‘Congratulations!! It’s a perfectly normal and healthy baby girl!!’
Most people would be thrilled to hear that. But then again many would consider that to be a disappointment, a burden, a result of bad karma, a tragedy or a reason to get pregnant again, hoping this time the Gods’ won’t curse you with another girl child.
I’m not here to judge, I’m just thinking out loud and trying to understand – why for generations, a girl, a woman has been seen as an inconvenience, not just by men but by women too. So this time, I’m going to place the ball in your court and ask you 6 questions. Take your time and think about it. I would love to hear what all of you – male, female, young, old etc have to say. And of course I know I am generalizing here – there are exceptions, but we’re looking at the larger picture.
*Please don’t reply with it’s our culture/tradition/religion; unless you have actually read up on your culture and can send me facts to back up your statement. Facts don’t include what your parents, teachers, guru babas said.
1. Why is it expected that a good wife will cook, clean, look after the house, bear children, attend to them, to her husband, his family and tend to every need each of them may have and go to work whilst a good husband will go to work – all else is beneath him?
2. Why is this ‘good’ wife an even better one if she quietly bears the brunt of his stress – be it emotionally, sexually, physically or mentally?
3. Why is a single woman frowned upon and called a slut if she enjoys sex, but a single man is patted on his back and called a stud if he does the same?
4. Why is it so hard for single, independent women to find apartments to rent whilst if there are men, it’s no problem at all?
5. Why is she a bad influence, not a fit candidate to take home to ‘mother’, if she wears clothes that show skin, lives her life her way, has lots of male friends, tattoos, parties, smokes and drinks?
6. Why is she too much to handle if she isn’t afraid to stand up for and be herself? Why is her opinion not worthy of being voiced?
I know most urban women will relate to at least one of these questions. We have all experienced these situations directly, seen it second hand within families, amongst friends and with house-help too. I know a lot of men who seem very liberal and open minded but when it comes to their own wives, sisters or daughters, something kicks in and everything that was acceptable suddenly isn’t.
If you could help me understand why we as a society (again not just men) discriminate against our own, I would be able to find peace and make some sense out of what we are doing to ourselves. It’s easy to point fingers, bash, blame everyone and the government!
But before I choose sides in a seemingly never ending blame game, I just want to ask –
How many of you mothers have knowingly defended the wrongs of your sons, husbands and fathers; how many of you have oppressed your daughters; secretly favored your son over your daughter – yet she is the one you expect to look after you in your old age; taken abuse silently – verbal or physical; judged other women based on their appearances?
How many of you women have thought it was okay for your mothers to behave this way? And let it continue?
How many of you men have treated women badly even in the smallest way? Accepted parents/ in laws hitting their grown daughters? Thought certain women need to be taught lessons? Told a woman how to behave/dress? Asked for dowry? Expect her to do all the housework? Watched women get teased, tormented, harassed in public and just walked away minding your own business?
I state again, I am not judging or condemning anyone here. But if there is an inner voice that (despite the obvious external discomfort) identifies with an ‘I have’ to even one of these questions, I think it’s time that we remember to look deep within each of ourselves, before pointing fingers outwardly.
There is no denying – A change must begin. But it only begins within – regardless of religion, education, social standing, wealth and gender.