.

    ➢ What kind of changes do you wish for, in terms of the specific choices that YOU should have?

    I just wish Indian society would respect and accept me for me, and not try to pressure me to fit a certain standard. I think giving individual respect helps create strong relationships and to accept and love the person unconditionally, regardless of differences. However, even though it’s slowly changing in India, it’s still in that conservative stage where “culture and tradition”, and the idea of saving face still overrides the concept of allowing people to make certain choices (excludes choices that are harmful/dangerous and affect other ppl). No one should be scrutinized for their choices as long as it’s not a very evil act and not wrongful (choosing to get married, kids, being lesbian..etc). Respecting them for who they are will make things much more peace in this world.

    Great writeup! 🙂

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  2. What choices do you have now that you didn’t have a few years ago? Not s few yrs but a few decades ago 🙂 ever since i started earning, i did what i wanted.but before that there was subtle pressure to do what society wanted. or what they claimed to be idle things a girl child does.

    How have YOU changed on a personal level? What choices do you make despite criticism, condescension, or emotional rejection? No. and thats the problem others have with me, i havent changed my outlook as i have grown, or as i married or had a kid or heaven forbid a daughter. i have never seen any reason to support patriarchy even though well meaning relatives said i would.

    What kind of changes do you wish for, in terms of the specific choices that YOU should have?
    Nothing in particular for me, but i think basically i want all rights for women that men have. opportunities, choices , the same love and approval. and maybe a bit of adoration 🙂

    I have never followed societies, relatives, even parental dictates. but it has not been easy. and i really wish it were not so,. my choices never harmed anyone or even myself, just because they were outside the border of what we as a society expect from women, it was criticized. that meaningless criticism was hard to take when i was young. fighting against the tide made it that much harder. for no reason, it shouldn’t have been.and thats what i hope changes.

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  3. I have always been a “questioner” and a rebel, from my teen years, when I lived in India in an atmosphere that disapproved of girls who had a mind of their own, who did not follow blind instructions laid down by so-called “elders”, who defied so called “traditions”. I would often wonder why other girls of my youth – most of them “highly educated” – were not the same. I would think “What’s the point of being “highly educated” if you cannot take charge of your own life, be able to decide what’s right or wrong for your own life?”. I look back at the younger me with admiration – I had only my instincts and strong sense of fairness to guide me.
    I am still the same – even though I now live in a different country, am much older and I hope my child imbibes some of these qualities from me.
    I wish our education system encouraged introspection, objective thinking, thinking beyond just academics. It’s an essential life skill.

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