How old were you when you first noticed any gender bias anywhere…?

Was it against yourself or somebody else? How old were you?

What were your first reactions? Did you think along the lines of, “This is the way it is.” Or did you think, “But this is wrong.“?

If it was against yourself, were you glad you weren’t born a girl/boy?

Did you ever voice your opinion – how old were you when you did that, how was it taken?

Were you ever able to make someone think again, or actually change somebody’s mind? Were you ever told you were too idealistic or ‘too radical’?





106 thoughts on “How old were you when you first noticed any gender bias anywhere…?

  1. The first time I witnessed gender bias was at my father’s parents’ house. No women were required to sit at the dining table and have lunch/dinner while the men had theirs. They had to wait until they were done to have their food. All women were treated like that. And when a major discussion was happening between men in the TV room, women, even though they were interested, should sit/stand in the next room and listen to the conversation. It was sickening. A typical setup where women were limited to kitchen and didn’t have a say in other stuff. Lot has changed now, but I stopped visiting.
    Luckily until I started thinking on my own, I didn’t experience any gender bias. But once I grew up, I experienced it firsthand in my own house, though there were no male siblings. Yes, at times I actually thought ‘why am I born a girl’.


  2. My parents neatly fit into traditional gender roles when I was growing up, even though my mom used to work. I didn’t start questioning it until I was 7 or 8. I just took it as given until then — if my mom slaved in the kitchen, so did everyone else’s.

    The first time I noticed gender bias, even though I didn’t know it to be that at the time, was when my brother was born. I was 4 years old, and until then had been my grandpa’s darling. When my brother was born, he started showering the same love and affection on him and acted like I was invisible to him. I felt very differently about it than about my mom spending time taking care of the baby. I knew he was a baby and needed an adult to take care of him. I understood my mom doing what she had to. But even at that age, I felt there was something wrong with the way my grandpa had suddenly started treating me. My mom says I used to go running to her every few minutes “complaining” – Grandpa is taking him out for a walk….grandpa got him a new toy, etc. etc.

    Never wished I was a boy, though. As a 4 year old, I never made the connection between my grandpa’s behavior and the baby being a boy. As a 7/8 year old, I was already a feminist in making.

    I’ve been fairly successful in changing my Dad’s mind…..and that would be an understatement. He’s now a raving feminist himself, which is hard to believe for anyone who’s known him through his chauvinist, wife-beating days. My mom has always been a feminist at heart, but that was a heart hidden under layers of conditioning. I did manage to help her shed a few layers, though. All my life, I’ve been told I was too idealistic or too radical by my parents. Or that “the problem is with you, not with the rest of the world.”

    Now they both tell me I was okay all along and they should have just let me be.


  3. During my school days there were sewing and needle work classes for girls and electric gadget classes for boys. But I never saw anything wrong in it THEN. I saw it as default.


    • Oh tell me about it Bhagi…I’v always been a sporty type. Boys could go out and play and girls had to stay for needle work classes. And man didnt I hate it? I always ended up stitching the fabric n my tunic together. Used to sneak out to grounds and play; got caught and punishments wr horrible.


  4. Rakhi time.

    We are three sisters and were required to lug ourselves to our aunt’s place every rakhi to tie one to our cousins (boys). We were friends with them but on this day everything seemed totally different – they had to touch our feet, we had to say stuff along the lines of asking them to ‘protect us’ and all that crap. It was supposedly just tradition but I did not like it.

    In any case there are enough and me examples in my community – we are business folk and the roles are very clear – boys go on to mind the family business, girls get married and mind the house and kids. Except the power balance is completely skewed in favour of the men.

    Totally helped me make my mind up though – I was not going to end up as a helpless dependent wife. It grew stronger and stronger all through my slog in the one thing I could control – get a good education and set off on a good career. Also very early on I had decided I would either marry a sensible guy (though I did not know what exactly that meant) or never.


  5. I was about 6 or 7 and my mom and I had to take an auto somewhere. The driver was in a chatty mood so he droned on about something or the other. Then (dont know how the conversation got there) he said “lekin beti toh paraya dhan hoti hai”. I asked my mom later what he meant and clearly remember being incensed by the explanation.


  6. my maternal grandfather was the only one in the family who so openly favored his son’s sons against us. . But then I had also heard and seen about the discrimination they meted out to my mother that I knew to just steer clear of them. I knew it was wrong , never was fond of them , more so grandfather. and then during my wedding coz his side is more “conservative” , they got away with a lot of BS. I also see some discrimination against my SIL, in very subtle ways. When I tried to talk to her about standing up for herself , I was told I was being too modern. I still try to work on it from behind the scenes, but I realise unless she wants to there isn’t much I can do .


  7. I was about ten. My mom, sister and I stayed with my paternal grandmother after my father’s death when i was five. Cousins used to vist every summer and I realised that my male cousin was not required to pick up his plate and wash the plate and the area where he ate. I was always asked to do that although he and i were of the exact same age. Also, another silly thing – at my house, chutneys were made for idlis and dosais only if there were males in the house. In the absence of males, it was always the standard idli ‘podi’. And since my house anyway had no males, because both my father and grandfather passed away early, we never had chutneys unless the son-in-laws came visiting!


    • The idli thing is heart-breaking. My mom told us a similar thing about her upbringing. She has 3 sisters and 1 brother. Apparently eggs were cooked only for the brother. When he appeared his 12th/graduation exams, a newspaper (not normal in their household) was specially bought to see his results – not for any of the girls. I was older when my grandfather sold off a lot of his property, gave a token amount to his (now married) daughters (and some could have used it) and the rest to his son.


  8. I noticed it first at my grandparents place, when I was around 9-10 n had gone out to play cricket with my cousins and their friends(all were boys), my grannie gave me a good scolding for playing in sun with boys…


  9. Being a boy, I did face gender bias a few times. One of the things that is considered a very ” guy thing ” is driving cars !! We all know that boys start driving cars when they are 14 – 15 years as they think it’s really cool and something to be proud and show off about, not realizing that they put themselves and others in danger and also break the law. When I turned 18, people started telling me to learn to drive as I’m now eligible to start. But, there were many other important things going on and so I never took driving lessons, and as some people first feel scared about driving and feel they are not ready, I felt the same.
    Some people started telling me things like “You are 18 man, are you a girl or something, that you are afraid of driving ? “. At that time it pinched me that I could not drive and probably I was not man enough to do it. But, now when I look back on it, it’s nothing. There was nothing wrong if there was a delay in learning how to drive a car regardless of whether you are a boy or girl.

    Another very common thing most guys say if anyone is honking behind them in a car or overtakes them and nearly hits their car is this “A woman must be driving” ! It’s really funny, because 99% of the accidents that are caused are mostly caused by rash and drunk driving by guys, and then we end up coming with a ridiculous statement like this.


    • Lol and when I’m driving and someone honks or something, I try to get a look at that person (don’t ask why, just a reflex!) and if it’s a woman, I always end up thinking, “you’re a woman! how can you act so immature?!”

      Come to think of it…even that is gender bias…!


  10. quite a young age, maybe 9 years or earlier.. we used to have this navratra’s (still in vogue – during Durga puja & sometime in april around ramnavami) were 9 very young girls (<< 12) were invited to have food after some puja and all. Only girls were invited, and they were given some money after the event. Also, during Rakhi the girls were given money by their brother's or cousins brothers. The idea was – males will earn when they grow up – but girls have no means of income..

    Around the same age, my grandmother, mother all would ask my younger sisters to wash utensils or help them in the kitchen etc but would never let me do it. They would say- how can such a big boy (9 years old) be asked to do such thing. Well, to prove a point I would go against their wishes and do lots of work.

    Similarly, I could never understand why I couldn't share the bed with my sisters at that age!

    The seeds were there quite at an early age.. so became a rebel πŸ™‚


    • I remember being invited to a neighbor’s house during kanjak, and I refused to go because I felt that they do not treat their daughter (who was my friend) as they treat their son. She was not allowed to roam around alone, to play games and climb trees etc etc which the rest of us reveled in doing. I guess not being allowed to play and climb trees qualified as gender bias for me even at that time! So I refused to go to their place and told them that I refuse to take part in this hypocrisy of worshiping girls when they are not rerating them as equals the rest of the year. I much have ben abt 10 then – Yeah the seeds of feminism were sown early πŸ˜›


      • Now, that you remind me – Ya, I used to touch the feet of little girls.. infact till quite an age whenever I got a new shirt or something my grandmother would make me touch it to the feet of my younger sister (so-called “Devi”) .. It was good want of being the nicest boy in the house I would comply.. but oh!.. there was so much going wrong..

        I could never never understand as a very young boy why my mother couldn’t go to meet her mother and be with her as long as she wanted or visit her as often as she can despite being across the border (Nepal) without any visa issues by just 40 km !


  11. The first time ever, that I remember questioning the bias was sometime in school (maybe 7-8 years) when for “dahi handi” during janmashtami, our school allowed only guys to make the pyramid to climb and hit the ‘handi’. I used to be visibly cranky because I wanted to climb as well, and remember complaining to the teacher, but nothing changed!
    At home, dad was (is) a chauvinist, but I guess all his chauvinism was directed towards my mom. I guess it was impossible to cure him, and we got some respite only after their separation.
    As a kid, I could see the bias, but I guess I was too small to put it into words. Other than “this is wrong”, I could not really explain why it was wrong. I became more vocal as I grew up. At home, there was no bias directed towards us kids (inspite of dad being a chauvinist). If there was something bothering me, there was always space to ask, and be ensured of a decent conversation. I never tied rakhis to my brothers because my mom was against the whole idea of a brother protecting a sister (and not the other way round). Apart from the awareness of the bias, I guess it was inculcated in my mind at a very young age that one must stand up to removing the bias, from our own life to start with and then raise voice against the bias around us. I guess I was a feminist in the making. These small things and teachings which seemed so trivial at that time, make so much sense now, and are so instrumental in making me who I am.


  12. It was rampant at home. My brother was my mother’s favorite. I was always being suppressed on grounds that I was a girl and had to be “tamed” Funnily enough that made me very assertive and rebellious


  13. By the way including myself and I would say for others – your memory probably serves you till 8-9 years of age.. and infact maybe you were 6 year old, but you cannot relate to what was your age. But if you ask for when do you see that gender bias.. doesn’t it start even before you are born?

    The are not celebrations when the girl is born and hit the roof if a boy is born ! .. Don’t want to get into the details.. but it is there.. right from the birth as one would say ! ..


  14. I think it was when I was a teenager and made lots of friends. There never had been gender bias in my home, and I was a timid child, so I didn’t have many friends either when I was a child. But when I grew up a little, and wanted to do the normal teenage stuff, I noticed my friends would give some extremely silly reasons for not going for a walk, a film or just hanging out and talking. Stuff like they have to do the dishes, or go home and help with the cooking. Some responsibility is fine, but I don’t think it is nice when the girl’s brother was in front of us playing cricket! Or that their dad would be home soon. So what?! It used to annoy me so I ended up spending a lot of time with the boys.


    • Ditto! Girls used to run off before 6… I used to remain n the playgrounds till it gt soo dark tht we cudnt makeout the ball/shuttlecok… and later girls stopped coming outta house at all… Have no idea whr they are now except for 2, eventhough we practically grw up together… but guys are still in touch…


  15. Maybe when I was 9 years old, and my younger brother (5 yrs at the time) threw a major tantrum because he had to give money on rakhi to me and 7-8 other local and much older cousin sisters! He thought it was terribly unfair to him. At that time, I thought I was lucky being a girl, because I was the receiver of this money ;-).

    Gradually understood the bias as I grew. By teenage was convinced of the need to be financially independent. Environment in the family was fairly liberal and progressive.

    Later, during my teenage, an uncle passed away, and his 4 young daughters, my cousins, stood up strongly midst plenty of disapproval by the priests and family elders and picked up his arthi on their shoulders on 4 sides and took him to the cremation ground. This custom is reserved only for sons, and if there are no sons, male relatives are required to perform the last rites. My sisters refused to have their male relatives do this, saying how does it matter if he did not have sons, he had daughters who are equally capable of everything that sons could have done. This was HUGE. I heard a lot discussed about this in general, and was awestruck at that time. It was very inspiring indeed, and I still get goosebumps writing about this.


  16. Long time reader who enjoys your posts, finally de-lurking..

    I noticed it in our house for the first time when I was about 6 or 7. My brother was made to go to tuitions, but when I wanted to tag along, my parents said I didn’t need tuitions. It was partly true, but there was also the money aspect and I perceived that even at that age. As we grew up my parents would spend whatever it took to ensure that my brother had the best access to coaching classes, and paying for admission to the professional college when he didn’t get through on merit alone. When it came to me, I had to put up a fight with them to go for coaching classes. The worst part was they did this not because they couldn’t afford everything equally for me, but they had to save for my wedding/dowry etc.

    Interestingly my father is highly educated and held a high level government post. Although most people around him were corrupt, he was a strict and sincere officer who would cut down on the bureaucracy and got things done despite challenges. While everyone around him amassed wealth from corruption, he is highly respected for his work and people would lobby for him to be transferred to their areas to see some improvement. Despite this I guess he is just conditioned to show a bias against the girl child. I used to bothered by this all along, and would fight it. But I was only successful to a certain extent.

    My parents have changed a lot over time, and I don’t see much of that bias any more. They treat all the grand-kids (2 girls and 2 boys) equally, and also treat me and my sister-in-law as they would treat the son and son-in-law πŸ™‚


    • Hmmm I should say that I had the exact opposite of your childhood. My brother would never get what he wanted. If he wanted a new bat he was asked to come first in class. Else no bat. But I had to just shed a tear and my dad would get me whatever I wanted. My brother would take whatever he was given, I would fight till I got what I wanted. So I guess I was my dad’s pet πŸ™‚


      • Good for you πŸ™‚ But isn’t that gender bias too. I’ve seen an extreme case where mom is in control and discriminated against the boy (girl who got more than the fair share in the property etc.) and left the boy to fend for himself. I guess most families fall somewhere in between. If only parents do not show any gender bias, we’d will be able to break this vicious cycle. On my part I’d resolved to show no bias between my boy and girl if I can help it.


  17. There have been a quite a lot, IHM…like when I always used to see my grandmother, with whom I spent a major chunk of my childhood, forever slogging it out in the kitchen and on top of that being taunted and snubbed and scolded for just about anything by my grandfather( thankfully he never raised a hand at her) I used to wonder why she took it in so much and not retaliate. I was way too young- maybe 5 or 6?- to club his tyrannical behaviour or my granny’s submissive behaviour under gender-bias or anything else.

    The other instance which in my mind wreaked of major gender bias was when after every meal the men refused to take their plates and glasses to the kitchen-sink and left the dining hall. It used to make me cringe when I’d be see the women of the house pick those plates and glasses and carry them without much of a dissent. Oh and if any man would even attempt to pick his own plate and walk up to the kitchen, all the women would come hounding him to take the plate from him and even yelp out ‘ this is a woman’s job not a man’ I used to get so bugged by this very gender-stereotyping.

    And then of course when I attained puberty, thats when I understood bias in the truest sense. When I was told to sit in a certain way, walk in a certain way, not to visit temples, do poojas on certain days! It was too much of a hard-hitting realization for me! I was for the first made to feel low and pathetic about myself, about being a woman!


  18. Never faced it in my parents’ home, but my in laws’ house is different. Though both of them are highly educated and been exposed to various cultures(across the world), still dishes need to be served by the women in the house and so is the dish clearance(including plates)! The men will just eat ,wash their hands and go sit on sofa to chat.
    I go mad everytime and told my husband I wouldn’t entertain any such behaviour from him. Thankfully, he totally understands and helps me with my chores. He explained to me that his father’s background, the way he grew up was in such a environment and that I should understand where he comes from. Though I do understand all that, I can’t help but get totally irritated about it!


    • looks like almost everybody talks about the difference coming up while cooking are eating.. may be ppl are still thinking kitchen is womens right and place. rest can be shared??


  19. it happened may be when i was ten years old. me and my male cousin had our lunch together, after i that i was asked to take my plate and his plate too to utility by my grandmother. simple reason she gave was, after years i would be married to him, so she wanted tot rain me from young( typical Balika vadu serial dadi types). i protested, infact my mother says, that i used to threatened to put case against grandma saying that she is promoting child labour by making a child like me work.
    later comparison started with mine and cousins marks. that is when my grandma realized that is study better than him, i became and engineer, he is still trying had to finish is and hunting for job. now, she has complete respect for me and girl child.
    she is glad that she didn’t make me get married to him, when i was 15, and didn’t stop me for studying more, thought they did stop me from pursuing masters.
    yes, by studying and getting a good job, i did change my grandma’s perspective. she now believe that a house can run smoothly by both the spouse contribution, just not women’s job to do all house chores.

    but i still find it difficult to make hubby help u at kitchen , when MIL is around.. πŸ˜›


  20. I must have been around eight or nine. We were at my father’s parents’ place where the whole extended family had gathered and sundry relatives began to poke fun at my maternal grandparents, maternal uncles etc. I was horrified, began to cry and shout at them, which only seemed to amuse everyone present. I wasn’t really all that fond of my mother’s side of the family but to me it seemed terribly wrong that they should be spoken about like that in my presence. I didn’t buy the explanation put forward by those offending relatives that it was all in good-natured fun.I wasn’t convinced even when my mother assured me, privately, that it was all said in jest and that it was not to be taken too seriously. I was increasingly aware that she had to put up with this because she was a woman.

    I’ve not really been able to change anybody’s mind till date but I still keep at it!!

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told that I am too idealistic, but I’ve never been called radical–because apart from spouting feminism from time to time, nothing I’ve ever done in my life can qualify even remotely as radical.


  21. I was about 10. I discovered that my periamma’s son goes to a private English medium CBSE school while his sisters were sent to govt tamil medium schools – because he was a boy and he had to be better educated. I asked my mom why her sister agrees to that.. I even went up to my cousins and asked then why they did not complain. I can’t recollect what they exactly told me but I remember being not convinced at all.


  22. I guess it was when i was about 8-9 years old. During Navrathri times, we keep Kolu in our house.The my mom used to go house to house calling people for vethla-pakku(betul-but) and make delicious sundal to serve them. My cousin brother used to accompany us.Now, both of us-my cousin bro and me used to learn carnatic music.But in every house, i was only asked to sing which annoyed me to a great deal(i hated singing in public).My bro was also irked that noone noticed him( he loved getting appreciated for his music skills). Also, only i was given vethla pakku in their houses and nothing to my bro. I hated it that i was treated specially and he hated it that he was ignored


  23. I think i noticed it most when i was 12-13 and hit puberty. Thankfully my parents were very broad minded and did not do any “functions” to celebrate(and embaress me), though i did see it happening for some of my friends. But i found it weird that guys did not have functions for their attaining puberty!!!


  24. I tried to think of my first memory of bias but can’t come up with anything as definitive as others have cited. It was there but not obvious, just something you absorbed. Like we were told that girls sit with their legs together. And in our building, boys had a certain mystique but that could be because there were so few of them our age. Once when we were about seven or eight, one girl’s mother told all of us not to jump because it could affect our uterus. We didn’t even know what a uterus was! And there were some things boys didn’t do – like someone else above said, sewing classes. And most of our parents conformed to gender roles – dads working, mums at home.

    I began to think more critically about it all when I was a teenager and began to rebel against anything traditional. And I’ve been rebelling ever since.

    I felt the full force of gender bias when I got married into a different more conservative culture. My wedding preps were an eye-opener. And later I was amazed to see such things as women offered food last, not done in an obvious way but casually and unthinkingly.

    I go to too far even for my own family. They were shocked when I didn’t change my name after marriage and tried to tell me it would confuse my children. They are shocked that my husband cooks and I don’t, even when my in laws are around. My mum is constantly telling me ‘not to fight’. Then later when she sees how all the thigns she said are impossible – like a husband really helping – are possible, she is admiring.


    • This was sort of how it was for me. There wasn’t tangible bias between the treatment of brother and self in my house; my dad is fairly liberal and my mom is a mix of conservative and liberal. So I got mixed messages from my mom : “what will your (future) in-laws say? A girl who can’t cook!” but then also “studying is important right now – study, cooking can be learnt anytime”. Kind of ignored these, because when I questioned her she admitted that she didn’t really mean all the “conservative” talk. Also her random “women-must-toe-the line” remarks were tempered by dad’s attitude – he encouraged both the brother and me to study/read/explore. Also, my parents never advocated the attainment of marriage as “the goal” – it was always studying and doing well.

      My dad can’t boil water (although he will, if asked) – my dad is the wage-earner, my mom has always been a SAHM. Still, it was expected that I would work towards being financially independent (like my brother). I have always seen my dad treat women – all women, not just my mom, but relatives, friends, a female teller at the bank etc. – with respect and courtesy, as people with their own opinion. My dad is considered “hen-pecked” by the extended family; apparently “real” men don’t treat women like human beings.I have, in conversations, heard him disagree when people talked of women not needing to study etc. I admit I see him thru a daughter’s eyes, and although I now disagree with him on certain issues, increasingly, with the people I meet – sophisticated on the outside, but conservative inside – I am thankful that I have had his role model to look upto.

      When we went to a relative’s house, I got to hear about my “ungirlyness” and my mom was scolded for rearing a girl who didn’t want to cook and clean! I ignored these attitudes then because they did not have any repercussions at home, although I did get surly and resentful.

      Gender bias really struck me when I got married, during the marriage preps, and then when I saw how other families perceive the role of women, and how I was expected to fit in. It is one thing to have your mom in the kitchen and dad at the office; it is another when you realize that “women’s work” is back-breaking, unpaid and taken for granted, and YOU have to do it. Nothing quite like having injustice served to you personally to open your eyes.

      My in-laws don’t force their views on me (coz I have husband’s support), and I don’t force mine on them – although they do know that I think “differently”, because I do voice my opinion on familial situations, like when my husband’s cousin got married to a wife-beater (I and husband said divorce, family said patch-up), or the husband’s uncle, a widower at 50+, decided to get remarried, much to the horror of the family. The husband and I supported it and we said so.


  25. The moment I was born, things like ‘oh! fir se ladki ho gayi”, “M (my dad) ka bhagya hi kaisa hai” etc etc. Of course I was too too too small to even understand what’s going on (:D) but while I was growing up, I’ve heard this story from others, so…..

    And many relatives had problems with my father sending us three sisters to a good English medium school of the small town near the village where I lived, you know, because why send girls to good schools..

    I was often asked by people how many siblings I have, I would say I have two sisters, and they would be like, “and brother?” I would say no, they would be like, “oh! bechari”…….

    My father decided Me and my elder sister will study in Chandigarh after we finish our school, several ‘relatives’ talked behind his back, “kya karlega ladkiyo ko shehar mein padhake?”………

    We were a joint family when I was a kid, my uncle had a daughter,… his wife gave birth to a son after the girl was some 10-11 years old and then they asked my father and other uncle to find some other place to live because, “ab voh ladke wale ho gaye hain….”

    Boys don’t pick up their utensils after eating then it was no problem, but if we girls didn’t pick them up, it was a problem…

    Boys were told to go to the playground and given basket ball to play if some day we had a free period, and we girls were told to sit with our ‘heads down’ on our desk and not make any noise…..

    Once my dad’s uncle told me, don’t care about what others say, tu toh M(my dad) ka beta hai beta…… Now I know he was being supportive but why call me a beta, I wondered is being Beti so bad…..(don’t remember the age)

    List is endless……


    • //Boys were told to go to the playground and given basket ball to play if some day we had a free period, and we girls were told to sit with our β€˜heads down’ on our desk and not make any noise//
      Typical thing, innit? Girls are called to the fore when assorted chores need to be done. They are not to entertain themselves, however. When you;re job’s done, switch yourself off like a robot or become invisible.


      • Yes, I remember how girls were always assigned class-room cleaning duties, like wiping the board, making sure there was chalk and a duster while the boys made paper planes and threw chalk pieces at each other.


    • “I wondered is being Beti so bad…..” Say Cheese, being a Beti is very bad indeed, did you not know?

      The only reason the sun shines on India is because of the “ladkewale” Indians. Thank god for that, otherwise us women would be blamed for that too. πŸ˜‰


  26. I come from a family where the women (my mum & aunts) were all ‘self-made’; and were exceptional role models. yes, during family functions, I remember the men, children and elders (both male and female) being made to sit down first for lunch…including any lady who was hungry/had to leave early. But then when the women sat for lunch, all the men served the food.

    I think the first time I experienced gender bias was in my teenage years. I had been to a popular temple; and during the ‘mangalarthi’, women were made to stand far away, and the arathi was passed around only to men.

    The second incident that stands out in my mind was my job interview. I was asked if my parents were ‘looking out for grooms’ for me. THe interviewer was a middle-aged gent in a high post – and he said ‘Don’t get me wrong. I too have a daughter of your age, and I have already started searching for her. The reason why i ask is we wil invest considerably in your training, so if you get married and go away, or go in the family way, then it becomes a liability’. I asked him if he asks the same question to a boy. He laughed and said boys dont go anywhere after marriage. I asked him why he is so sure a boy wont quit the company after receiving the training, or starts a new business with the dowry money. He obviously had no answers.

    By then I realized the discrimination is rampant everywhere. Everything about me – be it my short hair or my interests/hobbies or the music I listen to were always dissected by people unknown to me to assess how ‘marriageable I was’ and ‘what a tough time my parents will have’, and ‘why on earth don’t my parents exercise control on me’.

    No I’ve not been able to ‘change’ anyone – I mean i’ve not tried. I find it tedious just breathing in front of these nincompoops, forget having a conversation.


    • //I find it tedious just breathing in front of these nincompoops, forget having a conversation.//
      I understand πŸ™‚ With some people, there’s no point in arguing. Their proverbial bulbs will never light up even if you cry yourself hoarse.


  27. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of gender bias. I had an older brother who was allowed to run and play in the mud and hammer things while my mother wanted to dress me up in horrible constricting clothes like a doll. I hated it. She wanted Princess Di and got Xena, poor lady. It seemed so unfair and I hated it so much that I convinced myself that at some age (very vague), I would turn into a boy and be free. I had the good sense not to tell anybody about that and eventually outgrew both the expectation and the desire.
    Today, I am very happy to be a woman and I am still annoyed at any restrictions people try to put on me for that reason. So annoyed, in fact, that I just don’t put up with it.


  28. Std. 7 when they decided that girls got sewing and boys got electronics – until then it was yoga for all. I rebelled against the sewing teacher and asked the headmaster if I could go to electronics class. He said, ‘If the teacher will take you, you can.” I won’t forget going up to the class, requesting the teacher, having him crudely and loudly ask the entire class (a combined class of 70 – 90 boys) whether girls were allowed there and the entire bunch laughing loudly.

    Had to slink back with tail tucked in to sewing class where the teacher took it out on me for trying to get away. Suffice it to say that the next 2 years of sewing were also pretty painful for more reasons than one.

    Have always been told I am too idealistic, too bold, ask too many questions. Now it is an asset in certain places where people let me lead in order to enjoy the results of this questioning and ‘assertiveness’ and in others, it is a huge taint on my feminity. Aah, well…when a whole class of teenage boys has laughed in your face and you handled it at that age, very little else can shame me now! πŸ˜€


    • In our school the girls had kathak or music while the boys had carpentry.

      I must admit that I never envied the boys their carpentry class. I was very happy learning music and felt very bad for the boys. πŸ™‚


      • There was a dancer in our school – a boy with long hair and a dancer’s gait. If I felt bad for me, I felt horrible for him.

        Love music or carpentry – that would have been a more equitable choice. Surgeons practice on tea towels….maybe even from that standpoint some needle work for boys was in order. I mean, if I had to suffer, might as well have some company!


        • I didn’t exactly imply that girls didn’t enjoy carpentry. I only stated that I preferred music to carpentry.


  29. I don’t remember which class, probably 6th or 7th when the girls had to learn sewing and boys art – it made no sense to me. I complained to my parents and my teachers – some of them were very sympathetic, but couldn’t do much about the system.

    The time that I saw it happening in a really sad way was with one of our neighbours. They had 4 daughters, and finally when a boy was born, they had a massive party. We don’t recall a single birthday party for he girls, but they celebrated the boy’s birth with a party on the scale of a wedding. My parents were shocked, and disgusted, and that registered in me as well…

    Have I changed anybody? I don’t know. I do voice my opinion about gender bias whenever I encounter it..


  30. Oh missed the last Q – did I get anyone to change?

    Well yes. Am terribly proud of this so please bear with me – I asked my FIL why he could not help my MIL who was unwell. Why she alone should still cook while he was perfectly okay and just sitting and reading the papers. I said all this very politely but was still unsure if I had crossed any line. I had just had baby 2 and was totally tied down, else would have pitched in.

    Well next thing I know he was helping her make phulkas and much to my surprise doing a fantastic job of it too. Not sure if my telling him changed him or anything but he is definitely a lot more helpful. Could also be that he sees his sons now being very comfortable doing what was supposed to be women’s work – kitchen, home, kids, and realises its not that bad. And believe me he is a superb home-manager – he has taken over a lot now from MIL.

    I know this will sound cheesy but this is something I never dreamt would happen, but happens fairly often now – my mom and MIL sitting and chatting and my FIL and dad making chai and serving it to everyone!


  31. Gender bias is as common in life as Sun in the sky that we do not notice it. First thing one notices is the different roles assigned in the family to mother and father. Then one realises the difference in freedom between boys and girls. This must be as early as 4 or 5 years. Slowly one learn to live up to one’s gender role. Since as boy you feel ( or you are made to feel ) you are in a better position, one do not react.
    By may be 12 I realised from my mother’s narration of family history that discrimination was rampant against females not only in our family but all around. She only stressed the education part….She reminded us she was lucky to get a PG unlike most of her sisters. So I could notice that my (elder) sisters were given as good education as us boys. I also realised many of their class mates though
    bright were denied Professional education.

    When did I protested against discrimination?
    In colleges being part of Progressive Student movements make u by default anti discrimination. But even then protests were minimal….
    As a Dr I might have been able to prevent premature ending of some bright girls education since ur words carry some weight.


  32. I grew up in a family where my Mom called the shots. I don’t remember my brother or me being treated any differently. If Ma indulged him , my dad pampered me silly. And we both of us would get spanked when we got too naughty.


  33. I guess I first became of gender bias while watching those atrocious 80s Bollywood movies — the ones which had Jitendra caught helplessly between his ‘two’ women.

    They had interesting titles like Mera Pati Sirf Mera Hai and Pati Parameshwar and Main Tulsi Tere Angan Ki.

    I remember wondering why Jeetu looked so unhappy — if he thought it was wrong to have two wives, he should have simply said “no, thank you” and not married Rekha, right? Even at 6-7 years of age, I knew something was wrong with Jeetubhai’s actions, but didn’t know what it was. πŸ™‚

    The more sobering part of growing up was encountering domestic violence in my parents’ circle of friends.

    When I was 12, my parents became friends with our upstairs neighbours. This was an urbane, “sophisticated” couple who’d have dinner with us every week. The “aunty” would drink gin and tonic, stand by the window and smoke while chatting with my mother.

    Every 5-6 months, we’d have “aunty” banging on our door, late in the night. She’d burst in, sobbing, with a bruised, swollen face, while “uncle” could be heard shouting upstairs. Their nine-year old daughter would cower behind her, terrified and silent.

    The storm would pass; “aunty” would go home in the morning and life went on. Neither my parents nor “aunty” and “uncle” ever talked of it once it was over. Everyone pretended as if nothing had happened.

    This really confused me, but I sensed that “uncle” was somehow at fault.

    Over the years, I saw a few other “aunties” cry in our drawing room, while my mother and her friends soothed them and shooed me out of the room.

    All this left me with mixed feelings about married life — some “aunties” and “uncles” appeared very happy with each other, others not so much. As a child, I remember thinking that marriage was like a lottery. Some won while some lost, often badly.


    • @Biwo, LOL at those movies where Jeetendra was caught between two ladies!! I think one of those had a song that went “bhala hai, bura hai, jaisa bhi hai, mera pati mera devta hai” !!! Made me cringe even as a child!


      • Haha SH. That song is from “Mera Pati Sirf Mera Hai”. Jeetu seemed to have a great fondness for love triangles with himself in the centre.

        I watched another one this weekend (for ten minutes) — Souten Ki Beti. πŸ™‚


  34. Thankfully, not in my family, but I have always faced gender bias outside ever since I can remember.
    Being a guy, I was never interested in Cricket and Bikes. And I read a lot of books.
    This opened me to a lot of ridicule throughout my school life and college. Most of the P.T. teachers treated me as an untouchable.
    To my surprise, a few days back, one of my collegues asked me – You don’t know how to drive a bike? Guys like bikes. 😐 . I told him – I belong to a very poor family and my Dad had a bicycle which was stolen when I was 5. And besides, bike is a poor man’s vehicle. It does not have air-conditioner. I drive a car.
    That shut him up. He comes to office on a bike. πŸ™‚
    And a guy reading books is like a sin in this country. I have seen so many disapproving looks that I have lost count.


  35. Everyday there was gender discrimination in my house.. My dad would shout at me for not helping my mother… But why will I listen to him when he never helped my mother? How could he advise me when he never did it? I became a rebel.. If I would ask him the same thing he would shout again at me – how dare I talk like that to elders!


  36. Well there was no gender bias in our home . My brother and I were treated as equals, infact he was expected to look after me and feed me when mom would be late coming home from work (He is 8 yrs older) He helped with the chores, so did I. I got to do everything he did and maybe even more!
    So I was damn lucky that way .. I think my first inkling of gender bias was when people started commenting on my height and commiserating my parents on how difficult it would be to find a groom for me coz I am already tall for my age (and this when I was still 8-9). That used to piss me off !


  37. I actually dont remember where I noticed gender home there was absolutely no differentiation between my brother and I…if I cleaned the table in the morning, he cleaned in the evening, if I washed the washbasin on Monday, he did on Tuesday…if I kept the vessels on the self in the afternoon, he did in the night…Even at college, I was the only girl in my class who did the carpentry and filing in the workshop by myself and no one offered to help as well! The other girls were helped by the teacher..of course my bulky shape may have had something to do with it..

    But honestly, I dont remember where I first noticed a gender bias..infact even in school, there was cross stitch for both boys and girls and there was games period where we all did the same games and excercises!

    I guess, I grew up lucky!

    But again, I must admit here that my grandmom was pretty partial to the boys of the house, but between me and my brother, she wouldnt dare differentiate because my Amma was very strict about us doing the same work always!


  38. As a male, I never had an ‘aha’ moment. It was a gradual realization over the years that something was rotten with the whole system.

    I think one of the great contributing factors to that realization was my closeness to my sister who I was very close to. Star performer that she always was, I idolized her just as much as I was jealous of her.I remember so many moments when I felt she was being shortchanged. At first, I did not really mind that. I suppose I did think that maybe this was just how it was. By the time I was in my teens, though, I’d given up that idea and had begun to see the unfairness for what it was.

    It wasn’t hard to see it. My family wasn’t particularly wealthy until the time of my grandfather, but it is an old family, a family that is patriarchal and chauvinistic to the core.

    I was taught from day one to take pride in the family heritage. It seems weird and anachronistic to me now, but I remember that my mother used to keep telling me that I was to uphold the honor of the family, that I was to behave in keeping with our ‘great traditions’. It was all about honor and good name, and heritage, and a script-written life carefully tailored to protect the wealth and lineage of the clan at the cost of my own happiness. I got sick of it. I got sick of the step-motherly treatment meted out to my own sisters, and the so-called ‘privilege’ of being a male without any control over my own destiny.
    The sexism was never overt. None of the more-food-to-the-males business. No control over dress. Oh no, it was classy sexism, the kind of sexism that does not embarrass you in front of a cosmopolitan crowd. It was like, yes, you can do whatever you want, just as long as you let us take all the big decisions for you. We had the freedom to wear whatever we liked, go wherever we wanted, to socialize as necessary, to study at the best schools, to pursue whatever course we enjoyed but we did NOT have the freedom to choose our own partners, the freedom to live life on our own terms, the freedom to actually make use of our skills as and when we wanted to, the freedom to do things considered to be the opposite sex’s domain.

    My sister rebelled against that life, and I followed suit. My younger sister went along, and lives what I think is a boring, stilted life, little more than a gilded cage.

    There was no particular incident which made me see the sexism. It was my rebellion against my environment that made me see it. It was a little prickling sensation in the back of my mind, and it grew and grew until it became too big not to see clearly.

    That was how it was for me. Unusual, I suppose, but just like that.


  39. When i was born there was major celebration in my dad’s side, First girl in 3 generations, my grandfather had 2 brothers and my dad were 5 brothers so much so their sister is actually my grandmothers sisters daughter who was adopted at birth. all in the quest for a lakshmi ( to subjugate i assume)

    Growing up my grandmom had my back and she is fiercly feminist .. scary feminist. she had to be in a house filled with men and my very vocal grandpa, who was also very fair.

    I think it hit me only when the time came for marriage and i picked my spouse and faced a brick wall of opposition, especially from my aunt who in turn influenced my dad… all water under the bridge but even today in that family there’s a big fuss if the girls pick their soul-mate, not so much the boys …Guess they are scared if they stop the boys they will simply choose their loves and leave…

    Once i left that never affected me. I’m a feminist and my husband is well trained by his mom (now no more) both his parents were drs and she the more successful ( in terms of patients – since she was a gynec) and his dad pretty much raised him and did the office part of the managing a hospital and making her life easy, so for my husband it’s not an issue. he just does what needs to get done. doesn’t brook interfearence from relatives etc., and is very resistant to free advise.
    I do think my paternal family was kept incheck by my grandmother, who was extreamly wealthy… self reliant. she dinned into my head the important of financial independence, free thought andfollowing my heart.

    I can’t for the life of me how her thoughts and ideals skipped a generation and my dad and his brothers are eons backward when it comes to women….


  40. I am also a luker and this topic made me give my thoughts. I remember growing up (5-6 yrs) with the story how happy my dad was hearing he had a daughter, but not granddad. As i am the first baby for that generation, the expectation for all beside my parents and grandmom were to have a boy. I was greatful then. Slowly, i understood how some work is always women’s work, but not men’s.
    Also remember how when i planned to do a professional course along with my graduation how all and sundry relatives told my dad not to waste the money but save it for my marriage. Thats the time, i decided to make sure that i will only get married when i can afford the total expenses.
    Finally it turned out that, not only i spent almost all the money for my wedding, but also bought my parents a apartment to live in after retirement.
    Now i hear people saying behind my back, that i got lucky.


  41. I Have to add,my husband was on a business trip outside india and i accompanied him and one evening we came across a swaminarayan mandir. so i insisted on going in, he claimed it was not for us but i insisted and we went in, I was SHOCKED .. to put it mildly, women stay inthe back and i was actually told not to stand behind the men for arathi and not with my husband Plus some of thier practices were v biased , Even the prasad is given to men first and only then the women..WTH!!! what happened to first come first served..
    I think that was the only temple i walked out of, ashamed to have gone in and couldn’t for the life of me reconcile how 2 humans beings created by the same god blessed by the same god can be treated so differently inthe name of the very same god.
    I did create a mild scene and walked out or rather was whisked out by my husband and i do understand his point – ‘It’s their mandir and they will treat people how they want, you don’t have to participateif it offends youand i knew it would’… just wish i had listened to him, ruined my nice holiday for a few days…
    Will never go into any of those mandir’s again EVER.


      • It’s shocking how biased the Swaminarayan temples are in the US. The one near my house has a Sunday school for kids and there are separate classes for boys and girls. During prayer women and men sit separately. A friend of mine was sitting with her husband during lunch and a member walked up to her table and told her to leave as she could not sit with a man. She was furious and asked him “why are you asking me to leave, why don’t you ask my husband to leave? And why are you objecting to a woman sitting with her husband? Needless to say I dropped the idea of even joining that temple. Funny thing is that I find Indians abroad to be far more traditional and conservative than Indians in India. A lot of them seem to regress when they come here and become uber patriots and overzealous religious fanatics.


        • Yup, I’ve seen that with Indians abroad too. Not all of them, of course, but quite a few. Some of the worst chauvinists I’ve ever met were Indians working/living abroad.


        • The one I encountered was in the Vatican, there is a dress code, I was not supposed to show my arms or knees…and I had worn a sleeveless top and a skirt. My husband too had worn a Tee and Shorts. They let him in, and I was given cloth to wrap around my waist and arms! I had never imagined such a thing happening in Europe.


        • Same thing with the Swaminarayan mandir in my city. With the gender segregation, even baby girls can’t go sit with their dads. After Aarti, girls/women are held back until all the men and boys have gone around the temple.
          The temple itself is beautiful, we try to not go during Aarti, so as to be able to be together. Men/women showing too much skin (?) are offered a shawl or lungi to wear before entry. Also, if their Gurus are visiting, women aren’t allowed in their presence.


      • I am appalled! Growing up in Kerala it was always the reverse!

        Men had to pray outside unless they removed their shirts and wore mundu/dhoti. Women always got to go close to the sanctum sanctorum irrespective of the dress. How my cousin brothers complained!

        But some of the bigger temples imposed dress code for women (skirts and sarees only) but atleast there it was imposed on the men too (only veshti)..


    • Discrimination in temples- What’s with women not being allowed into temples/ sit in pujas if they’re menstruating? Why are they called dirty or apavitra then?
      also: why are there only prayers/ fasts for men?
      karva chauth etc


  42. For me, it was when I shifted to India and attended school. I was in 8th grade and had always had equal male friends as female. But one day, when I was scolded by my teacher for talking to a guy, I realised things were different down here. I continued to be me and have had to face a lot of consequences, including suspension. Though my mom felt that I should adapt with the rules, it was my dad who supported me inspite of how people reacted to me. I’ve had people give me weird stares every time I hug my best friend, when I go for movies with him or when we just talk. In college, it was the same issue. I’ve always wondered why educational institutions were coed if they couldn’t handle this girl-guy thing. I’ve seen people assume that I’m in a relationship with every guy I talk. Though that made me want to puke, I realised that this is how the society is based. I’ve never changed myself and continue to talk and hang out with guys. My best friend is still a guy and now, I’m in a relationship with a guy who matches my broad-minded thinking. We have the right perspective. While I can’t go and change the world about how much of an error gender bias is, I try to never let myself accept that it is ‘normal’. I try to make sure that people around me don’t have that kind of a thinking. It’s hard to not accept and fight it, but it’s so worth it, inspite of all the rude and awful comments you get in the process.

    And sorry IHM for disappearing from commenting for a month. :/


  43. You have initiated a very meaningful debate…..there was no gender bias in my parental home,but after marriage it was a different story…..but if you wait patiently such attitudes too simmer down.


  44. I have encountered gender bias quite a few times when i was in high school.Once my English teacher announced that those who dont answer his questions will be made to stay in a complex position for an hour(i.e. we had to sit down and pass our hands through legs and grab our ears). Since i was a brilliant boy, i answered the questions but my friends were not good enough and they were punished. Now the teacher asked the guilty girls to stand and the guilty boys to stay in the complex position which was really hurtful, one of the boys in a exaggerated rage started cursing the teacher and for once i thought the teacher was wrong.


  45. not in family, I played cricket with my brother and his friends, even football, when cousins came around.! The real gender bias I faced was when I had to select subjects in class 11th and my relatives suggested me that I take science and then go for nursing as most Keralite gals did. Mom strongly protested against it and I followed my dreams.! After masters when I struggled to get through phd these relatives again started nudging me about why being a girl there was any need to struggle for research.! Mom again protested and I got through in sometime.! My parents have been very very supportive, the real gender bias I’ve ever faced in amidst relatives and the social circle of the church.!


  46. I remember hearing a well meaning acquaintance “console” my mother for having a daughter with “Don’t be unhappy, the next one will be a son” and it really annoyed me a lot. I was about three or four. Of course her very sarcastic response to them to stop worrying about her and focus on their lives made me realize that sometimes feminism is genetic.
    Then later I heard a story about her mother, who walked home to her village from a deserted railway station late one night and responded to my grandfather’s “Aap kon dar nahin laga” (Weren’t you afraid) with : Maine socha hi naih ki dar lagna chahiye”( I never thought I was supposed to be scared) and the hypothesis of feminism being inherited was confirmed!


  47. Quite early on – when some relative remarked – Your daughter loves building blocks more than her dolls, isn’t that weird for a girl? I don’t remember the first time that this was said about me or to me. It was really early on!


    • I wish my four-year old daughter loves her building blocks more than her dolls. So far I have not bought her a kitchen set, but some well-meaning relatives have gifted them to her and she owns three kitchen sets now 😦 My consolation is that my son is equally interested in playing with them.


      • I was always a very girly girl! Despite all efforts on my parents’ part to make me go out and play cricket (which my dad loves) or swing from trees etc. They kept pushing Lego towards me, I kept playing dress-up with my Barbie dolls!


  48. Very early in fact. We are three sisters, with little age difference. I remember as a 4 year old kid I saw an elderly relative cursing my baby sister for being a girl. It made me fiercely protective of my sisters.
    Thankfully, our parents brought us up such that there was not a single moment when we doubted ourselves (as girls of course) or were discouraged from doing anything just because we were girls.


  49. I probably first sensed it from the way my father treated my mother. He was loving, caring & all that, but regardless of what he did, how wrong he was, my mother was not supposed to question. One word from her and he would bring the house down. He was (is) extremely biased towards his own family, and that was his way of protecting them, my mother had to be snubbed before she questioned his or their wrong doings. I remember her always crying with my grand mother, and my grandparents always fearing their son-in-law and that really affected me, probably a little too soon in life. I did not like the dominance of men & their families over the women and their families.
    Today, he still cares for my mother a lot, neglects himself and takes good care of her, but when he has to have his way, he will, my mothers words are not important. Other than that, he always broke all conventions, he cooked , cleaned and still manages everything in the house. His dream was to make his daughters earning professionals, for that he left no stone unturned and gave us all the facilities in spite of his financial difficulties. His family wanted my parents to have a third child, a grandson but before they blamed my mother he went to the doctor and made sure he couldn’t have any more children. All in all, I love & admire my father for many things but also hate his chauvinistic attitude when it comes to my mother & her family. He has changed a lot, but I don’t feel it is enough.


  50. I think I was very fortunate, I have a sister and never did i realise that there was a thing as gender bias. I mean, we weren’t stopped from doing anything, on the other hand my parents were very insistent on us learning to ride bicycles, learning karate, playing kabbadi or doing anything we wanted to do. We even learnt kathak and singing.
    The first time I realised there was gender bias was when I was going to go to college and I had to live in my Mom’s brother’s house. I was not allowed to go out alone, I had to be back before it got dark and wasn’t allowed to have sleep overs. I was made to feel like I was somehow incapable of taking care of myself. Gradually the mindset changed, mostly through my perseverance and I know that my girl cousins there are better off for it πŸ™‚


  51. Pingback: An email: “I picked up the hot chimta that I was using to roast chappaties and told him…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  52. I don’t know when I first realized there’s something called gender bias. Both my parents are feminists, and a lot of times their discussions/debates would automatically swerve towards gender bias in society. So I kinda grew up just knowing about it in an academic manner, but never really experienced it myself.

    I guess the first time I saw it in a very close proximity was when I was around seven years old. I had this friend who lived in our neighbourhood and I was (still am) very close to her. She had five sisters and a younger brother. And one day I overheard my parents tsk tsking the fact that they have more children than they can afford to have. Curious, I asked my parents why they have so many children then (6 girls and a boy). And my parents replied that it’s because they wanted a boy so badly that they kept having kids until they finally had a boy. I was confused. I asked them, why did they want a boy so badly? At first, my parents had no idea how to respond (this was just the thing they’d been trying to protect me from for so long. Finally, they replied that some people think boys are better (budhape ka sahara and all).

    Then, I remember asking them, so did you want a boy too?
    My parents were probably shocked at that question. Then my dad sat me down and said, of course not. We wanted you, whoever you turned out to be, we wanted you! And boys are troublesome little things, I should know! I was one!
    And of course I picked up on that point and I would keep running to my parents randomly asking them, so you wanted me? Only me? I was the one you wanted? πŸ˜›

    Even now, whenever I see instances of gender bias, I’m shocked, especially when it comes from within the family. Recently, my cousin got married and I , my grandmother and a couple of my aunts were just sitting around discussing (read: gossiping) about that. And my grandmother said, Well, it’s a conservative household. She’ll have to wear a sari most of the time. And she’ll have to sit apart during her periods. But what can she do? She’s part of their family now. She has to learn to live as they do.

    I could hardly hold in my irritation at the moment.

    Another instance was just a few weeks ago. I was talking to a friend of mine (who is a few years older to me) and I was asking her about her career (which was really not going well at that moment) and what she plans to do about that. She replied, I’m not focusing on that at the moment. I’m focusing on marriage. Time’s running out, I’m 30 and the only guys I can get now are either divorcees or widowers. My parents are getting old now, I should settle down. And anyway, after marriage, I might have move (she is focusing on NRIs), so what is the point of even focusing on my career right now?

    Frankly, I was really tickled at the idea of settling down meaning marriage, especially when it came from her, who I had always thought of as “broad-minded”. I could have expected it from loads of other people I knew, had they said that, I wouldn’t have been surprised, but coming from her…it was, well, just not what I had expected. Seriously, doesn’t it make more sense to prioritize things that give you stability, career being one of them? If I have learnt one thing from my relationships, it is that you can’t guarantee that the person you marry will always stand by you. He/she should, of course, but you can’t guarantee that. The only person you can guarantee to stand by you is you. Which is why, married or not, one should always make sure that their affairs (not romantic affairs! personal and professional affairs) are in order, because you never know what might happen tomorrow. Never hurts to be prepared!

    Of course, when I said this to her, she just said, oh that’s just your age talking, wait till you’re thirty, you won’t think the same way then.

    Anyway, I’m not even talking about the same topic anymore…so I guess I’ll stop! πŸ˜€


  53. Honestly speaking, my age was about 5-6 years,when i first started going to school,in our native place, as there was only one school existed for whole town and all the children irrespective of gender or caste had to attend the class. Boys and girls were made to sit in separate benches,When asked the headmaster, the reason, the immediate reply from him was,because, we were” girls”and we had to sit separately and should not sit with the boys.


  54. I didn’t have patriarchy in my house. My parents accept each other’s view points even in buying the smallest thing of the household. Anything that we wanted, would be discussed by both of them equally and one judgement would come out. It happened to me probably really late, when my parents wanted to get me married off, a guy’s proposal had come to my parents, he was 9 years older than I was and was earning real well. My parents came and asked me about it and i said i was too young for him. my grand mother pitched in n said, “so what, you are just a girl, accept to what ever your parents say. paraya dhan so get her married off to any man who comes your way.” It was a rude shock to both me and my parents. They finally put an end to the arranged marriage stuff and said they’d wait.


  55. Hi IHM,
    De-lurking to comment here for the first time. I have always enjoyed reading your posts but this is one topic that always bothers me in so many different ways.

    I grew up in an educated and broad-minded family. Everyone had a voice (and boy, do we have loud voices!!) and we were all heard all the time. We were all raised with the firm belief that a good education – i.e. professional qualification is a must. Whether we worked or not post marriage was our option, but we all needed to be educated and be able to be financially independent. I must also mention that I have more female cousins than male. On my father’s side we’re a total of 5 girls to1 boy. I have a younger sister and I never ever heard either set of grandparents or my parents say, “I wish you had a son”.

    Like a few people above me, the first time I encountered gender bias was during my marriage preps and post marriage.
    Don’t get me wrong, my in-laws are not bad folks. Infact they’re very very nice.I’ve never lived with my in-laws but if I had, then your earlier post from the happily married DIL could’ve been from me. Whenever they’ve visited us, they’ve been ultra nice. But, if they have a flaw, it would be that they have a very strong preference for male children / grandchildren.

    I still remember, it was about 15 days before my wedding; my FIL and I were having some conversation over the phone, and I remember him telling me : ” Both my daughters are so lucky, they have sons.” That was a WTF moment for me!!! With my pro-female background, I couldn’t understand how having sons would be considered lucky. I was about 26 at that time.

    Fast forward to 2009: I was pregnant with my first child and my in-laws were at our place for a short visit. Hubby was fooling around and asked my in-laws if they had any preference for a grandchild. Pat comes the reply, I’d like for you to have a “BOY”, which set me thinking, “WHY? what’s wrong with my child if it’s a girl and what makes a boy so special to you!!! Much to mine and hubby’s delight, we had a girl. They love her a lot but I’m sure they’d be happier with a male issue.

    In response to your question: Or did you think, β€œBut this is wrong.β€œ?:
    This is the most recent and most bizzare bias I’ve encountered – hubby’s cousin’s wife is pregnant and we recently received an invitation for the “baby shower”. The invitation came from the paternal grandfather-to-be and invited us all to celebrate and bless his son for his baby shower. Not a word about his DIL who is pregnant and is going to have the baby. I found that the most bizzare but hubby assured me that, that was how it was in his community. I was shocked to say the least.

    I could go on but I’ll sign out now. Sorry to take up so much space.


  56. My household was unusual household for a girl growing up in the 80’s. My mother not only worked, but she earned more than my father, and was at office all day long. My father on the other hand worked from home, so he was home from the time we came back from school. My parents also valued their own financial independence and had both joint and individual accounts. My mother was a very successful professional, very independent, traveled extensively – and so most of the housework was done by the two maids and cook. On top of all of this, we were only two daughters, so there was no brother to compare to.

    Despite this background, I was aware of a gender bias from a very early age. In fact, my dad often jokes that I was born a feminist. I think I first noticed it when people became sympathetic because my parents didn’t have any sons – which I thought was very silly because my mother constantly assured us that she never wanted any sons and was perfectly happy with her two daughters, so who were these strangers to feel sorry for us.

    I also noticed at a very young age (maybe around 6-7 years) that even though we had a lot of household help, they were my mother’s responsibility, not my fathers, even though she had a much busier schedule than he did. So anytime my father complained to my mother about the household help were slacking off, I’d reply “So why don’t you supervise them, since you work from home?”. Dad would get very irritated, while Ma would try very hard to suppress her grin.

    My dad would often say if he had a son, he’d have taken him horse-riding or taught him cricket. To be fair to him, it was’t so much a preference for sons – it was about the fun of having both a son and daughter. Like how my aunt, who only has one son, says if she had a daughter she’d have such a nice time shopping with her and dressing her up. But it incensed me no end – and I’d always tell him, “Fine! Take us horse-riding then. Who is stopping you?”

    All my relatives used to say “If you behave like this, your husband will beat you” to which I’d reply “If my husband beats me, I’ll kick him” and then they’d go into peals of laughter and say “You think your husband will kepp quiet?” So I’d say, “If he dares to do anything again, I will complain and get him sent to jail. Don’t you know it’s against the law to beat your wife?”. This was when I wasn’t even 10 years old (also, my father is a lawyer).

    When I was a teenager, relatives would often say “Who will marry you if you don’t know how to cook?” And I would always say “I’ll marry a guy who can cook”. Funnily enough, when I introduced my husband to my relatives, the first question all of them asked him was “Can you cook?”!

    I think the more blatant discrimination I was aware of and protested against from a very young age. But the more subtle forms of discrimination, the unfair expectations,the gender stereotypes – I began to be aware of them only in my late teens. I might have started being a feminist at a very young age, but my feminism has continued to evolve, and I’m always learning in my journey as a feminist.

    I won’t say change, but I have definitely influenced a lot of people. My husband has always been very liberal and broad-minded, but since we got together, he’s become a staunch feminist. My sister and my male cousin are strongly influenced by me, and they actually believe quite strongly in a lot of my own more radical ideas too. My dad, who was fairly liberal anyway for a man of his generation, ihas also increasingly become a mild feminist – especially thngs like “that’s a woman’s job” he no longer believes in. So I’m very proud of that. πŸ™‚

    I also had a lot of relatives tell me that


  57. IHM, sorry for hogging so much space with my extremely long comment. You ask some thought provoking questions – I should do my own posts on some of these instead of writing page long comments!


  58. Married into a family with a boy and a girl, I see a lot of gender bias that I was least aware of. The son, my husband was forced into a profession he was least interested in only because of the the income it guarantees. Daughter was allowed to choose the profession of her choice, making sure it increased her chances of getting a high placed husband. The discrimination I see is something that is taken for granted in our society. The Son has been raised as a provider & care-taker, anything concerning him, his happiness seems to be of very little importance & taken too very lightly. Whereas anything concerning the happiness or welfare of the daughter is talked about like a grave issue that has to be addressed by everyone concerned. For example, the son is saving hard to pay off a loan is seen as no big deal, after all everybody struggles in life, the daughter complains about a loan is talked about like ‘extreme difficulties’ faced by the daughter, and so to be addressed by everyone ( read as the son). The son & me, his wife have to give explanations to take a vacation once in a couple of years, where as the daughter needs a break every 6 months to go wherever she wants even if the cost has to be borne by the son. The parental property has to go the daughter as it is the law, the son of course can make his own property, after all he has been ‘educated’ . I know these may seem trivial, but rarely people care or talk about this kind of discrimination against the male folks in the family. This is why the society needs sons, to meet their physical, emotional , financial needs when old.
    ( I had written a detail about this which was a made into a post by IHM)


  59. I am the only child of my parents and have been treated like a princess! My mom tried really hard to turn me into a tomboy and got pretty dresses too at the same time… πŸ˜›
    My nana-nani had 4 daughters and I was their fav grandkid. I noticed gender bias from my dadi’s side.
    One incident vivid in my head happened when I was 13-14. I lived in Indore that time and used to go for sathya Sai baba’s bal-vikas classes organized by my dad’s childhood friend’s wife Mrs. X and her friend Mrs. Y. Mrs. X had a son my age and my mom says when we were babies she would constantly compare me to her son and ‘nazar lagao’ (apparently I used to always fall ill after coming from their place) and so my mom would barely visit her. Once I reached early and was waiting with them to begin the class. Mrs. Y was telling a story of a muslim family in their neighboring bungalow who had 11 children. Mrs. X asked about the number of boys. when Mrs. Y answered that all were boys, Mrs. X said,” Wow, kitne lucky hai! Gyarah ladke…..” with a sickening smile and glowing eyes at the prospect of that.
    I finished the class, came back home and told my mom this incident. I never went back. I did not want to be ‘vikas’-ed by such hypocrites…..


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