Girls in our family/society have always been expected to live by an invisible social rulebook. If you are a brother who has a sister or vice-versa, there is no denying the fact that you both grew up in two parallel worlds that co-exist in the same physical location. Even if you do not have a sister, you have a mother and she is a breathing reflection of the societal influences women have to live under.
This is not a rant about how boys are given more freedom and have had the opportunity to pursue what they wanted to while having less expectational burdens when compared to a girl in the same boat. While there is no complete masking of this fact, this time we choose to talk about change. What is that we would like to change about the way we bring up our girls? The next generation of women.
The Kitchen is NOT Going to be Anybody’s World
Yes, rice and sambar are a necessity. Cooking is a tool for sustenance and living. Doesn’t it imply that all humans, in general, come under the same umbrella? In today’s scenario, if you know how to cook up to four different Kerala dishes perfectly you are already marriage-material. All girls who have crossed 20 or let’s say 22 have heard “Korch cooking okke padikknne nalle alle mole?” or “Vere oru veetilekk keri chellumbo ithonnmm ariyillenkil avar ammene alle paraya?”
But do they think boys learning cooking is a necessity? You may have your reasons to support why boys don’t have to learn how to cook but they are all going to be like a shallow cry in a drowning well.
So what do we change here? We don’t allow women to learn cooking? That’s stupid. Instead, we let them cook the recipe that is their lives first. Let them add the spices of their choice. Let the salt be found wanting or the pan burnt at times. We won’t let another generation struggle, scream and create havoc at home just because they want to do what they love to do. We’ll watch them grow and be their cheerleaders. Not just for their kindergarten annual day dance, but every day.
Not Stop at Dreaming Big
We have always been taught to dream big. We have come a long way from a time when girls were considered a liability, a time when girls weren’t allowed to study beyond the 8th standard (not just because parents didn’t see any point in educating girls but also because they couldn’t afford it). Things have changed. Situations have revamped. Women have conquered the seas, skies, and lands. But are we in a position to safely claim that our women, our girls are all in a place where they can achieve their dreams? Sadly not.
Coming back to where we started – dreaming big. Now a vast majority of us have access to good education and are motivated and inspired to dream big. But what is lacking here? The spirit of being a ‘go-getter’. This is also primarily the reason why girls are pushed into ‘prospective’ marriages before they have settled. “Avanu onninum oru koravum illa-carinu car, veedinu veedu, jolikku joli! Aval avdthe rani aakum!” But why do we have to be a rani only if there is a rajaav? If you say you want to get married after you settle down you are mostly slammed with “Athippo kalyanam kazhinjum aakaamallo mole?” Why can’t it be before kalyanam?
This is probably where Nirupama’s question in How Old Are You? gains prominence. “Who decides the expiry date to a woman’s dreams?” Nobody. This is what we will bring up the future generation with. We will not only inspire them to dream big but will also empower them to go get them, without a clock counting down in the backdrop.
No more of ‘Behind Every Successful Man..’
The theme for IWD 2021 happens to be ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in the Covid-19 World’. How do we put this framed statement into our lives and what is the need for such an emphasis?
For those of us working in corporates, have we not sensed the reek of casual sexism at workplaces? When it comes to official after-office parties or promotions, women have to fight for what they deserve. Many corporate giants see women as an emotional pair of working hands and hence, believe that they can be coaxed into lesser pay and stagnated positions. The statistics in private organizations speak this truth.
The percentage of women who get promoted to managerial roles is a sorry figure when compared to their counterparts. When a woman is a leader, they are bound to be taken less seriously and are often underrepresented in their own companies. This change can only be brought about at home. At how many of our homes do female members take a stand? Even when we were kids our mother told us, “Achanod chodikku, enikk areela”. This is the point where we have to steer away. We need to let women speak up in a voice that belongs to them. To give them strength and instil in them lost faith – that they are capable of leading.
No Filters in the Real World
We can proudly flaunt the fact that we have turned ‘modern’ when it comes to the choices we make in terms of entertainment. Movies and series have steered into a progressive track and we, as a family, flock together to watch these and enjoy them and also take a minute or two to discuss them. This is also the same house where the daughter has to hide her sanitary napkin under the towel when she makes her way to the washroom and the same place where the idea of our body and sex are explored through porn and other parallel sources because we as a family were never trained for this.
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The generation before us thinks that these subjects are taboo and do not require discussion. And, we as a generation, are more comfortable talking about the same with our friends and not with our parents. Imagine a day when your father suddenly decides to talk to you about the process behind continuing the family lineage, hell, wouldn’t we just panic and run away? Well, this is what needs to change.
Girls should be talked to about their bodies and related subjects from their home at an age where they can grasp these concepts. This does not imply that only girls require talking to. Boys also should be taught about how a girl’s body works along with their own so that in future they come to us in need of help and not run into sly sources of shelter when teenage runs wild.
Let Women’s Day not be the only day women’s stories are shared and celebrated. Let this not be the only day women are acknowledged and made to feel special. Instead, let us appreciate and stand up for all the women in our lives every day. Let us teach our children to stand up for each other because there is nothing fairer than a world of equality and zero stereotypes. Let them grow up with the audacity to ask “What if thankakudam wanted a pottu?” when someone says “Thankakudathin enthina pottu!”
On that note, here’s the entire team of PinkLungi wishing you a Happy Women’s Day and happier life ahead!