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Why do even successful women feel inadequate?

Monday, 16 December 2013 - 2:38pm IST Updated: Monday, 16 December 2013 - 2:51pm IST | Agency: dna

No matter how many roles a woman performs, she is judged and made to feel inadequate. Even someone like Princess Diana...

“I hated myself so much. I knew I wasn’t good enough.”

This isn’t an average woman talking. This is from the secret tapes Princess Diana made, confessing how she felt every moment of her very public life. She says, again and again, “My husband made me feel so inadequate in every possible way.”

Sounds rather implausible, doesn’t it? After all, she had a successful public life. Who would dare humiliate her? And how?

Easy. Her marriage was a ‘bit crowded’ because Prince Charles already had Camilla Parker Bowles. It is humiliation at a very primal level: you’re not even good enough just to sleep with.

And now, after 13 years, Hrithik Roshan announces that it was his wife’s decision to end the marriage. He assures his fans that things will be ‘back to normal’ after these ‘trying times’. So is it her fault this marriage did not work? It almost sounds like a press conference that is held when stars sign up for movies: "this role of an aggrieved husband is so challenging…"

Wouldn’t a better man admit to his various affairs and apologise to his fans for being such a colossal orifice in the intergluteal cleft? But then how many men can?

And will they tell her (like they did to Princess Diana, and many other women in the same boat), “Now, live for your children. They need you.” Live for the arts… Do charity work… And the most ridiculous one? Find solace in spirituality…

Their husbands cheat on them, but it is these women who should find solace in spirituality? She should remain pure, unsullied? And every male friend who chooses to be a friend is ‘offering her comfort?’

God forbid she really finds someone else to love. God forbid she should be seen happy, and seen in the company of friends.

She’s going to have many labels sticking to her, starting with, “Her life hasn’t changed at all. She seems to be doing fine. Maybe she never really loved her husband.” They were not kind even to Diana, remember? They said, “Maybe, she too had someone on the side when she was married to the Prince.”

In case of a lesser mortal, the whole world would be her watchdog. She would need to walk the straight and narrow, be an example of perfect motherhood, dress conservatively, and do everything right. It would be her job to make sure the children love their father. Her job to shield them from news of their father’s various affairs. Otherwise, in an instant, it becomes, ‘You poisoned the kids’ minds about their dad’. 

No matter how many roles she performed, she would feel inadequate. This feeling of inadequacy is insidious. It seeps in slowly, poisoning every ounce of personality, until she breaks down and reacts in a physical way. She will stop eating the foods she loves because she feels ‘not worthy of treats’, or she might over-eat because food does not judge.

Some, like Princess Diana, will seek affirmation of their sexuality and slowly see whatever self-respect they had left squandered away. But these affairs are as sane as putting band aid on a punctured artery.

Parents and ‘well-wishers’ will say, “How long are we going to be around? Why don’t you stick with the respectability of your marriage? He will come around.” But no one is willing to face the question she has already answered, “Why should I be grateful with second-hand goods?”


Manisha Lakhe writes on cinema and poetry. She is a founding editor of Caferati, the writers forum, and blogs at manishalakhe and billiboli. She is slow to burn, but will take a stance on issues. She tweets at @manishalakhe.

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