Feminist upbringing: “I am sorry I couldn’t give you a proper upbringing,” my mother gasped after knowing how child sexual harassment affected my mental health. But I didn’t say anything and kept staring at her blankly. I should have been happy that my parents finally realised what went wrong in our house. But that glimmer of happiness was clouded by the pain of the damage that was already done.
The hope that I could have had a proper and normal childhood disappointed me each time I took an effort to forgive my parents. I hold onto the wish that my upbringing could have been better, could have been feminist. Although it is too late now for the wish to fulfil, there is no harm in sharing it with other parents. Maybe, I can save another woman from being subjected to lifelong trauma.
Feminist upbringing: Here are 8 Things I Wish My Parents Would Have Taught Me As A Child
1.Gender role is a façade
A person is free to do whatever they find interest in. It is not necessary that a male child must learn to drive, and handle screws and electric wires. While a female child must know to cook everything. Irrespective of gender, a person must know the basics of surviving life on their own rather than internalising the idea of dependence over another gender.
2. Never stop calling out the wrong
No person deserves to be wronged, be it in the house or in public spaces. Society especially is against women calling out injustice because it assumes they should be in a subservient role. So parents must instill confidence in their daughters about opposing any wrong happening to them or someone else. Rather than inculcating the fear of losing reputation and life, parents must teach their daughters to fight for what is right.
3. Sexual harassment is not a woman’s fault
A woman should not be shamed for facing harassment. Parents must educate their daughters about good touch and bad touch, consent and confidence, and support them if they face any untoward situation.
4. Marriage is an option in life and not a necessity
A woman is free to delay her marriage as long as she wants or stay single if she wants to. Being a wife, bahu or mother is not the only goal in a woman’s life. She has the right to be successful in academics, sports and career too.
5. Financial independence of a woman is a primary need
Women should not be told that financial management is a man’s job and managing the kitchen a woman’s. Parents should thrive towards raising girls who are independent in every sense – socially, financially and professionally.
6. There is no career that a woman cannot pursue
A woman can do anything and achieve the world if she is directed and educated properly. Parents must not stop their daughters from exploring different things in life just because they are not feminine enough. Remember, a job has no gender. It just needs to be done, no matter if the person doing it is a woman or man.
7. Familial honour depends on a woman’s success and happiness and not her hymen
A woman need not sacrifice her desires and choices to protect the honour of the family or community. If a man’s achievements bring pride to the family, a woman’s freedom retains peace and balance in the community.
8. Sex is not a bad word. It is a basic need for human survival
Parents should not keep their children unaware of sex, consent and the right to orgasm. Sex education should be made mandatory in every house and school so that good sexual life is guilt-free, painless and consensual.
Views expressed are the author’s own.