Where there is a mention of tradition or culture, most of the times women are the target. Specifically, in patriarchal societies women go through lot of discrimination. If a man from such society is reading this, imagine the horrors of leaving your comfort to live in someone else’s home and succumbing to the traditions made only for you. Atop it also facing the biases and preconceived notions from someone else’s family. When it comes to stigma and superstitions, a woman is always held liable for the accident she has met or luck/misfortune she has brought. Mostly such judgements are passed by another woman present there.
I won’t go very far, I will start with traditional Indian (majorly Hindu) practices. Women sit together and talk about wealth in the form of dowry a bride has brought. Mothers of grooms praise or humiliate the newly wed based on that. In still an alien home she is expected to wake up before everyone else, take place in kitchen and relieve everyone who was there prior to her. There are still many homes, where a ruckus is created (by another woman) when she doesn’t abide by 500 rules of marital dressing. A lot of my friends went through the horror of wearing compulsory bangles after wedding for a year despite the rashes, burns and what not on their hands. Others are decorated like a Christmas tree despite dreading them citing illogical traditions. The head in their family, a woman turned a deaf ear to their agonies.
Remember the book “Animal Farm”, where Orwell talked about sheep bleating blindly after hearing the bleat of first sheep. This is what tradition has done to us. We are mere followers, blindly accepting everything that has been happening from ages. We don’t intend to question it, not for our sake, not for the sake of our generations to come.
When Karwa Chauth comes, a woman is expected to stay hungry, even if she is pregnant. Because nothing else is important for “mothers”-in-law than their superstitions and sons. Post delivering the baby, birth of a daughter doesn’t create exhilaration like birth of son in many families. If a son is born, lo and behold, there is another set tradition to follow. But again, only for the mother. A mother of a boy is expected to keep another fast for his long life and well-being. Nothing for a daughter. Because in patriarchal societies a man’s life is more significant than a woman’s life. In case she doesn’t want to follow it, she stays silent in a fear that the family of groom will boycott her. After which a biased stigma of separation will haunt her more than him. Therefore, she continues to follow sexist traditions till her death, ignoring her age and health.
During the wedding, her parents do Kanya-daan. Being a woman, it seems more regressive it sounds. Suddenly she becomes a thing to give in charity from being a daughter who lived with equal dignity. Mothers don’t object it, and future mothers wont object it either. In work places as well, many times, women get insecure by other women and create tsunami of problems for them. Women haven’t totally learned to stand for each other.
Few days back, I saw a video, where a famous Islamic preacher Zakir Naik was giving a talk about symbolic beating of wife. He seemed to be putting efforts to reduce violence on women through his misogynistic statements. He never said that a wife should not be beaten, not even symbolically. He also didn’t talk about rule of metaphorical beating husbands, for the much bigger sins like when they rape in marriages, abuse physically or publicly or caught in infidelity etc. If you observe closely, you may find sexist things in most of the traditions.
If there is a God, he cannot be sexist. Only a culture, a community, a tradition, a religion or a human can be! Stand up for the women in your life, be it your daughter, wife, sister, friend, colleague or someone-in-law when needed, if you haven’t already. But before everyone else, a woman should learn to stand up for a woman.
Have you faced pressure to follow sexist tradition in your culture, or religion? Do you also think that we are brain washed from ages? Do you have an experience to share?