Updated: May 11, 2020
Before we begin with this article, I would like to give a quick heads-up that this article talks about the generality in Indian society that boys are somehow more privileged than girls. This article does not target those exceptional men (some that I know of) who continue to have high moral values in this skewed world. In fact, I would like to give kudos to those few exceptional men and their families for raising them fair and right!
The Difference in Upbringing
Why can’t Bhaiya help us in the kitchen? asked a small girl innocently to her mother while helping her with small chores in the kitchen. “Tere bhai ko khud apne kapdon ka pta nahi hai, vo hmari kitchen me help kya karega? Ulta hmara kaam bda dega” (He doesn’t know about his own clothes; how will he help us in the kitchen? He will rather increase our work.), replied her mom. This reply, seemingly unharmful, but fatal in the long run, said by most of the Indian mothers is the beginning of sons feeling privileged. This sets the tone of how a boy will be raised and how different will be the upbringing of a boy and a girl while living in the same house.
I detest the idea of raising a daughter and a son differently. It is hard for me to comprehend why a girl in her teen is taught and expected to take care of her house when her parents are away, but sons are not burdened by this expectation even if they are elder. Why it is the responsibility of daughters (and eventually mothers) to do laundry, wash dishes, clean house, cook food, and not of their sons. Who tells daughters to be so responsible and who tells the boys to behave like a whining baby all the time. Shouldn’t they both cook together when both feel hungry? Or both share the laundry load if both want to wear clean clothes?
This constant care and the excessive motherliness of mothers towards their sons make them paralyze in terms of taking care of themselves as well as taking care of their house. First, they are taken care of by their mother and then by their wife. Soon, this becomes the habit and sooner they start taking this for granted and consider it not their business at all. Imagine a hypothetical situation, someday, he and his wife are living alone, and unfortunately, the wife gets sick and is bedridden, how is he going to feed himself and his wife?, how is he going to take care of his house?, is it by being dependent on neighbors?
So, what is this thing that tells men/women about their core responsibilities? This is the idea, the mentality, which our family teaches us or the society imposes on us. Clearly, It is not a stamp with which we are born, this is something we adapt while growing up and this needs to be fixed.
A problem can be solved when people understand that there is a problem but the problem with most of us is that we do not realize that "there is a problem".
This mentality of banishing boys from house responsibilities in an early age gives rise to their false notion of assumed importance later in life. Kids need to be shown how things are done as they imitate elders. If a young boy sees his father consistently sharing house responsibilities with his mother, He will share responsibilities with his sister in his teens, with his wife later in life, and eventually, end up teaching his kids the same thing in the process.
Ignored Domestic Violence
Why is men’s expression of anger in the form of domestic violence pardoned by Indian society? Why are women not taught to NOT bear any form of domestic violence? Domestic violence is a menace to Indian society but sadly it is very much rampant as well. What is unfortunate is that in India (at least in rural parts) rather than teaching boys the right values, girls are taught to adjust to minor atrocities. You should pause and ponder how wrong is this and on how many different levels. These girls, when they become mothers will teach the same thing to their children and this wrongdoing will continue as it has continued for so many generations in Indian society.
Parents teach their daughters to be restrictive in her choices, her dreams, her words, her posture while sitting, her manners, her social conduct but the same parents allow boys to be whoever they want to be. This whole concept is wrong to the core.
Teach the same values to both or none of them so both grow up to be obedient or both grow up to be free.
As fathers, as mothers, as brothers, as sisters, as neighbors, we should make a big deal out of any domestic violence incident and any incident should not go unpunished.
The taboo associated with Sexual Education
Frequent women harassment incidences get me thinking about the need for sexual education in Indian society. The perpetrators of some of these immoral acts are boys in their teens and come from wealthy households which makes it even more alarming. It is hard for me to understand how convolutedly disgusting the mindset of Indian boys is becoming and I ask myself, who is to blame for this? Isn’t it “the fault in our traditions”?
It is understandable that kids while growing up develop curiosities about another gender. What is not understandable is the rush of Indian society to suppress the topic. Similarly, Why are girls brought up to not talk about their menstrual cycle to anyone? Isn’t it natural? Isn’t it happening or has happened or will happen to half of the human population? Why we create a big fuss about it? We should teach girls to ask and talk openly about this naturally occurring phenomenon and teach boys to respect, care, and be gentle towards girls in this time of the month.
We have a dire need to give our children the right sexual education because if we will not do it, their curious minds will end up getting the wrong education from other abundant sources in this age of information.
Confusing Morality with Choice of Clothes
As an inherently patriarchal society, we are way too judgmental and concerned about the choice of clothes worn by women. There have been many incidences where clothes worn by a girl have been blamed for consistent misdemeanors by miscreants. What is shocking and sad is even women complain about clothes worn by girls. Indian society needs to understand that choice of clothes lies with the individual and obscenity lies in the eyes of the viewer.
In the end, while Indian tradition is beautiful but at times it is not fair towards women or maybe our understanding of Indian values has made it partial for women. We can improve but first, we must be aware that we lack something. Traditions don’t have to be right, just because they are old. As intelligent beings, we must question the immoral practices and call them out at the right time so as to stop them from being passed on. I believe this is the right time to get rid of the above-mentioned faults in our traditions.