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People should be worthy of respect. Our culture teaches us to respect elders. But it is the same culture that constantly demeaned and disrespected women.
Everything begins at home, as does gender bias, misogyny and patriarchy.
‘But they are your parents and you should respect them’ doesn’t work in all cases, sadly.
Women in this country are subject to bias from the moment they are born (and often even before that) So we better stop forcing women to revere their elders. Not everybody deserves respect, merely because you were born in their house.
Parents can be amazing people, they run to hold you while you falter, they are the shoulder you cry on. But these are the same parents and grandparents who told the eight-year-old to stop wearing clothes. They were the ones who told the fourteen-year-old to stay away from the puja room for five days, for no reason.
The same people told the 18 y.o. that intermediate is enough education and the 21 y.o. to stay away from male friends so she stays ‘pure’ for her husband. They told the 23 y.o. to get married, even though she wasn’t emotionally ready for it and told the 25 y.o. to go to some XYZ temple so she conceives soon. And they were the same ones who told the 27-year-old that she was useless since she gave birth to three daughters.
When a woman says that she doesn’t respect her family, listen to her story. Stop imposing culture and tradition on her. How does she even respect someone who bogged her down in every walk of her life? Women who grew up in abusive households muster up a lot of courage to live their life. ‘Parents do everything for our good,’ doesn’t work for them.
Several things change in a couple’s life they have a daughter. But we have always been lethargic to change. Even today, there are couple’s who believe their daughters should not have dreams and ambitions. Expecting their daughters to respect them is senseless.
Patriarchal families can’t digest women being opinionated. They want women to be cooks and baby-making machines. And sure, they are our very own family, but nobody would respect them.
‘It’s all over now. You have made your life the way you wanted it. Why can’t you respect them now?’
Really? The mental trauma is all over? Who are we to decide that?
I know women who fought against their families to wear what they like and do what they like. If the family doesn’t understand a simple word called ‘choice,’ I’m sorry I don’t think it is a family.
People should be worthy of respect. Our culture teaches us to respect elders and follow their orders. But let us not forget that in the name of this very culture, women are isolated, demeaned, or even killed or raped.
Women have to protest a lot at home to get their basic rights. Families often only raise women to be ‘marriage material’ or expect them to be only baby-making machines. These families do not deserve respect and we need to stop acting like they do.
Before telling someone to respect others, we must understand that respect doesn’t come with age. Would you respect a criminal just because he is older than you?
So when women tell you they hate their patriarchal families, understand that they grew up amidst striking bias. They have a reason to lose respect on their elders. And they were raised so terribly that they hate the houses they grew up in.
Instead of telling everyone that ‘respecting elders is our culture,’ counsel the elders. Explain them that their decades of experience does not justify everything they do. And if someone never wants to go to back to their family, let them be so. Families have to be good, not complete.
Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke
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