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Who are the good girls? What are the many challenges they face for being considered ‘good’ in this society? This poem says it all.
Be a ‘good girl’ is all she had heard-
It made sense, good is a virtuous word
She did not know that being good came
With strings attached, all the same
The parameters of being good had much to do
With her gender, though she lacked a clue
For in her naive world-view good was defined
By honesty, industry and purity of mind
Regardless of gender, these qualities were universal-
She was not expected merely to be good, but a ‘good girl’
This juxtaposition of words implied so much more
Weighty expectations that she had to endure
Good girls should be seen, but not really heard
No uproarious laughter, no loud word
Should escape their mouths, she was told
They should step daintily, not have a stride bold..
Back off quickly in intellectual discourse
Never state their opinions with much force
(Mind you, these rules were for girls who were given
Similar to male counterparts, a liberal education)
Obeying your elders good upbringing signified
So she suppressed her rebellious streak and complied
Though in front of these rules she could not resign
Herself completely, may be she just was not destined
To be the “good girl” who would in due course transform
Into a well-mannered lady with old-fashioned charm.
Raised in a family with ideas fairly modern
Where education was not a subject of discrimination
She eventually ended up highly qualified
In a male-dominated field, which she entered with pride
Though confident in her abilities, she quickly realized
Behaving in her ‘good girl’ ways would be ill-advised-
She would change her walk to a long, confident stride
Speak clearly and loudly, be assertive; she did decide
It was not easy to break the stereotype in which she
Had been typecast for so long, she thought bitterly
At every step she heard her conditioning chide
Her for not being a good girl, letting her manners slide.
Progress was slow but she managed to
Keep her head high in her workplace too
Stereotyping was dangerous- she had learnt
She resolved never again to get burnt.
Previously published here.
Image source Unsplash
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I am a woman, a physician, a mother and an aspiring writer rolled into one.
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