Sharing an email from a nineteen year old, Cautiously Optimistic. What would you say to reassure her? My response in italics.
I love your blog. But all the horrible news is making me a misanthrope. I feel like even though my parents are wonderful, some day, it’ll come time for me to get married, and I’ll wind up in a family that won’t care for me, my dreams, and my aspirations.
IHM: The ‘time to get married’ is when one meets the right person. If somebody does not respect a partner’s dreams and aspirations, then are they the right partner?
What do you think should a girl be willing to give up to get married and stay married?
Cautiously Optimistic: I feel like the good men are few and far apart, and the scary part is that it looks like it’s true.
IHM: Finding ‘the good men’ is made easier if one does not exclude those who make lesser money, are younger or are from a different caste/community/religion etc; basically when one is not looking for a Protector and Provider but for a life partner who has his own dreams and aspirations, and who wants a life partner, and not a mother of his male heirs or a daughter in law and care giver for his parents and extended family. Such a person would also see himself as a responsible adult, not as a Shravan Kumar.
Cautiously Optimistic: I’m afraid that when the time comes, I won’t have the courage to stand up for myself, for what I want, and I’ll wind up being a doormat.
IHM: An awareness of one’s rights and responsibilities, and what is non-negotiable, understanding personal boundaries and understanding how abuse begins [How Abuse Begins] is empowering.
Also, relationships that don’t work out are an indication that one was empowered enough to walk out (please note our grand mothers did not have this option). It’s okay to make ’wrong’ choices and it’s okay to try again. There are no guarantees, but knowing there are other options is reassuring.
Cautiously Optimistic: My parents share my fears. That’s the even more depressing part. I know I should be happy that me and my sister have such a wonderful safety net, should something in the future go wrong, but even so, I’m scared. I’m scared that because of misogyny and sexism, I’ll never find love. I turn 19 today. I have a loooong way to go. But even so, I’m scared. All I can do right now is concentrate on my studies and work hard. I know it seems a bit demanding, but a little bit of reassurance would be nice every once in a while that my life won’t turn out that way. Well, at the end of the day, my life is what I make of it, but what can I make of it when I’m a coward? How can I find it in me to be brave? I know it’s not what people conventionally ask, but I figured I’d ask it anyway. I can’t be alone.
- Cautiously Optimistic
IHM: Being honest and facing the fact that misogyny exists and refusing to be a foot soldier of Patriarchy, and watching other men and women do the same can be reassuring I think.
Having a voice is empowering. We have come a long way from being too afraid to raise such questions.
So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?
A detailed check list of conditions from modern young women of marriageable age.
An email: “The relatives seemed to be offering ‘condolences’ for me to my mother, having the misfortune of having an ‘unmarried’ daughter…”
What worries me is, will we be able to find guys who have a similar thinking process?
How Abuse Begins. - Desi Girl