The recent articles and blog posts about sexism and frustrations of Indian girls made me write this post.
Couple of months back my Mother asked me whether I had met one of our family friends in Chennai and I replied no. The background story is one of my family friends saw me in the Railway station and the complaint was that I was wearing a loose sleeveless top. The lady got alarmed seeing me in a sleeveless top and complained to Mother saying I should be wearing Salwars as I am Malayali girl.Apparently,the lady is worried that I am spoiling the name of keralites and Kerala’s highly boasted culture(?).Now, this not new to me. Forget about sleeveless tops and party wears, wearing jeans can earn you the name slut.I find it very difficult to understand this concept. If a girl wears a salwar/saree, then she has a good character. From when on wards did we start making analysis of a person’s character according to the clothes they wear.Now,do men have such an issue? Imagine we girls making such an analysis about men — men wearing formal shirts and pants want to sleep around, men wearing veshti don’t think about /look at girls, men wearing lungi want to eve tease or rape and so on. When women don’t judge men according to the clothes, why does vice versa exist? Do not generalize because we don’t think that a guy is bad if he is wearing clothes which he likes.
I remember getting a message in my blog page after writing the post Shadows of a Girl. The message was from an old classmate who was a constant faultfinder of my posts. The message was an apology for the rubbish comments he had posted on some of my posts. The change in attitude happened after he took his newlywed wife to Delhi for honeymoon. The message said that he fumed in anger and helplessness when his wife got lost in a crowded street and she was groped badly. He wrote that his wife cried in shock that strange men squeezed her breasts and waist in those ten minutes she got lost in the crowd. And what was her dress?A pardah!! He apologized for his earlier views on women.But,what I want to tell the world is why should you wait for something to happen to your dear ones to change your attitude? What is so difficult to think that women are human beings too? And I know, in India, men get groped too.
“Don’t do such things because a girl should not do such things”. I grew up hearing this dialog round the clock from my Grand Mother.But, thanks to my parents for letting me grow up doing things from playing cricket with neighborhood boys to rolling in mud. I thought such mentality was only in Kerala but as I moved out of home and started meeting people from other parts of the country, I understood that it is a national problem. Here are ten rules which I have heard often.
1)Girls should not talk loud
2) Girls should not play with boys after 10 years old or getting her period, whichever is earlier.
3) Girls should not go out alone
4) Girls should not stay outside the home after 6 PM (This still exists in Kerala. Thanks to the men in Kerala)
5) Girls should sacrifice
6) Girls should obey their parents, elders and whomsoever who has the right to rule/shout at her
7) Girls should give more importance to her wedding than her education.
8) Girls are the honor of a family and should save it at any cost
9) Girls should not tell their opinions because they don’t know what life is
10) Girls should give more importance to her husband and his family than to herself and her family
Most of these dialogues are followed by a story from the religious books praising women in those books who made sacrifices, who were epitome of patience, who obeyed her husband without any objections, who grew up according to her parents’ wishes, who saved the honor of the family and so on. Now stop right there. First of all, it is dumb to force girls to grow up under such rules and force them to be examples of the so-called “the good girl”. Women are humans too — what’s wrong in getting angry and shouting? Why should we sacrifice things which we like just because we are women? Why should we suppress anger and be patient just because we are women? Above all, why should we be good girls, why can’t we be just girls? Imagine a society telling the Indian men to be like the ones in the religious books?
One of my friends was narrating the story of a movie. Then she said, “after that they will have this” and giggled.”They will have what?“. We asked.”You know, that“, she again giggled.”You mean they had sex?”, somebody in the gang asked. And she said, “Don’t tell it openly. It is a bad thing”. Yes, I heard this from a married woman who has a kid.Sex is one of the words which will spoil a girl’s name. People often forget that sex is a simple thing. Even when they celebrate a girl becoming pregnant, they conveniently forget that she became pregnant after having sex with her husband. It is a ubiquitous fact. The mankind still exists because people are having sex; let’s tell it that way than the rosy way of telling that babies are born. So why should a girl be bad if she talks about sex?If you want a baby then a woman should have sex with a man. This has been happening since Adam and Eve and how is a woman talking about sex a sin? (That too in this century!!)
“I am in love”. How often have you heard an Indian girl telling such a thing openly?90 % of the Indian women don’t let this out because having a past relationship will spoil her chances of getting married(even if the guy who rejects this girl would have had many relationships and is not a virgin).Yes, pure-girl concept is prevalent in Asian and Eastern countries. The usual dialog from the family, “Guys can do anything. Even if he rapes girl, he will get a girl to marry” discourages women even more from telling out their feelings.Recently, one of my friends informed me that she rejected a proposal. The reason which she gave me was that the guy’s parents are dumber and my jaw dropped. Looks like the guy wanted somebody who hasn’t been in a relationship, so she politely withdrew from the proposal but his parents wanted somebody who hasn’t had any crush or infatuation so far. She asked me how they can even think of such a thing when she is already 26 years old. How does it matter whether she or he has a past? Infatuations are mementos of our teenage life. Having a relationship will only help a person grow better. I read this somewhere “Relationships are never a waste of time. If it didn’t give you what you want in life, at least you know what you don’t want in life”.
I saw a comment in a forum which discussed about the above problems,”Twenty years ago, I was reading articles on the same lines. Twenty years from now, we will continue to do so. Some themes never grow up!”
Related Read : http://tamilculture.ca/an-open-letter-to-young-tamil-men/