Becoming a bad daughter is not a difficult task. Isn’t it amusing that things as trivial as wearing a short dress or bold makeup, going out with guy friends or simply having more male friends than women can really bring you on the radar of the family, who will then police you for being a “bad daughter”?
As daughters, women are always supposed to do certain things and behave in a certain way in order to be labelled as ‘good’. It’s strange how the entire family’s izzat is firmly attached to a daughter and her decisions, while the sons can go about doing almost anything and get away with it. Once you step a little out of the line drawn for you, you are labelled as the bad daughter.
Why is it that even the slightest of our actions and the most normal of a daughter’s wishes are seen as a threat to respect of her family, so much so that it loses all faith and trust in her? Why must a daughter sacrifice her dreams, because they do not fit in the life charted out for her by her family?
For centuries, we have seen women being restricted to doing certain jobs or living a certain way, as it was believed that the home was her territory and her world. The outside world was considered dangerous and hence, women needed protection. However, all this was because the patriarchal society ignore predatory male behaviours, instead of burdening women with more restrictions, under the guise of keeping their best interests in mind.
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Hence, even today, we see parents giving lectures to their daughters on how they need to dress, behave, speak and live ‘properly’ in order to avoid unwanted scrutiny from society. The parents, instead of calling out social stereotypes, try to control their daughters instead. So having guy friends, having a boyfriend, staying out late, wearing short dresses, wearing makeup, or even owning a mobile phone are seen as the characteristics of a ‘bigadi hui ladki‘. Society sees such girls as a threat as they will influence others around them and urge them to challenge social norms. And so parents even get to decide who their daughter should befriend and who she should stay away from.
What will it take for Indian parents to realise that creating an equal society, teaching men to respect women is what will make the world a safer place for their daughters, instead of policing their lives? Do they not see how ineffective these short term solutions are, and how they only make their daughters unhappy and feel inferior?
Every girl has the right to live as she likes, choosing their clothes and friends based on her priority and thinking. No daughter is “bad”, it is the society that is unjust to women, it is our parents that are unfair to us. And for what? For simply speaking our mind, expressing our agency and demanding answers for gender bias and inequality. It takes too much to become a good daughter, and every women ends up wondering, is it even worth it?
Views expressed are the author’s own.
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