When I was young, I heard my parents saying not to wear clothes that outline the shape of my body, not to leave the house after a certain time, not to draw attention to myself in anyway because it might provoke someone to make an inappropriate comment or gesture towards me. Even when my parents sent me to college and university and told me the value of education, I was told that the top-priority should be marriying a Tamil man whose family will appreciate my education and the way how I was grown up by my parents.
We hear people talking about how much we’re worth to the family we’re marrying into. We’re told that it’s not good for us and our family to live by ourselves. It’s important for the family to marry their first daughter in case of the second daughter who is waiting the elder sister to get married before she can get married. We’re sold and also bought for a price in the name of tradition, jewellery, cash and gifts. It’s like we are transferred from one caretaker to another. We’re violated in the name of tradition by the people who we thought loved us.
We’re asked to take up as little room as possible in this world. We’re taught that our contributions to society are valuable only in the context of being a wife and/or mother. But we don’t want our success and value of our life to be determined by our marriage and when we give birth to our children. We want to be valued for our personality, intelligence and strength – maybe like our brothers?!
When parents instill these ideas in us, not only they shape our thoughts about ourselves, they also make the boys/men easy to accept that we can’t be independent – emotionally and physically.