How Just Saying ‘No’ Can Free You From Society’s Expectations And Biases

Posted by Suchetana DuttaMaji in #BHL
January 16, 2018
Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

Ever since I was a child, I have been taught to agree with my elders, be polite and easy-going because that’s what ‘good girls’ are supposed to be. ‘Good girls’ are calm, composed, servile and never, ever say no. I was told that it was ‘for my own good’, that opinionated women were the devil’s creation and that a good mother, daughter or sister is never supposed to say no to her family or, anyone, for that matter, irrespective of the cost to self.

But as I grew up, I realized that while everyone told me it was for my own good, it was often another’s whim that my acquiescence would serve to satisfy. By saying yes, I was not necessarily nurturing myself and becoming a better person but rather giving others the power to control my actions according to their own fancy.

It was not just me. I saw people, especially adults, use this label to scare even boys into conforming to their wishes. For example, when one of my male friends wanted to become a fashion designer instead of joining his father’s textile business, his family accused him of being a Bigda Hua Ladka. Another was similarly labelled by everyone in the neighborhood just for having long hair!

So this year, I have decided to put an end to this and reclaim the word ‘No’ from all those who tried to tell me I’m a Bidgi Hui Ladki for saying no. I will say no whenever I feel I am being unfairly subjugated or discriminated against due to my gender or my personal choices. I will say no whenever I feel threatened by patriarchal and orthodox notions of Indian culture and tradition. I will say ‘No’ to unfair labels that try to hijack my independence by normalizing a lie.

This is #MyBHLResolution. What will yours be?