Gender Stereotyping – “Arre Yeh Ladkiyon Ka Kaam Hai”

We don't have to be a feminist to reverse the stereotypical gender roles. Let's be humanist and take things rationally and logically.

Now, I am of the firm conviction that small talks are to be taken seriously for the mentality change begins from there. For example, recently I went to a function and happened to witness the conversation between the female host and a male family friend.

Female Host: How is everyone? Your son, what is he doing?! Your daughter, what is she doing?

Family Friend: Well, son is pursuing his professional course and daughter is doing her post graduation.

Female Host: Oh nice. Daughter means ‘responsibility’, no? Just get her married at the earliest. Studies will go on. Daughters are ‘responsibilities’. Your son, you can marry him later.

Family Friend: Yes, she is still studying. We shall see.

I wonder when will it be the time when we will get out of this sick mentality that ‘daughter’ is a ‘responsibility’ or a ‘burden’ and having a ‘son’ is like the one who ‘takes up responsibilities’ or ‘reduces the burden’. If you are bringing up your own children in such a stereotypical setup, no wonder there is a skewed sex ratio, female foeticide, dowry deaths, deaths as a result of domestic violence, rape culture and of course, the increasing population. Because we think, a girl over 23 to 25 years of age should not be kept at home. She is ‘your’ daughter, by the way.

I am not generalising here. My point is that a child should be brought up in the same way by the parents or guardians irrespective of their gender. If you are telling your daughter to put away her brother’s glass in the kitchen while he sits there watching TV, this is pure discrimination. You are in fact conditioning both your son and daughter towards gender stereotyping.

And you realize what the greater harm is? You are making your son accustomed to this “Why do I have to do this?” attitude. The cycle continues to how he will treat his wife and his children and it’s just a loop.

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Please don’t do this. For all the husband, fathers, brothers, nephews and the other male ‘relatives’ who are reading this, please don’t think that you have the male privilege to subdue women and ask them to be a puppet in your hands. They are NOT. And it’s about time you understand.

You should not feel proud that your wife or mother cooked breakfast for you even though she was sick herself. There is nothing to be proud of that fact!

Try and understand the pain of women during menstruation, instead of ranting about how lucky she is to be sleeping all day or why did she not cook or why did she cook a particular thing or the most common question, what was she doing all day sitting at home? I reckon, if men were to menstruate, we would not have to fight for ‘menstrual leave’ anymore. Because, you know, menstruation is too much pain for the men to bear.

To all the wives or mothers or sisters or nieces or any female ‘relative’ who are reading this, it’s time for you all to teach your sons all that you have been teaching, preaching, advising and training your daughters for. The circular trend of this stereotypical mentality needs to be cut with the diameter of our progressive and well-meaning actions. And you have to make a start!

What if the family friend in the above conversation had replied back telling that, “Daughters are no responsibility. My daughter is also my child and how can I call her a responsibility? She is studying and she has full discretion to decide how her life should be. I would never pressurize her to marry just because she is 24 years or just because she is a ‘girl’. Sorry.”

Instead, the family friend gave a diplomatic response. He might have been proud of his daughter from the inside, but he didn’t speak out. Maybe he thought, “How can I tell that my daughter doesn’t want to marry in front of them? And what’s the point of speaking with them, they are of such mindset etc.”

Well, you are making a point to stand by your ‘own’ daughter. You are not telling that they should not be pressurising their daughter (Because you might have a moral obligation here to tell them not to pressurize, but you have no right). But, even when it is about your daughter, you fail to speak up, how do we expect things to change?

Things would never change if you accept these small talks as casual behaviour. Counter it in a responsible way. There is no point cribbing about women’s right in a classroom or proclaiming yourselves to be feminists. We don’t have to be a feminist to reverse the stereotypical gender roles. Let’s be humanist and take things rationally and logically.

Let’s learn to respect the individuals for what they are and not on the basis of what their gender is. And yes, it all begins with that small nonconformity to a narrow-minded, prejudiced and stereotypical small talks. Correct them right there. And by doing so, you might have just sown a seed which would grow into a tree spreading into branches of love, mutual respect and compassion and give shade irrespective of your gender.

P. S: I am no exception to this for it is something I fight out every day at home, family functions or while conversing with relatives, grandmother, father etc. I get into arguments, sometimes I fail and sometimes I give up thinking that, I will wait for the right time to hit my bullet. All that I want to ensure is to bring in the diameter to this circular stereotypical thought process in as many instances as possible. Life is too short to not try to not conform, right?


Image via Pixabay


About the Author

Pavithra V

Proud daughter of the strongest and selfless woman. All that I am today is the result of her struggle and sacrifice. And this is one small effort to put my opinions, views and observations into read more...

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