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So What if I am a Girl Child?

December 28, 2009

This post was selected by Blogadda as their tangytuesday for the last week of 2009 ๐Ÿ™‚ Click on the icon to read more about it.

While commenting on a post by IHM on whether parents should make adequate investments for their future or be dependent on their off springs, I remembered something, which I had told my mom some time back. My mom was generally remarking about the fact how lonely she would become, if I leave home, either for job or after marriage and I had told her that I want her and dad to come and stay with me. She was perfectly fine with it, as long as it was for a job; but she told me that the same would be difficult in the case of marriage.

After all, you are a girl child! It wonโ€™t look nice if the girlโ€™s parents are staying with her and her in-laws!  

In my usual way, I started โ€œSo what I am a girl child? If my husbandโ€™s family can stay with me, why canโ€™t you two stay with my husband? Why canโ€™t both the sets of parents stay together?โ€ But we did not end up discussing it further and the issue lay buried then.

Its strange how so many stereotypes are imposed by the society on the girl child. And to each and every one of them, I feel like telling

So What if I am a Girl Child?  

1. If I am expected to take care of my in-laws, why am I not permitted to take care of my own parents, whose only child I am?

I do not subscribe to the school of thought of daughters-in-law who prefer privacy with husbands over responsibilities towards in-laws. I will very much like the shelter of elders in the family, unless of course its impossible for them to stay with us for some reason or the other. Similarly, my parents can expect my company and support in later years of their lives, in the same way they would expect from a son. Till date, I have never let them feel anything amiss just because I am a girl child. So, why things should be any different after marriage?

cyrusFATHER_DAUGHTER_by_cyrusmuller

2. Its ok for a guy to be late from work, but why is it difficult for fathers to understand that they are not required to stay up till midnight waiting for their daughters to reach home from work? Why canโ€™t they stop calling or messaging their daughters to find out their whereabouts the moment its past 9 pm?

My father, for instance, refuses to acknowledge my age and my grown-up status ๐Ÿ™‚ My work demands frequent late night conferences, which are a cause of regular strife between my dad and me. He is ok with the whole thing, just that he awaits my return, even if its midnight! I remember once when I had to travel to Delhi all alone for an internship, my dad insisted on accompanying me. I fought with him for two whole days and dissuaded him from coming all the way to and fro Delhi. I hate troubling my parents for such stuff, especially I know that they would not bother with safety issues had I been a son! I eventually managed to travel alone to Delhi, and thereafter to Mumbai. I was glad that my parents had the confidence to let me travel alone.    

father-daughter

3. Why is the Girlโ€™s side inferior to the Guyโ€™s side during a marriage? I understand taking care of the guests and welcoming them properly are a few of the responsibilities of the brideโ€™s family, but why are so many other conditions attached to it?

I know someone who married her long-time boyfriend recently. So it was not even an arranged marriage where traditionally, the brideโ€™s side is inferior in status. There is a ritual in Bengali marriages known as exchange of โ€œtwattoโ€ meaning gifts. The close relatives of the bride and the groom are given gifts by either side of family.

twatto

I overheard a conversation between the mother of the groom and the father of the bride:

M: We had asked for 28 cotton saris and 15 silk saris; you have given us only 14 silk saris.

F: Oh! That was a genuine mistake; we are sorry. We shall carry the one silk sari when we come for the reception. 

M: No, no, thereโ€™s no need for that; we shall buy that silk sari today since we have to give it to the aunt of the grandmother today only; she is not staying back for the reception. Please donโ€™t take any trouble of buying the sari. Its absolutely fine.

I was wondering how the father of the bride was feeling at that point of time. And in every such situation, I shudder to think that

I too, am a girl child.   

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28 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2009 7:18 pm

    quite like the incident of the silk saree. quite. wonder what M’d’ve said if she spied you overhearing it …

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 29, 2009 10:29 am

      Had she spotted me, I just had one question for M – Couldn’t you have spared the embarrassment of the F by not inquiring about the one silk sari? Couldn’t you have done as you said and then keep quiet about the whole issue?

  2. December 28, 2009 8:50 pm

    I have a very close friend who is an only child and a girl. She is 44 today, her mother lives with her. Her husband has two other brothers and his parents live in their ancestral home with their younger son, whose wife’s parents live in the same neighbourhood.
    Another couple had two daughters and they had told the sons in law that their daughters would be taking care of them in their old age, they are all very happy too.
    My brother’s wife is an only child, and again it is understood that she would look after her mother in her old age.
    This is changing and high time it did. If some families don’t accept it then they are only using tradition as an excuse, they are being unreasonable and selfish. I would strongly avoid any long term relationships with such people.
    And boy’s side superior, girl’s side inferior also depends on the families. This is changing and should change.

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 29, 2009 10:37 am

      Going by your examples, the trend sure is changing ๐Ÿ™‚ Looks like the society is finally treating a son and a daughter on equal footing.

    • February 19, 2011 7:58 pm

      these examples are encouraging enough!

  3. December 28, 2009 10:34 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more!! Even I would ideally want a situation where both sets of parents can live with me and my wife (if and when I get married) if they are comfortable with it. In my opinion, its an extremely selfish thing for a couple to do…not taking care of the parents and leaving them alone.

    Also, I would have loved it if you took up the issue of girls having to change their surnames. I personally feel that its a horrible thing….forcing (or requiring) a girl to change a part of her very identity. If a guy can do without it, why can’t a girl?

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 29, 2009 10:50 am

      Did I give the impression of taking up all women’s issues through my blog? If today I speak about changing surnames, then tomorrow you will expect me to write against a girl leaving parental home or why a woman only have to wear sindoor ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am not THAT against tradition and these are just my personal rants about certain stereotypes imposed on a girl child, just for being a girl child, as observed and experienced by me.

      Its all about how two individuals getting married feel about such issues – my only point is how the girl looks at certain changes in her life post-marriage and whether she has an equal right to express her insecurities. And if the girl wants to retain her maiden name and the guy is fine with it, then so be it. No pressure in the name of tradition should be brought into the picture.

  4. December 29, 2009 11:26 am

    I guess women have always been considered to be the weaker sex. Hence fathers, brothers, husbands etc always fret and worry over the women and their well-being. Sometimes this over-protectionism leads to serious issues like honour killings etc.
    As for the conversation you snooped, i can say that lady is a shameless mendicant. No sense of pride and honour. Something i detest very much.
    Still, even though you might rebel and fight against this ‘system’ or ‘school of thought’ but changing a mindset, especially that of aunt brigade and mothers coalition and dads association will be one hell of a up-hill task. combine emotional atyachaar with it. If still think you can fight it, i will definitely cheer for you …..
    from the sidelines munching on pop corn.

  5. debosmita permalink*
    December 29, 2009 11:53 am

    Thanks for your ‘oh so’ supporting words ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have almost changed my mom’s and dad’s way of thinking (as I mentioned they were ok with me travelling alone after initial hiccups) and I am least bothered about anybody else’s mindset ๐Ÿ™‚

    • December 29, 2009 6:38 pm

      Who said i am supporting. I am always the bystander. My principles forbid me to get involved into matters that have no end of debate. Still, i would like to point out that, women have always yearned to be equal. I wonder even after centuries of dominance they are still looking for freedom. I mean when can they say they are equal or have achieved something. ๐Ÿ˜€
      Marriage is always an holy alliance. Yet greed stains such pious arrangement which is supposed to have formed in heavens. The first rule of engagement is to hit opponents weakest point and i have no qualms of saying that women have always being man’s vital weakness. For a father, his daughter is like a princess whom he had shielded from all harms. So applying pressure using her as a possible victim is very tactical move. Get it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Gaurav permalink
    December 29, 2009 2:48 pm

    wow…Your post will give all the male chauvinistic guys something to contemplate on!!! ๐Ÿ˜€
    but ya , i agree some rituals are really loathsome.. and the incident narrated by you during the marriage was really bad…
    but regarding the point 2 ( late from work ), its more related to the safety… coz there are more goons at nite to stalk and misbehave with females than males… hence, its logical for the parents to be concerned…

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 29, 2009 3:21 pm

      Good to see you here again ๐Ÿ™‚

      I agree with your reasoning, hence I also don’t do anything rash when I am late. Of late, I have been petitioning for enrolling myself either for Kav Mraga classes or rifle shooting sessions, both of which are being ignored by my parents! They won’t let me be equipped for emergency situations, but they will still fret over security issues!

  7. Shouvik permalink
    December 29, 2009 3:04 pm

    I would say a girl child who wants to be equal to a boy child lacks ambition ๐Ÿ˜› On a more serious note, frankly, a lot depends on the set of parents one inherits ๐Ÿ˜‰ Being the younger brother to a elder sister very mature for her age has NOT made my childhood easy, I assure you ๐Ÿ˜€

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 29, 2009 3:22 pm

      I don’t want to be equal to a boy child; I want to be better than most other boy children out there!

      Being younger brother to sisters has its disadvantages, like you said. Women are GENERALLY more matured for their ages ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. December 29, 2009 8:33 pm

    I think the Indian society is trapped in it s past.Which is not surprising. The surprising part is even todays generation has an element of conservatism carrying on as a part of their family legacy. We still hear about all those evils which one had heard say 50years ago.

    History repeats itself…..because people don’t learn from it.

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 30, 2009 10:51 am

      I know! I don’t understand how a well-educated guy of present age can allow his mother to humiliate his wife’s father in the name of tradition! Its usually all a facade – of not taking dowry etc. The bride’s father always ends up spending a hell lot of money, even in a so-called love marriage!

  9. Rinchen permalink
    December 30, 2009 9:25 am

    I agree with you. And also with the fact that – times, they’re a-changing. We need more like-minded people but we’ll get there someday, hopefully ๐Ÿ™‚

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 30, 2009 10:48 am

      Hi, welcome to my blog and congrats to you, too – for Tangy Tuesday Pick ๐Ÿ™‚

      Writing this post had one good fallout – loads of people commented to say that times are changing, which sure is encouraging. Next time, during any such discussion, I shall have ammunitions ready with me to fire at my opponents propagating age-old traditions.

  10. December 30, 2009 12:54 pm

    Loved your post. So what if I am a girl child?? Right question!

    Congrats on the Blogadda pick.

    • debosmita permalink*
      December 30, 2009 2:43 pm

      Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. December 30, 2009 4:37 pm

    Marriage is an evil institution designed to maintain the capitalist, patriachal, homophobic society that we live in. But you already know that it seems.

  12. January 8, 2010 6:17 am

    That complexion (wheatish/black) always irritates me. And then the Bengali people will say white people are racist against black people.

    Also, sometimes I feel girls just ‘outsource’ marriage to their parents who fall victim to the culture which has everything one way.

    • debosmita permalink*
      January 8, 2010 1:54 pm

      Not only Bengalis, I guess our country as a whole has a fetish for “fair”! no wonder, skin lightening products flourish here…

      Outsource marriage! nicely put though ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. January 18, 2010 2:56 pm

    Hey! Didn’t know you blogged, found the link while browsing through Sidin’s blog! Should have guessed though, having read some delectable pieces in the Univ Magazine…. agree with a lot of the points you make. As for the point on surname, its one of those Victorian relics.. colonial hangover. Was never required in India, but no one complained as it was one more “point scored” over women.

    Keep writing..cheers!
    J

    • debosmita permalink*
      January 18, 2010 3:28 pm

      Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚ do keep visiting…

      as regards the surname point – You are absolutely right about it being a complete unnecessary thing imposed upon the women by the male dominant society. But now-a-days, the trend is changing ๐Ÿ™‚ The ideal situation is where, if a woman says no to surname change, there will be no societal pressure on her…

  14. May 6, 2012 5:45 pm

    Nice post. I have seen such things happening, even now, at weddings around.

    THEY still expect a car (the latest model that is fully loaded) for the groom in many cases, and they claim to have eradicated “Dowry” system

    We are still in that fake fog of calling ourselves educated et al. When atrocities in the name of community and culture are still around us.

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