Sexism Exists In Our Traditions

Posted by Ishani Goenka
March 8, 2017

NOTE: This post has been self-published by the author. Anyone can write on Youth Ki Awaaz.

To achieve gender equality in a vast and diverse country likes ours, the right policies are essential. But first we need to address the flaws that exist in our culture. These flaws have affected the way women are viewed as in our society, the psychology of many adults and has led to the rise of male dominance. In this article today, I will discuss a few things that I strongly believe need to change in order to see better and safer future for women.

Sexism in Indian Wedding Ceremonies
It is still widely expected for the bride’s family to carry the financial burden of the wedding, and we all know how expensive Indian wedding are. How do you expect a woman to have equality in the marriage when their journey begins with such evident inequality? Another example of this inequality is the dowry system. Although dowries are illegal it is still actively followed in the form of “expensive gifts” such as cars, jewellery etc. For many centuries, our society has placed the groom and his family on a pedestal and it’s about time we give the bride and her family the importance and respect that they deserve.

A Daughter’s Lack of Role in Performing Her Parent’s Last Rites
Recently, I lost my grandmother and it was definitely one of the worst things I and my family had to experience, but it was especially difficult for my mother and her sister. My mother is the older of the two children and doesn’t have a brother. However, performing last rites in India forbids the presence of a woman let alone carrying out the ritual yourself. So, even though my parents have never discriminated between my brother and I and have provided us with equal love, respect and support, in the end it will be my brother who will carry out the last duty as a child, not me.

Considering Menstruating Women “Unclean”
Even today, in 2017, when a young girl or older woman is menstruating, she is not supposed to enter a temple or in some families, not allowed to enter the house kitchen and expected to use disposable kitchen utensils. Why? Because she is considered “unclean”. No women has opted for monthly cramps and bleeding for 30-40 years of her life. She was created this way. Yes, back in the day, I understand this was the case to provide women with rest and because of lack of access to sanitary napkins but to continue to follow it in a day and age where women are participating in Olympics while menstruating is unfathomable.

What Women Speak About Other Women
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to consider what you speak. I’ve started to notice that its mostly women bringing down other women. Its us, forming groups for “gossip sessions” and judge another woman’s clothing choices, who she dates, the number of boyfriends she has had, calling her “bossy” just because she is more assertive, calling her easy just because she wears her heart on her sleeves. Us as women need to support other women and their freedom to choose.

The above examples are just a few of many that exist around us in our daily lives. Our country and culture is beautiful but there is a side to it that has unfortunately led to numerous incidents of sexism, misogyny and violence. Yes, there are multiple families that do not seriously follow these customs but that is a very small percentage. An article or two is not going to change traditions that have existed for generations but I hope that it provides with food for thought and encourages everyone to truly assess our culture that has formed a mentality where women are still given less respect and importance.

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