Gender-isms

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Gender-isms are the subtle comments, the caring messages, the seeming compliments that are often said time and time again until you are shaped and moulded to be the desired version of your gender. Also known as the ‘good little indian girl’ phenomenon.

I could list hundreds of disempowering comments my mother has made towards me that has let me know that as a woman, I am less than. And that my ambition to be an equal, is at times, an inconvenience to her.  The theme that remains is that education for a woman only serves one purpose – to catch a more educated (translation: rich) man. But pursuing a career, thinking about having other desires besides having children are only things men can consider. These are non-options for women, and if women pursue their non-options then it is justified to break them down by using emotional manipulations. Again, I could list hundreds of comments that reflect this attempt to control me and mould me back into what a woman should be.

The most ironic comment reflecting this was when I was much younger, my superstitious mother who believes in gurus being able to predict the future found out that as per her trusted guru, I would achieve what ever I wanted to achieve. Amazing news right? Nope. She came home, listened to these pre-recorded predictions and let me know that would not be me. That my brother would achieve what ever he wanted to achieve but my fate would have me working on and off and struggling with work. She determined that although this guru was someone she once trusted – he could not possibly be correct about my future because I was a woman, aka, weak, aka meant to stay home and raise babies while my husband ‘took care of me’.

Although it sounds endearing when my parents say that they just want to make sure ‘I am taken care of,’ the sad reality is that just again implies that I am weak. But of course, my brother does not receive this endearing response – because I guess penises must be magical objects that give humans strength. And silly me, all this time I thought strength was derived from will power, but I should have known that the real problem was that I just needed to get myself a dick. As our indian culture loves irony, ironically that would just result in even more discrimination.

So what to do? How do we ‘less than’ humans make it through this world? Do we convince ourselves that we are comfortable with what we have been shaped into? Or do we fight and then accept that we will feel incredible guilt, debilitating shame and disownment or at minimum, constant rejection of our choices and abilities to make our own choices?

Gender-isms are also known as no win no win situations fuelled by tradition and culture.

Chit Chat.

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I am a girl

Today, I am feeling a lot of emotional pain. I am really struggling with my parents and their gender roles. I am very sad, I feel broken and I don’t know how to accept that my parents will never treat me equally because I am a girl.

I have been working very hard for 21 years to undo all the childhood drama that entered my life. I have become an admirable, respected woman in my profession and my personal life. But, my parents still can’t seem to fully understand that I am not the typical brown girl – and I don’t want to be – nor will I ever be. That just isn’t me and I love me, and I don’t have any intentions of changing that just to appease my parents.

Loving your parents in this culture comes with a lot of obedience, if you don’t do what your parents want, as unwanted as it may be, there is an immediate sense of guilt – that you have been raised to feel. It has served a purpose in our culture, the guilt/shame has successfully ensured that many remain within the confines of what is acceptable. Constantly, I battle this shame/guilt and then ask myself is this what I really want or am I trying to appease my parents, because somehow then they will accept me and I will feel loved again?

I truly do miss being loved by them – in what I thought was an unconditional manner. With age, I just can’t see my parents the same way anymore. I see more and more flaws, and I see less and less desire to try to be better. My mother may always make passive aggressive comments towards my amazing partner and she may always stare him down just because in their eyes he is not good enough for me. Why? Because he is short, dark and not earning a six figure income.

Every time I am around them, I realize more and more how superficial they are. In all the comments they make – that is how they have lived their life – I have NO idea how I somehow managed to have a mind of my own and actually decide to dedicate my life to helping others and living simply – not materialistically.

Maybe in the eyes of my parents, I am not a success – based on their definition of success. Maybe I am doomed to always be the black sheep because I will marry someone they don’t approve of. Maybe my brother will always have it easier, because he is a boy and now that he makes a lot of money, he must know what he is talking about. Maybe he will always be respected and given unconditional love because he found a way to find happiness that my parents can live with. Maybe, they can accept that he lives with his white girlfriend and treat her very well, while they will always be awkward at best with my down to earth boyfriend just because he doesn’t look the way they want him to or have the bank account they want him to have. Maybe, just maybe, there is a 1% chance that they will come around, that they will accept my boyfriend eventually. Maybe I will always be a black sheep and I have to accept that my choices are too overwhelming for them.

The emotional pain remains. It comes and goes in waves, but never did I realize how difficult it is to see the worst side of your parents and to see them to be the cause of your pain. After all the forgiving and accepting of their mistakes, all the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on therapy, after all the emotional work I have done to let go of most of my hardened anger and resentment, I find myself back in a place of a lot of pain and back in a place of intense anger. I wish I didn’t need to feel accepted by my parents. I wish they could be more respectful towards my boyfriend. I wish that they could truly understand who I am and why he is the one for me. But for now, I guess my wishes will remain unanswered and unfulfilled.