The sight of an Indian woman embracing rest and leisure is quite rare and remains largely stigmatised. A country that fails to recognise the labour of women also refuses to afford them the ease of being. Due to responsibilities that mark the complete existence of women, as wives, mothers, daughters and caretakers, the very basic right to rest is stripped away.
The feminist discourse around the subject notes that our recognition of a man’s labour in the workforce gifts them the pleasure of unwinding. The very ordinary act has direct impositions on one’s self-identity and well-being whereas women, under constant vigil of policing, are judged for the same; robbing them of self-care and socialisation.
As a result of social, cultural and economic prejudices it is hard for women to even find spaces where they can simply slip away and enjoy carefree moments of leisure. Most public spaces remain hostile and unsafe and are where a woman’s individual presence is treated with apathy; constricting her mobility.
A visual project by Surabhi Yadav documents Indian women embracing the very act of leisure as a form of protest and liberation. Sparking a conversation around our largely oppressive structures and how prejudice seeps into some of the most ordinary acts of life as well, ‘Women at Leisure’ or ‘Auraton Ka Aaram’ presents a photo essay that captures candid moments where seizing a moment for oneself is normalised.
The project also reframes leisure in a manner that is opposed to the definition that exists in a capitalistic society where rest is only viewed as a reward. Disassociating it from the implied perception of productivity which is mostly viewed from a masculine gaze, the argument also stresses the fact that as a society we need to find worth in a housewife’s daily labour instead of disregarding it.
Inspired by her mother’s life, Surabhi started the project after her passing. She was reacquainted with an unseen side of her mother’s personality that was separate from her ‘duties’. As her relatives shared insights into her mothers goofy, untamed side that embraced dancing and singing, she was inspired to create a space where a collective expression of leisure is celebrated without guilt or any social implications, presenting visuals of women in their own spaces who are reclaiming the act of rest.
Explore the project here.
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