Our lives and the casual lack of awareness that drag our escapist lifestyle is anything short of a low profile courtroom drama, messy, complicated and not one person cares to examine its details owing to the limited drama that it brings. For most parts we seem to have come far in their ways of life and yet it is not nearly far enough. People race through their pursuits without the luxury of time and check points allowing us to reflect upon things that are missing from our lives. Unfortunately, most times the obvious concerns manage to escape our attention while we run our professional goals and investment plans to the brink of self-certified perfection. The kind of perfection that might seem pretty and pretty alluring on the outside; however, with the little mileage we put on changing the course from 'what is' to 'what ought to be', it leaves us feeling too dead to live and too scared to die.

This article is based on numerous conversations and countless profiling with an attempt to break down the most fundamental and might I say fearful need that drive women to emptiness and men to casual jerk-hood (of course it is based on a standard heterosexual set ups but you would be surprised as to how many non-binary and same sex oriented individuals contributed to this article's directions). I analyze women's priorities, hardships and expectations referencing the Cinderella Story (the movies and the fairytale).


Photo credit: Arzoo Jacob

If you were asked to summarize ‘Cinderella’ or any other estrogen infused fairy tale, what would you say? Assuming that you too have been living under a pile of self-collected rocks, you probably didn't read these stories growing up. Cinderella and other stories of its genre have been used alternatively across movies and write-ups to suggest some versions of unattainable life expectations. Usually, these expectations involve finding the perfect (young, hot, billionaire) partner and living happily ever-after. Loved by doe-eyed romantics and hated by every hard-ass realist, a Cinderella story is deemed to be the height of a girlie girl’s ambition and a slap across a strong independent woman’s face. For most part I was one of those women, hated each one of those stories with a hateful contempt and I hadn’t even read them. All I knew was that a story that sets up women to cry over wedding bells above all else, seek fulfillment in being home bound taking care of an ungrateful family and praying for some miracle man to rescue them out of their mundane problems was nothing short of a relentless evil. To me it seemed even worse than evil because apparently that’s what all women wanted… well not me, no way!

I wanted an enviable career spanning across five industries, I wanted power, I wanted freedom, I wanted to be above the law, I wanted an island mansion with a well-stocked refrigerator and I wanted a highly evolved cyborg to do all of my chores for me. It was admirable when I was younger since I was raised to feel ashamed of admitting the part about wanting to include another person in my life. I was told that including another in one's life plan was merely meant to be a socio-economic advantage, not a partnership between equals. Of course, I didn't buy into their hypocritical need for economic anchorage from another person a worthy alternative either!

A fact I never cared to admit even to myself as my battle for success forged ahead was that I did want a partner, the one I could win wars with. My feminist bravado was at stake and I didn't see it relevant to admit wants beyond animalistic survival needs.

Fearing crippling labels like girlie, weak, soft, typical, impractical, naïve and thriving at the slightest whispers of high praises like strong, powerful, manly, mature, “unlike most girls”, I never really sought the question as to what dictated the way I sought my priorities in life and why my desires beyond ambition and need for power were so darn shameful?

What made an emotion as universal as 'love' an exclusive domain of simpletons (mostly women) and being a vile, ruthless, narcissistic jackass the highest degree of evolution?

What breed of loners decided to provide a marketing bump to these factory made his and hers patterns of behavior and expectations and let the emotional balance of the world spin out of control, with people living a quarter life at best?


I remember a time when after days of chronic depression I was out meeting up a friend of mine and upon being asked about my sordid history I brought up an incident involving sexual violence that changed my life’s trajectory. The incident was brushed off as a norm and my friend told me that there are millions of women, present company included who experienced some sort of sexual violence at some point and that it is a part of being a woman so we needn’t delve into it. I wasn’t shocked at her lack of compassion, after all, empathy for others is a tall order where being self-obsessed is a virtue, but it was the casual attitude of normalcy around the matter. With the deciding factor of whether or not a healthy support system kept someone afloat or if the harsh turmoil of her surroundings broke her into a million pieces, to crawl her way out or perish, this backhanded devaluation of the strength a women needs simply to accomplish survival was quite upsetting. Apparently most women are tested for simply being born and their strengths swept under a rug like a heap of dust the world is only too eager to hide in order to present a shiny glossed over surface. Of course focusing on one form of struggle is almost as rude as the lack of acknowledgement regarding what it really means to ‘act like a woman’ and ‘fight like a girl’.

So, after a lifetime of clawing and sharpening my fighting nails, going over Cinderella story for the first time in the last leg of my twenties provided me with an insight that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. A deeply heroin centric plot, this story follows the life of a young woman from childhood through darkness to light. Born in the arms of love she was undoubtedly happy and she didn’t take that for granted. When darkness descended and she was left with nothing and no one she showed resilience and courage. She stood her ground and remained kind when she could have just as easily chosen to drown in her sorrows. She stayed positive and grateful without knowing if or when her life would get better. She possessed the intelligence to keep her calm when faced with stiff challenges. However, her ever so ‘badass’ talent lay in the fact that she talked to nature and nature actually talked back and in spite of all the limiting shackles her mind remained free. Although she had hoped for better days, she did not do so by gawking after some Prince, instead she relied on her wits, human ability to change and the universe’s knack for finding a balance. Her abilities and strength should have been the source of inspiration but with inadequate glamour surrounding putting in the work, her Prince won the spotlight instead. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging someone who changes one’s life for good but before a celebrity union they became a couple for reasons unique to who they were and what each of them brought to the table. A prisoner of his own mind, the Prince found something liberating in Cinderella, courage and perspective and she found acceptance and hope. A part of universe’s balancing act they each had resources to aid the other in pursuit of a good life. With grace and strength of character she helped foster a popular government while his position as the head of the kingdom relieved her from an ugly situation and put her in a supportive environment where her abilities thrived.

It isn’t unimaginable that a world fixated on poor finances as the only form of adversity that they would draw in a sudden influx of money and fame as a way to weigh happiness, overlooking the crux of the story and the enigma of feminine strength and needs. From where I am standing, if we can reimagine this old Victorian mindset that offered women with exactly one job position as that of a wife, the message of Cinderella is unmistakably contemporary. Not to make it all about women but a story that suggest being grateful for your present and working towards your perfect dream life and maybe find a partner who fights alongside you or meets you at the top to ease your journey’s exhaustion seems like a message no one should miss out on.


Regardless of these vital conclusions, the idea that all women want what all women want certainly needed more than my casual spike of interest in fairy tale dogmas. So I asked around taking stock of people’s lives, future and past. You see, there never seemed like a logical explanation for making generic assumptions. The fact that I always wanted dolls as a kid but it never made much sense what I should with them so I broke their limbs and went out to play (a mixed entourage of males, females and other), seemed like a question I always asked myself. What did I really want? Was it to possess the things others had so I wouldn’t feel left out or was I truly drawn to creating a make belief miniature world with dolls as representatives? Was I any less of a girl for wanting or not wanting certain things?

A thousand casual interviews and a pile of random articles later I was stumped for I kept running into unique individuals. Where were those “most women” I hear so much about? How could I answer what everyone wanted? Was it diamonds, clothes, marriage or was it individuality, career, sex, travel that women want?

Of course I did get the confirmation that feeling safe in their choices echoed through the walls as a necessity. While many had learnt to accept their fate, relinquishing all hopes to be more than what their families and society had inspired them into taking up, I couldn’t quite shake the fact that in doing so they did find their happiness somehow. The operative words being “their happiness”! For this could very well be the majority of women but can we really use regressive, limiting upbringing as the gold standard for defining wants of an entire race of humans?

By all measures there did not seem a universal key to a woman’s happiness. The ones who fought for their choices found happiness in uniquely satisfying lifestyle and those who did not choose their own paths found a fair share of happiness one way or the other.

It seemed rather illogical to make a tawdry list of what women want and a better solution had to be to focus on what we should want - A judgment free space to explore life’s agendas, a supportive assessment of women by other women, the dignity to be considered an individual before a type, recognizing women’s intelligence, strength and the ability to be sound inclusive leaders and respecting the fact that no matter what role they undertake they do not diminish as a person with needs first.