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A convent education that rewards girls for being obedient and selfless might be sabotaging the cause of feminism. Here’s how.
Think objectively : Have you seen social workers in the animal kingdom? Have you seen an animal dying itself to save another animal? You seen a starving animal carrying food for another? All this happens with only one species: Homo sapiens.
Wait wait, don’t start the rant of “We are not animals, we are humans“. Of course we are animals, well-bound within the undeniable Laws of Nature. Life wants to survive under all circumstances; and hence, self-sustenance is instinctive and imperative.
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Human society is patriarchal, where the women are not permitted their solitude and freedom. They are chained as slaves to patriarchy. Try to capture an animal and it will fight back and usually escape (strong survival instincts and abilities!). Now, try to capture a woman. A normal strong-willed independent self-respecting woman will be beyond your grasp. While animal matriarchy is natural and laid-back, human patriarchy is artificial and regimented. Women need to be first hypnotized into this slavery. Who does that? One of the systems that do that is the Convent Education.
Being in a girls-only convent education system for 12 years, I can safely say it is against the laws of Nature.
Conformism is put on a lofty pedestal. Women are taught to be tame, by glorifying tamed behavior in school. Convent education prepares females for a hypnotized life under a patriarchal society. Children’s brains are wired into believing that submission to authority is paramount. Rebellion is crushed by value-judging. School-girls are labelled as “good”, “bad”, “obedient”, “wild”, “kind”, etc.
It teaches you not to speak your mind but say what is socially acceptable and politically correct. Naivete is glamorized as being very attractive to the patriarchal male, who wants a controllable wife. Further, marriage is glamorized as the ultimate aim of a woman’s life. Convent education teaches the woman to be the ‘ideal’ wife and the ‘ideal’ mother. She faces stereotypical expectations from one and all, and keeps ‘trying’ her best to win others’ approval.
This is a dehumanizing process for females. It tells you to put your own needs last (OMG)!
This is the most unnatural thing. Your first job is to ensure your survival (physical, financial, emotional). Nature sustains itself by competitively surviving and ensuring its own growth and prosperity. Nature is Capitalistic. Period. You cannot help anyone grow unless you are yourself established and settled. It is a universal truth that you must first look after yourself and take care of your needs (physical, financial, social, emotional, intellectual) before you can of anyone else.
Convent education exhorts selflessness, forgetting that you yourself exist. It teaches you to think of others as a priority, drilling catchwords like ‘love’, ‘service’, ‘kindness’, into the female brain through the incessant moral science classes. It keeps repeating the dictum “Live for others” and tells you to believe that unless you live for others, you cannot wash away yours sins. (Which “sins” BTW?!)
Convent education is a factory-line production. It does not respect individuality. You are always under watch. There is a permanent code-of-conduct. You cannot laugh loudly, cannot jump, cannot run, cannot be rude, cannot answer back, cannot rebel. You have to always be prim-and-proper and oh-so-lady-like. You have to be congenial all the time and put up plastic smiles. This affected behavior (called ‘nyaka‘) is just nauseatingly repulsive for an intelligent person. A prude goody-two-shoes is initially amusing and later, irritating.
Such a pretentious facade comes across as phony and artificial. But convent education continues to consolidate this hypnotized grooming year after year, till a robot-ish woman graduates and faces the big bad world. And she is up for a jolt! She finds the world far more practical (idealism is only a theory), self-serving (what is wrong in that?), advantage-seeking (nature’s rule, accept it), and “cruel” (actually normal).
Convent education teaches you to suffer for others, becoming a victim yourself. This strategy will backfire in an intelligent/practical environment, where normal people easily see through this psychological manipulation of playing the victim card.
Embracing suffering for others sake can be easily perceived as a guilt-invoking tactic to win brownie points. No one likes sob stories. Yup, you actually get taunted for playing a martyr. It irritates normal people simply because it is abnormal and unnatural.
Such women later become suckers for appreciation and validation (personal/social/professional). They feel worthwhile only after someone praises them. They work their asses off to get in others’ good books and win praise. They pretend to be Mother Teresa and demand the Nobel. Arre, teri apni koi life nahin hain kya?
Convent education teaches you to be politically correct. You cannot honestly speak your mind. You cannot show anger. You must always be patient and forgiving. You are hypnotized into praising others even if they don’t deserve it. You start downplaying yourself to make others feel better.
Now it is the basic demand of the patriarchal society that women must step back and put the spotlight on the husband. So convent education hypes ‘virtues’ like humility and down-to-earth behavior. You keep showering praise on others, hoping for some reciprocation. Stretching it too far, you become a doormat. Later in life, such women who have been lying to praise/raise/comfort others may realize this drama and explode and create more enemies unnecessarily.
Girls are made to forget that there is a word called NO in the dictionary. They act as if they are bound to be polite all the time. I mean, who is holding them at gun-point and asking them to forget about themselves? Fear. Fear of being judged and labeled by the society as ‘selfish’. But of course the patriarchal society is going to do that, since they need tame women in order to maintain patriarchal law and order (read values/ culture/tradition). Why do you think convent educated women are in demand in the marriage market?
Convent education is preparing them for this, and then claiming “We cannot change the world, but we can make a difference“. They are making a difference: regression. They are brainwashing impressionable toddlers for 12 years and making them sweet, nice, kind, polite, soft, obedient, etc. before releasing them as nubile products for men to take home as a trophy. Men silently enjoy it, getting a joyride of patriarchy where you end up doing all the heavy-lifting.
Convent-educated women might lack self-esteem. The strictures on them make it difficult to answer back and defend themselves. They buy into guilt very easily, and may also often believe that ‘others are right’ and ‘others know more than me’.
They constantly end up seeking opinions and advice. They look up to others as guardians and superiors, thinking “others know more than me”. They get easily convinced to help/support/go-out-of-way-to-serve others. No wonder they get trampled all their lives. More practical people use them for their own advantage/benefit and then ignore them royally. Taking shit from all and sundry 24/7/365, they begin to question the meaning of their own lives (only if they are intelligent to see the shit). Convent-education trains them to take shit without realizing it as shit! Since they don’t have the courage to assert themselves, they take it as a way of life and re-hypnotize themselves by “learning to count their blessings” as Sister taught them in the moral science class.
Convent education is a brilliant system to train the dumb assistants of patriarchy. Such women will always look up to someone else to salvage them (socially/financially/emotionally). They accept patronizing and condescending behavior like blessings, and obediently fall in line like a school-girl. They are always ready to be ordered by and taken-to-task by anyone. They are oh-so-happy to be under the scanner and be constantly scrutinized. They get a ‘progress report card’ at regular intervals and promise to fare better next time. Any ‘mistake’ of their’s is frowned upon: “how dare she fail to be the model human?” It is very easy to guilt-trip them. They buy into “constructive criticism” and are never truly happy. A constant people-pleaser, they allow anyone to sit on their heads and boss them around.
Since such a woman gladly takes shit, the world gladly cooperates: there are endless people to remind her that her hair is wrong, her skin is wrong, her dress is wrong, her make-up is wrong, her cooking is wrong, her singing is wrong, her mother-skills are wrong, her comment is wrong, her opinion is wrong, her joke is wrong, etc.
She is constantly insecure and trying to prove “I am good enough”. Does she have the self-esteem to say, “Who are you to judge me?” Naah!
Women trapped by its brainwashing want other women also be be the same. I was in Class 6. A nun took the moral science class, teaching us to be lady-like a well-behaved, since “one day you will be the wives of big big doctors engineers“. Even the sari-clad sindoor-smeared teachers spoke similarly. They taught us in class 8 that “Girls have to leave their parents’ home and go away“. What else could they do after themselves surrendering to patriarchy?
They have eagerly taken up their nurturing motherly caretaker roles (nothing else exciting in life for solace), and got typecast in it for life (by themselves only!). It is a vicious cycle of patriarchy creating a market for convent educated women, and convent education allowing the free run of patriarchy: both systems feeding off each other and it is an endless downward spiral.
Any intelligent girl in a convent education system feels stifled. She can see this as an artificial drama. Some girls simply play along, since they know they can be themselves after school hours. Others totally buy into it and take it as an absolute truth.
But these are the few ones. Most people are neither too intelligent (to see through the whole drama) nor too courageous (to openly rebel). A majority of the girls get stifled. Any kind of suppression leads to frustration. It can even lead to perversion. Such women never learn to be fully themselves. After school life, as they interact with more and more of the real world, they try to be as idealistic as possible, upholding their values. But, sooner or later, more and more people seem to be giving them ‘rude shocks’, at increasing frequencies. By the time they realize they have been living a hoax, it is too late to (re-)learn authenticity from scratch and assert themselves. They continue the facade in the hope someone pats their back at regular intervals for being “so sweet”. (People who have taken shit, upon later realization, publicly insist and try to ‘justify’ it to feel better, whereas in reality, they are only lying to themselves).
Regimentation is for cattle, not for intelligent humans with decision-making ability, logic and reason. Rules and regulations can be respected, without sacrificing your own self-esteem.
Published here earlier.
Image source: By Nagarjun [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
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