DISCLAIMER: This article is neither directed at anyone nor written to offend. This is just general a rant from the author. Please take it at face value.
This is a rant. After 3 planes, 2, MAS planes down and a sudden, unexpected death of a family member, I’m not in the mood to forward any message saying,’ ‘Thirunthengge da!’ to my fellow Malaysians of Indian descent.
Today, I’m going to talk about the stages Indian females undergo which is so enduring on their part but so depreciated by Indian males, Indian families and society.
Indian females and the challenges they face
As very young Indian females, we are told to have Indian values which translates as inequality and absence of rights. It’s okay if our male siblings don’t wash their plates after eating, leave their mess everywhere but as females, we are told by our mothers that we should clean our mess along with our male siblings because ‘athu than pombele pillei ku azhagu.’
Indian females are bound by 1001 restrictions; cannot shake legs, cannot sit cross legged, cannot fold arms, cannot roll eyes, cannot smack lips, cannot talk back, cannot laugh too loud (I don’t know how much is too loud), cannot talk too much, cannot wear what we like (if we wear something fashionable, Indian males and society go all out to moral police us while drooling at scantily clad Indian cinema heroines.), etc. My grandma always says, “Girls shouldn’t laugh too much because if they do, they’ll cry later.” Logic grossly absent here.
Dads are Indian females’ first hero and male siblings are our first opposite sex friends. As munchkin Indian females, we’d climb up our dads’ lap and rest in his embrace, wrestle and chase our male siblings until we get our first period. Then WHAM! Amma says that all of that has to stop. No sitting on dad’s lap and no boisterous play with male siblings. No telling dad or brother on why we shouldn’t come to temple along with them or why we take longer in the washroom. Mom saying we shouldn’t use tampons because it may corrupt our hymen. Menstruation has to be kept under wraps always when ironically Indians announce to all relatives and neighbours that their daughter’s menstrual cycle has begun in the occasion known as sadanggu.
Then, adolescent Indian females attract the attention of adolescent Indian males. The latter will make advances and try to chat up the former. If the former ignores the attention the latter impose on the former for various reasons like fear, shame and kattupadu (restrictions) then the latter turn hostile and brand the former as supercilious (thimuru pudiche ponnu, padiche thimuru, etc) narcissistic, (Uzhaga azhagi nu nenepu, azhagu naale thimuru) and plain arrogant. If adolescent Indian females respond approvingly to Indian males pick up lines, whistle and cat calls then they are deemed cheap (ava yaarukum madinjiduva machi) and easy (iva mele kai podlam).
If young Indian females speak English, it’s showing off and mother tongue undermining. If young Indian males speak English it’s because they got what it takes.
Indian females are given demeaning monikers like ‘figure’, ‘matter’, ‘sarakku’, etc. If Indian females try to do the same to Indian males, Indian society goes, “How dare you brand males, you woman! Pull your punches and behave like a woman!”
In premarital sex, Indian females are reproached for not waiting until after marriage to have sex. Indian males are left off the hook. Indian males say that if Indian females don’t give space to their boyfriends, then surely sex out of wedlock won’t happen. Young, hot-blooded Indian males are innocent babies indeed. They don’t sweet talk their girlfriends or do emotional blackmail to make their girlfriends pander to their male carnal want. It’s Indian females who force themselves on their boyfriends. Indian females who slept with their boyfriends, thinking that they will marry them, only to be left after ‘matter is over’ are branded, slut, harlot, vandi, etc. The Indian males, who are the co complicit escape blame and brand. Virginity of Indian females is a big issue for the Indian society – that her virginity is above her life. Note Deivamagal serial.
Even in movies Indian females are pinned down with the culpability of being insincere and fleeting in love while Indian males are portrayed as ever loyal, honest and sincere in love. From the days of ‘aval paranthu ponale, enne maranthu ponale’ to ‘inthe ponnunggale ippidithan, purinji pochu da’ Indian, particularly to Tamil cinema audience, this ideal is consistently fed. This makes Indian males seem like brittle creatures suffering at the hands of heartless, brutal Indian females.
And, nowhere are Indian females are more sexually exploited than in Indian cinema. Heroes pair with heroines that look and are young enough to be their daughters. Indian actresses who are married are not given lead roles. This is because the tacit understanding that the Indian females who are actresses are now their husbands’ possession, one, another man cannot touch even if it’s in front a whole filming crew. But, those Indian actors who are married (most of them) act in romantic movies. No one bats an eye – it’s a non issue.
If Indian females fall in love, parents be like, “We’ve raised you for 20 something years, provided you with everything you needed at the right age and the right time. But you found a guy for yourself! Couldn’t you wait for us to bring you the right man who suits you in all aspects? What’s the hurry?”
If Indian females are dark, we are subjected to humiliation and rejection just because our skin is not of the hue which is propagated as beautiful by Indian standards. Relatives would suggest whitening creams and potential suitors would reject dark Indian females although they are no better where skin colour is concerned. Yet, many dark Indian males feel entitled to have fair wives – like it’s their birthright. Where does this idea stem from? Indian movies of course. Have you ever seen a dark heroine paired with a fair hero in Indian films? Amy Jackson passes off as an Indian girl in Indian movies.
Up till college, and career parents will tell Indian females to take care, be safe and be in touch with relatives near college or workplace if it’s faraway from home and one day, after marriage, the very parents will just send us away with a stranger we call husband. And, Indian females have to, now, put father-in-law and mother-in-law in the place of our parents, brothers and sisters-in-law in the places of our siblings. Like it or not, Indian females have to adapt to the new environment, tolerate and adjust to our new family’s idiosyncrasies and revere our husband as kanavane kann kande theivam. Indeed, Indian females live two lives.
If married Indian females want to visit their parents, we cannot do it at our whim and fancy. We have to ask permission from husband or in-laws and tell beforehand so that they won’t make any new plans. And, there is a limited time we can stay and mingle with the people we spent our first 2 and more decades with – husband giving stare like,”That’s enough, let’s go home.”
Then Indian females become mothers. And, despite working, we manage to cook hot meals for family and tuck our kids in bed for the night, being the first one to rise in the morning and the last to go to bed at night.
If the husband of Indian females die before them, then all semblance of an Indian female would be stripped off them – pottu, flowers, bangles and gay coloured saris. Indian widows are further dehumanized by the sidelining of them during life augmenting auspicious events. Imagine being granted 2nd place to bless your son/daughter on their wedding day just because your husband is dead.
Ithaneyum samalichi ungge munnadi ninnu pesitu irukure Indian females ku oru salute adicha yenna thappu?