#Personal Stories

Did Sexism Sneak Up On You As You Were Growing Up? Story Of An Indian Teenager

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Sexism and girls: I was a happy Indian girl, and this is not my story. I was a privileged Indian girl, and this…um hum… is not a sad story.

Being the youngest in the family I was always the one causing trouble except for that one time when my elder sister decided to put some cells in her mouth. But that’s a story for some other time. I went to one of the best schools in the country; I was
always allowed to do whatever I wanted to you know as a kid. I would play with Barbies and with cars, I would run around the house like a roller coaster, I would say anything and everything that came into my mouth, I would sit on my father’s shoulders believing to be on top of the world.

So when in sixth class, my sister taught me the word ‘feminism’ for a group project, it made no sense to me. I was living in a family without sexism. I would proudly boast in my class presentations that in my family all are treated as equals. My father was the one who gets up early in the morning and makes my mother her bed tea. My father is the one who used to get me ready for school. I was living in a family without sexism. I remember him telling my sister when she was 16,” You know how we fought against the entire family to provide you both with a ‘good’ education in premium schools!”

You see, they had the story of coming out of small towns to create a bright future for themselves and for us. Some would look at my parents in disbelief as to how weird it is for my silly parents to save for my education and not for my marriage…my dowry. I was living in a family without sexism until I was not.

I grew up. Sexism for me as a 13-year-old was all that big things you know…sexism for me was underpayment, overworked females, abuse, rape. The fact that my father would sometimes assume that the distracted and slow driver in front of him on the road must be a woman, that my teacher in school would stop me from picking up a heavy bundle of books and would ask a boy instead, that apparently many believed that my parent’s home is not my home that ladkiya toh parayi hoti hai.

Sexism for me as a 17-year-old was every little thing around me. I realised that in this world, there is always an extra glass ceiling that has to be broken by a woman to reach somewhere. I was a happy Indian girl, and this is not my story.
Every time my success would be applauded as they would say ‘ Tum toh humare raja bete ho’. Like any other kid that age, I would be so glad not understanding the thinking behind that compliment. I started noticing how my mother would always stop my father from washing the utensils—that how the stereotype is not limited to the minds of one gender.

Every time my success would be applauded as they would say ‘ Tum toh humare raja bete ho’. Like any other kid that age, I would be so glad not understanding the thinking behind that compliment.

It would be wrong of me to say that I don’t see change around me. I do. I have been provided with the ‘liberty’ to always question my parent’s sexism. But isn’t that the problem? Everything that I always thought was mine…every opportunity and every chance in my life that I thought made me were all actually just a privilege. I was privileged to get an ‘education’. According to every friend and relative of mine, I was privileged to have such open-minded parents. According to my parents, I was privileged to have liberty. So everything that I thought just typically exists because it is right was actually a privilege. A rarity. A favour.

I was a happy Indian girl because I was raised as a boy.

The views expressed are the author’s own.