I grew up in a family where the restrictions were only for me and seeing my brothers doing everything without any accountability made me resent them.
I cannot really blame my family, the only thing that is to be blamed is patriarchy where religion is exploited and only thrown at women to control them and used as a justification to mistreat women and/or to keep them in the houses to eliminate the challenge they can pose to men’s masculinity if liberated.
We live in a society where working women are labeled as behaya while men talking sleazily about (laughing and joking) their female colleagues are considered to be completely normal. I grew up seeing my brother being more feared than my dad, and more controlling.
At 20 I was expected to earn, sponsor myself, get a 4 GPA, make perfect gol rotis, to pay my fee, take care of the entire family, prioritize them, submit and get married to whomever they choose, whereas my brother’s job is ‘’only to earn’’ and fetching himself a glass of water after office is simply too exhausting for him.
I am allowed to do a home based job (Thanks, dad!) but not allowed to interact with the opposite gender to enhance my skills because mene dunya nae daikhi. I have always been kept under a tight check, and not because they don’t trust me, but because I am a female.
As a woman I am expected to behave in a certain way, to a be a good little girl, protect my dignity, not talk too loud, or laugh in an “odd way”, be tidy, take care of everyone, do the household chores, be perfect because if I am not no one will marry me. It has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with patriarchy.
My family never had a great financial background; I never received pocket money when I was younger, whereas my brothers used to. I remember when I used to ask my dad and how he used to joke about me not having pockets by saying, “pocket money is for those who have pockets”.
Now when I am earning, they ask me to save my money meanwhile expect me to pay my fee and support my ‘’independence,’’ (yet interfering in every single decision I take) also every now and then asking me to quit my job because it is affecting my family life. Well, here’s the truth, I never had a happy family.
But then again, maybe I was too naïve once that I let my learned helplessness destroy me without even realizing it. By the age of 12 I started living in my own bubble.
By 16 I isolated myself and shut myself up and built the walls high. It wasn’t until late teens when I realized how negatively it had affected me, that was when I started lifting myself up only to get my wings clipped by the binders of expectations.
If you talk about patriarchy, there are always double standards, using religion and political system against women and in the favor of men. It is so deeply rooted in our culture that we, women spend our entire lives waiting for the prince charming, only to realize that how problematic the idea of a random person being our ‘prince charming’ is in the first place.
My parents and I am sure pretty much every desi parent have always told us to never talk to strangers but would sure as anything marry their daughters off to one, no questions asked.
To be expected to get physically and emotionally intimate with someone you have just met and to let that one person to dictate every aspect of your life because he belongs to the same patriarchal society where women are always inferior to men and are considered outright bewakoof.
The realization liberated me, had me kick out the thoughts of what would people say. I stopped caring. When I finally did show my own self, I became “badtameez“ because it is not socially (or culturally) acceptable for a woman to put her needs before others.
Who is she if not to be defined by her roles? A nobody. Somewhere between fulfilling other people’s expectations and pleasuring their husband’s, women lost their individuality.Women deserve better.
I liberated myself by doing everything I wouldn’t have dared otherwise; I jumped out of my bubble. I tasted liberation. A little rough? Yes. But again, for a woman, freedom is the ultimate struggle and the path of struggle is never sweet.
It isn’t about being rebellious, it’s about doing the unexpected, going against the norms, and it is constant a reminder that for a woman every day is a quest towards empowerment, a struggle to crush patriarchy and being the kind of woman who is not to be messed with, because a woman’s life is more than just to get married and reproduce.