It's easy to feel alone in this fast-paced, social media-obsessed world. But one girl has offered solace for hundreds of women who may feel oppressed by their conservative upbringing.
Reddit user sodesigirl, shared an almost 800-word post yesterday titled, 'Rant: Being a Traditional Girl'. The post shares the 26-year-old's frustration with her traditional Indian upbringing, which she says stunts her emotionally, sexually, socially, and financially.
"I had to do 'girl' things only. Be more shy, be more religious, don’t be loud, don’t be a rebel, don’t go out in the sun or get dark, don’t go out at night, don’t wear that, don’t drink this, don’t question so much, don’t use your phone so much, and basically don’t do the things the boys in the family still get away with doing," she writes.
"...basically don’t do the things the boys in the family still get away with doing."
The post also touches on how she feels sexually and emotionally inexperienced with boys as a result of both how she was raised and how she "grudgingly" abides by the rules her parents outlined for her.
"We weren’t raised the same way. We were raised all wrong. We never got the chance to get out of our parents’ shadows, be independent. Most Indian girls don’t ever live alone in their lives; they go straight from father’s house to husband’s bedroom....
"When a guy asks me out, I would turn him down instantly (even if i was interested), just because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents... I’ve lost so many opportunities this way in the past few years. I’ve become the stuck up ice queen for most of these guys. I feel like an idiot, a spineless coward for not taking those chances. I have zero relationship experience and I’m 26!"
“'Don’t do anything that will make your father ashamed. He won’t survive such dishonour.'”
Sodesigirl concedes not everyone's family is like hers and won't experience the same issues, but writes "most of my friends face them too."
Most commonly, she finds her friends relate to how she was groomed from early on to be the perfect bride, and how even her academic laurels are mere bridal accessories.
"I realised girls and boys are taught selected skills, and this whole thing falls under the pretence of “culture”. You’re basically supposed to be a beauty queen with all the skills of a housewife and also get a Masters/Doctorate on the side. Oh, after that degree, get married to the man your parents pick and forget about that so-called career (unless your husband’s family approves)," she writes.
Many commenters commended sodesigirl for her post, telling her how much they resonated with her experience.
However, there are several movements, case studies, and personal narratives that tell a story of hope and defiance against these Indian stereotypes and cultural norms.
Take the #unfairandlovely campaign from a few months ago that saw women of colour stand up against the South Asian cultural beauty standard of lighter skin being more attractive than darker skin.
Another example is the 2010 women's activist group, the Gulabi (or Pink) Gang. The group is made up of rural women of all ages who all wear pink in solidarity against domestic violence against women. These activists defy cultural norms in communities where it is seen as acceptable for men to hit their wives, to scold them in public, or to simply treat their wives like property.
Hopefully, as women continue to take a stand up to out-dated cultural norms, women like sodesigirl will no longer feel shackled by their upbringing.