If you are a part of a WhatsApp group which involves all of your extended family, the chances that you spoke your mind might be negative. The chances of speaking in such groups decrease by huge margins if you are a young woman. It is not because you have nothing to say about that sexist joke your uncle just forwarded, but because speaking in such assemblies is like diving into a quicksand. The more you try to overcome, the more you’ll sink.
Young women doing anything by exercising their free will is seen as a threat to family honour in our country. Period. From shutting them down in public to dismissing their opinions even in virtual spaces, young women are hardly given the space to speak freely. Men in these family WhatsApp groups fell no shame while forwarding a politically incorrect statement but will make a thousand swords up your neck if you tried to callout misogyny. But why?
Young Women Silenced
If one has to quote in simple words, the family WhatsApp groups are virtual get-togethers, where men drink and dive with their misogyny and sexism up to their necks while patriarchy has their backs. Bother any young women to rebel against that and she will be taught a fierce lesson on how to behave like a lady. As the popular phrase goes, ‘history repeats itself’, men are doing so, even virtually.
Men in these family WhatsApp groups fell no shame while forwarding a politically incorrect statement but will hold a thousand swords up your neck if you try to go against their words. But why?
Women were considered subordinate to men for thousands of years. Here the sub-ordinance does not oblige in the matter of money, property, and other decisions, but sex. Yet, in the demand for equality men lost these spaces that only belonged to them. In today’s terms, these only belong to men, spaces are reclaimed in the form of family WhatsApp groups from where they could banish the existence of women.
In the same space a young woman, who could be anything she wants to be; is only seen as a potential childbearing human through the lens of the patriarchs. So, when these women express any opinion they are seen as a potential threat to their assigned roles and later to these acclaimed spaces of men.
Suggested Reading: Standing Up To Patriarchy On Family WhatsApp Groups: Easier Said Than Done
The root of blind obedience and family harmony
Unlike the West where individualism is the basis of livelihood, our society takes great pride in community living. But the roses are accompanied by the thorns; just like the practice of community living brought blind devotion with it. We are afraid to stand up to wrongful behaviour because we fear being ousted.
So, when a middle-aged uncle sends a wife-bashing joke to that family WhatsApp group you are a part of, your thoughts which oppose them could count as disobedience.
The need for the change
Believing in equal rights is one side of the coin and demanding them in your life is another. So, Dear women when you feel that your voice is being oppressed in the name of family harmony, speak up! Apart from making you feel a little better, it will also give others the courage to call a spade a spade. Your “rebellion” will definitely be met with distress in your family hence it is important you choose your battles wisely. Maybe it will inspire women around you to not bear with discrimination. Even if not, it’s important you take a stand for yourself!
The views expressed are the author’s own.