Indian elders have a long list of favorite dialogues that they use to excercise outdated notions of patriarchy today. 'Ladki Haath Se Nikal Jayegi' is one that is dearest to them. Be it a family function, or a regular conversation at home, many of us have often had to hear this phrase. From preferences to mannerisms, almost every aspect of our personality that is not up to the standards set by society is targetted. The aunties have made a checklist and they judge all your actions accordingly. Wearing a dress of a length that they consider short or hanging out with guys or speaking loudly or maybe voicing your opinions in public are some of the misdemeanors on that list. If you tick any of these boxes, then get ready to being called a spoilt girl.
We are still stuck with a backward mindset that expects girls to abide by the behavioral stereotypes society has framed. Their opinions need to be voiced and their voices have to be heard.
Sharvani Sinha, a resident of Noida, currently studying at MIT, Bangalore tells SheThePeople.TV how she faced taunts for hanging out with boys, "I have always been into sports. While growing up, a lot of my female friends stopped playing sports probably because of puberty. But I did not stop playing. So the only people left to play with were guys. As a result of which I used to play sports with guys and started hanging out with them a lot more. This drew a considerable amount of attention from the aunties." The biased mindset that plagues our society portrays budding sportswomen in poor light. Interacting with guys and maintaining a friendly relationship is completely healthy and doesn't mean that any girl has slipped out of her parents' control.
Girls in remote areas especially are confined by the boundaries set by their families. It's a norm to get them married at a tender age and they are expected to start families in the early twenties, thus forfeiting their careers and dreams. Imparting education to girls or letting them do jobs often implies losing control on them since they will become more confident individuals. Sandhya, a matriculate residing in a village in UP, working as a salesgirl to financially support her family, says that she was looked down upon by the neighbors and relatives as she drove a moped to commute to work.
However, gendered restrictions don't just limit girls outside of their homes, they do it inside them as well. And girls who challenge such stigmas have to pay the price for it. Apoorva Pant, a Delhi University student pursuing Economics claims that her straightforwardness often landed her up in trouble. She speaks her mind boldly which many elders disapprove of. We are still stuck with a backward mindset that expects girls to abide by the behavioral stereotypes society has framed. Patriarchy feels intimidated by girls who speak their mind, because it knows that they are challenging and question the norms burdened on them, instead of enduring them in silence.
Our clothes don't define our disposition. Befriending guys doesn't reflect upon our characters. Being too loud or confident doesn't snatch away our femininity. And education can never spoil us.
Another Delhi University student, Aadhyaa Singh has had to hear the above mentioned warning often issued by society to Indian parents because of the choice of her clothes. She says, "I've always worn clothes that made me feel comfortable and my parents have never stopped me. However, I had once heard a relative of mine asking my mother to keep a check on my activities since her 'experienced vision' sensed something wrong in the way I used to dress up."
Poonam, who is a mother of an 18-year-old daughter shares that she never put restrictions on how her child presented herself. "I've always stood by her choices and have defended her actions in front of the family members who criticized her. If she's right then nobody can force her to do otherwise," says the homemaker.
With changing times, it is necessary to transform these age-old perceptions. Our clothes don't define our disposition. Befriending guys doesn't reflect upon our characters. Being too loud or confident doesn't snatch away our femininity. And education can never spoil us. All of us have the right to lead our lives on our terms! Which is why society needs to retire this phrase of 'Ladki haath se nikal jayegi' and let young girls just be.
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV