Monday, November 27, 2017

Not a daughter's world

All my life, I've wanted a girl baby.

Last Friday, I was driving back home after visiting my friend and her baby girl. She, unlike me, wanted a boy - and I've never understood why. Baby girls are adorable! The cost of educating them and clothing them would be almost similar- with the cost of men's grooming having exponentially risen over the past few years. So why not a girl? Why a boy.

However, as I was driving down that road, and yet another guy leered at me - almost looking down at me with a contemptuous sneer on his face, even though he was the one on a motorcycle - I realized that if I had a boy, I wouldn't have to protect him from such looks.
If I had a boy, I wouldn't have to call him to check why he hadn't returned home at 8:30 pm, like I had to answer to my grandmother.

All my life I had wanted a baby girl.
Also for the most part of this life - or for a lot of it, I've wished I were a boy.

I've been a fierce feminist for a long time. I like to challenge why women can't do what men can. I argue that women are equal - if not better than men - they can create life after all.
When my dad said driving isn't safe, I learnt to anyway. I bought my own car earning every paise that went into it. I travel to many countries alone. I pay my keep and I'm self-sufficient.

However, it's the same me who hesitates to walk back alone at midnight. Or even take the public transport at times, for fear of getting groped.


Last month I was part of a gender equality discussion with experienced engineers. The men in the room - a group of at least ten of them - didn't understand why educated women staying at home needed help in getting back to the workforce. "If they don't feel the need to, why should we disturb them?"

Last week, I read an article about a mother who had to have a discussion with her eleven-year-old daughter about being catcalled and how to deal with it. She wasn't India nor was she in India.

Last week, in my own house, my father was disappointed with me and thought me ridiculous for refusing to wear a Thaali (a chain that is put on an Indian Woman, at the wedding) - and wanting to exchange rings instead. The logic that rings are more balanced because the man and woman wear it didn't appeal to him. "There are somethings expected of a girl if you want to belong to a society" was what I was told.

Yesterday, I was refused registration at a Cancer Camp - Breast and Ovarian Cancer because I was still unmarried. I tried to explain to them that my mother had cancer, and I wanted to be tested for cancer before I got married. But no. Vaginal Pap smears are not to be done on unmarried girls, that lady declared, looking at me like I was stupid. How could an Indian girl possibly mar the symbol of her virginity! Of course, that is more important than being screened for some deadly disease.

I get it now. Unfortunately, I now understand why it is more preferable to have baby boys or be boys in this world.

And I don't like it one bit.

I won't give up though.
I will keep fighting for equality.
I will keep hoping for a better world
A gender-neutral one.



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