Indian parents often proudly state, “Humne apni beti ko bete jaisa bada kiya hai“. This directly translates to “We have raised our daughter like a son”. When parents say this, they mean that they have raised their daughters to be strong and independent. Traditionally, only sons were raised that way. Today, a woman can do all that was previously done only by men. This includes driving, having a career, managing finances or even having an educational qualification. While as daughters, we are forever thankful to our parents for raising us to be self-sufficient, what we are not okay with is their comparing our upbringing to that of sons. Can we just drop the phrase, “like a son” and start raising our children equally?
Parents take pride in raising their daughters ‘like a son’
In a male-dominated country like India, liberated parents of daughters take pride in announcing that they have raised their daughters like sons and that there’s nothing that she can’t do. They are always gratified with their upbringing and don’t hesitate from boasting about their daughter’s achievements. What they don’t realise is by doing so, they are actually lowering the morale of their daughters and other girls who hear this. Daughters are ultimately made to feel uncomfortable with their own identity and are expected to become “a replacement” for sons.
We cheered Aamir Khan’s character in Dangal when he said, “Humari chhoriyan chhoro se kam hai ke?” but we ignored how it actually presented the idea of gender equality in a flawed manner. The young girls had to assume the identity of sons to fulfill their father’s dream. The deep rooted patriarchy prevalent in our country was very well evident in Mahavir Singh Phogat’s character who is constantly seen desiring for a male child who would grow up to become a wrestler. When that didn’t happen, he forcefully trained his daughters for the sport so that they could make him a proud father “just like a son would have.”
Why should we make our daughters feel that they have to “compete” with men in order to be successful? Why do we need to set men and their accomplishments as “standards” and expect our daughters to reach them? Is it so difficult for us to stop dividing everything into genders and accept a woman’s achievements without comparing it with men’s establishments?
Raise your children equally
Dear parents, we know it is not very easy to shed off the ages-old conditioning and start raising your children equally. But instead of just raising strong, independent and opinionated women, you should also consider raising men who can cook, wash and clean. These are all life hacks and both men and women must be equally skilled in these fields. Do you remember the last time you asked your son to serve snacks to the guests or clean the house? Probably, you never did so. It was always your daughter who was pushed to carry out these chores.
These tasks are all thought to be “feminine” and male-entitlement doesn’t allow men to do even a small part of any of these. Parents should now stop defining tasks as being specific to any particular gender and teach both their sons and daughters to manage their home, family, finances and career. The home belongs to everyone equally and so, the responsibilities too must be divided equally. Similarly, having a career and carrying out tasks beyond the domestic arena is more of a necessity than a choice in today’s time. It empowers both men and women and helps them make their own choices.
When you raise your daughters “like their male counterparts”, you indirectly tell them that they will receive recognition only when they give up their “womanhood”. Stop demeaning them for who they are and erase all the differences in bringing up your sons and daughters. That’s the only way we can become a self-dependent country.
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