Trigger Warning: Mention of self-harm
They say the ‘outside world’ brims of danger.
I, however, never had the need to step outside to face the cruelties of the world. It was right at home.
When I say the sexism at home makes me want to run away, what I really mean is – do much worse. But the headline doesn’t allow me to give trigger warnings.
I’m a cis-women, from the so-called ‘upper caste’, born in a fairly decent socio-economic background, studying in an English-medium school. I know there are millions of womxn who have it far, far worse than I do. But I have been invalidating my experiences by comparing trauma for years, and as I write this at 3 am, I realise I’m doing myself a disservice.
From a young age, I’ve witnessed the subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, hues of patriarchy.
When my grandfather isn’t there, my dad sits on the seat at the end of the table by default instead of my grandmother. No woman in my family has ever pursued a career before. My brother gets access to opportunities I was denied. Every move is supervised – the clothes I wear and the tone I take matters much more than the grades I get at school. My dad can’t stand me being more knowledgeable than him about some things. And my mom, who has internalised misogyny, thinks sexism doesn’t exist at home and I’m just being ‘too dramatic’.
I’m not going to go into individual instances because I’ll end up writing an entire Bible, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say it’s bad.
It’s funny you know. I run a full-fledged NGO on women’s rights. I speak at panels, partake in conversations on equality, call my friends out when they crack rape jokes. But at this point, my life feels like a scam.
Every time I’m asked in an interview about the obstacles I’ve faced, I lie. Once when explicitly asked whether my family was supportive of the work I do, I stated ‘they came around eventually’. I remember the chaos that was created at home because of this for weeks. So what I can’t say to people in my interviews, I’m channelling here anonymously. Finally.
My mental health has gone down the drain explaining to my mother that she deserves better. That we deserve better.
Apart from her, there’s no one I can talk to about this. I feel caged and 2020 has made the situation a whole lot worse by trapping me in a toxic and abusive household. I cry myself to bed every night, only to wake up and face the world with a big fat fake smile. There’s no one to explain to my teachers the reason behind my falling grades, or my friends my closeting. No one has the wildest clue that these are my lived experiences, because of the illusion that my family is ‘progressive’.
The worst part is that I KNOW there are uncountable women facing similar experiences as mine. Much worse, perhaps. If you’re one of them, I truly you see the light at the end of the tunnel soon.
For now, I’ll find solace in the fact that college will come soon and I’ll never need to turn back.
But food for thought – when the ‘outside world’ starts feeling like a tempting bubble to you, you know sh*t in this country is messed up. If you have the power to change it, no matter no minuscule your impact, I beg you to do your bit.