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When ‘women like us’ still feel ashamed if we have only sisters and no brothers, change for women in India is going to take time!
I still remember that day from my childhood when my mother introduced my elder sister and me to one of her new friends, holding our hands on either side, “My daughters – Divya-elder, Somya – the younger one.” Her friend quipped back, “Oh two daughters?” My mother with her reassuring smile came back proudly, “Yes. Two daughters.”
Years have flown by since those childhood days at Kanpur. We have gone from being at one of the reputed private schools to attending one of the most cosmopolitan universities, and today, my mother is often requested by her friends to guide their young ones with career advice.
Confident and determined to achieve higher, I recently shifted from Mumbai to the city beautiful, Chandigarh. The city, I must admit seems even more refined than Mumbai in terms of planning and architecture, for you don’t find slums beneath high rises nor small shops rights at the convenience of your doorstep. Coming from a city where families brag proudly about even owning a 750 sq. ft. in Dadar, I had landed in a city where the designing and size of the courtyard of bungalows could put even owners of a 2 BHK at Worli to shame.
But before I could bring the Worli flat owners to Chandigarh, what swept me off my feet was meeting counterparts in the city beautiful from my very own gender, with sympathy in eyes and sorrow in heart, stressing on one of the ‘misfortunes’ of my life putting forward the same very pertinent question of mankind every time, “Don’t you have a brother?”
Before I could ask them how it really mattered, or tell them that such a thing has really never cropped in my life in recent years and that I never actually missed fights over Pokémon and didn’t mind not owning a WWE card collection, that I have felt so grateful to have a sister with whom I have cherished some of the fondest memories right from walking hand in hand from the bus stop to fighting over the colour of hair bands, they further probe upon how I spent my Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj holidays and I was pushed to feel sorry and ashamed about my brotherless world.
But why should I feel sorry for not having a brother when neither my sister nor I have ever felt that we need a brother to complete our family? Do my parents need to start worrying about their old age since they have “only two daughters?” Will they ever sympathise with a boy child without a sister in the same way for not having a sister? Does winning four sons as trophies for their husband makes them a luckier mother than being gifted four daughters? Doesn’t another woman still complete a family for a woman herself?
Feminists have been fighting for women’s rights but what if certain sections of women don’t respect their own identity as women? What about those women who still feel it is their ‘privilege’ to wake up earliest in the morning to do house chores and join last at the table to cold leftover food after everyone is served each and every portion of their heart out?
Gender issues still exist; this is not a new fact. But what is the point of education when educated women from well to do families and college going girls think in the same fashion? Are such women not supposed to be the ambassadors of change?
I recall one of my male colleagues’ WhatsApp status, “Women are god, women need this. Dear feminists – God didn’t create the earth for single gender.” Infuriated as I was that day, today perhaps I feel a little more hopeless.
Image of two little girls via Shutterstock
Writer,Quiller,Empath ,Researcher who loves reading classics with instrumental in the background. When not
Something similar happened to me as well. I must have been about 21 years old when my mom introduced my sister and I to a distant relative. The man took one look at us and turned to my mother. He said with a pitying look on his face, “What? No sons?” I was flabbergasted! Dammit my sister and I were standing right there! Apparently many Indians – men and women included – don’t consider women to be people with feelings that can be hurt. It didn’t matter to this man that the girls he was insulting were standing right next to him in the same room. I’m just thankful that my parents are sane people and never allowed my sister or I to ever think that we were inadequate or that they wished for sons.It is taken for granted that my sister and I would take care of our parents because that is what children do, it’s not just restricted to sons!
Yes Shilpa , I can truly feel what you are saying..further on what was more disheartening to me was “well educated” women putting up the same pity & regret before me….If women themselves don’t trust their own gender & respect their feelings as you rightly pointed out..expecting women parity from men would be a far fetched dream…!
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