No, We Don't Always Sing Rabindra Sangeet: Bengali Women And Sexist Stereotypes

Here are a few bizarre, sexist and stereotypical comments from 'others' that young Bengali women are tired of hearing and can rant days about.

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Bengali Women And Sexist Stereotypes: Rabindra Sangeet is important to Bengali culture but not so much that every time one meets a Bengali woman, they demand an on-the-spot performance. We might know the gaan but or we may not know it but we are not duty-bound to entertain you to prove our Bengaliness. If you like it so much why not listen to it online?

Yes, we are outspoken, well-read and unafraid to embrace our bodies but that doesn't mean we do "kala jaadu". We do not ensnare men. So, here are a few bizarre, sexist and stereotypical comments from 'others' that young Bengali women are tired of hearing and can rant days about.

Bengali women love fighting

According to Shrija Ganguly, a working professional, no one asks Bengali women about the sexist stereotypes they face, because most of the time they are stereotyped as fiercely 'dominating' women who do not take bullshit from people. "Isn't it weird to get stereotyped for not taking 'bullshit'?" asks Shrija Ganguly.

Saying this, she recalls an unexpected incident she came face-to-face within New Delhi in 2016. It was the last place she expected an aunty to tell her that Bengali women are argumentative.

Though this did not take her back, she has been hearing these comments from her friends too, who used to send her Deepika Padukone's pictures from Piku and ask, "Why do you all (Bengali women) love fighting?"

"Is it my problem that I have my own opinions and I am outspoken about it," Ganguly says to SheThePeople.


The word fighting then streams out to other aggressive behaviour of Bengali women, which then conveniently boils down to 'you, Bengali women are very dominating types, na?'

Both Namrata Ganguly and her friend Rajanya Sen ferociously nod when asked whether any of them have faced this stereotype. "Shockingly, it is not just men who come up with this. We get blamed by women too. The two most common tiring words used are short-tempered and hot-tempered," says Namrata Ganguly.

Bengali women get married "late"

This brings us to the stereotypes on marriage. Bengali women getting married 'late', a stereotype that both Namrata Ganguly and Rajanya Sen faced in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. "I don't understand why it needs to become such a big issue for everybody on how till the age of 30, we (Bengali Girls) can just think about our career and travel plans," asks Namrata Ganguly.

Sen and another Bengali woman colleague have faced this in her office too. "Bengali men also travel to other states for jobs or education but it is only women who get asked on her aspirations," says Sen.

Bengali Wedding Rituals PC: YouTube


Will you Sing A Rabindra Sangeet?

Megha Mallick remembers her aunt telling a story about her parents' marriage. "My mother was asked to sing when my father had come to see her for the first time. I did not know that it happened to almost all women of my mother's generation. Asking only Bengali women to sing is not new. I know friends and family who have had a similar encounter where they were asked by an absolute stranger to sing Bengali songs as we can sing well, according to them," says Mallick.

A One-Child Family?

You only have a girl child, you should have tried for a son? Namrata Ganguly shares her mother's plight, who for the longest was asked why she chose to have a single child that to a girl child only?

Namrata Ganguly said that whenever she used to travel outside of her home state for internship, education or work, she always heard this question, "You Bengalis only have one child? What will your parents do after you are wedded away? Then if said I will take care of my parents they will say how can  you do that? " she says.

feminist dads, daughters empowered beings A still from the film Piku.


You Don't Look Bong Enough!

"What the hell is a Bong look! People have said that my hair looks Bengali but my eyes don't. I do not understand how do you define my 'Bengaliness' from my looks," points out Shrija Ganguly.

She adds that this is very problematic and often gives her self-confidence issues. "People are literally confused about my body. Leading me into the same crisis. People have complimented me for having a broad body and they have also told me that my ass is too big," she adds.

Initially, Shrija used to reply or argue against these comments now, she just gives a blank glare to the source of the comment. But these are not to say that she does not ever fight back, but her simple urge to 'these' people are do not stereotype for the things that a woman needs to be applauded for.

Suggested Reading:

Priestess Solemnising Weddings Sans Kanyadaan, Have You Seen This? A List Of Bengali Women-Centric Films

Seven Problematic Bengali Wedding Rituals We Should Get Rid Of

25 Feminist Bengali Movies Of All Time You Should Watch If You Haven’t Already

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