What does it mean to be a ‘good’ Indian woman? What does it mean, as a woman, to belong to Indian culture?
We want to be women that belong to the Indian culture, while we also have opinions and a mind of our own. Is that too much to ask? Is that even possible?
Art by P
In our opinion, Indian culture as it is commonly defined today is so steeped in sexist and discriminatory bull$*#& that it is almost impossible to see what lies underneath, if anything all! Would there be anything left in the culture once we remove the sexism, misogyny and discrimination?
As Indian women living abroad, we have often felt like outcasts, like traitors of the culture every time we speak our minds; hold ‘radical’ views; speak of sex, speak of dating; decide not to have kids; have kids without being married and the list goes on. We know that this is not unique to the Indian community. Indeed, it is hard to hold any of the above views and belong to society in general. But there is something about framing it as being against the ‘culture’ that stands out in the Indian context. This framing, we believe, is what makes the struggle different.
Sometimes we wonder if all this is in our heads. But then again, don’t you know when someone is judging you?
Don’t get us wrong – this makes us sad! There are times when we yearn to be part of the community. And believe me, we have tried- Hanging with other people of our own castes (yeah, don’t ask, that happens a lot more than you think in the Indian community); going to we-speak-the-same-regional language-party; more ‘liberal’ get-togethers. The problem you ask? We were ourselves and said ‘controversial’ things, acted with a little self-respect. The result – being labeled ‘loose’ and ‘easy’ women, women you can harass and make passes at because she has/ had a boyfriend before, women who will sleep with anyone because she has already slept with someone.
If belonging to the Indian culture means having to fit into a frame of the ‘ideal’, we would rather not belong. If we are going to be judged by our marital status or opinions, I reject that ‘culture’ and want no part of it.
If you happen to read this blog and have had similar experiences, leave us a comment! Can’t wait to share the bitterness.
If you happen to read this blog and disagree with us or want to call us names or mindlessly defend Indian culture, leave us a comment as well! There is nothing like letting people prove how stupid they are than simply letting them speak their minds.