Navigating Feminist Discourse With Conservative Parents: Feminism In A Sexist Household


Navigating Feminist Discourse With Conservative Parents: Feminism In A Sexist Household


If you're not used to conflicts, are you even a teenager in an Indian home? tumultuous, furious, and loud. These arguments sometimes result in slammed doors, leftover dinners, and days without communication in addition to hot words. The teenager is a "feminist," so when you put all of this together, tragedy is guaranteed.

I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been called a "rebel," a "liberal," or a "feminist" during gatherings and family dinners, as if these were all things to abhor. As if I'm the kind of adolescent that parents ought to keep their kids as far away from as possible. My own home can occasionally be quite a mess.

I have access to a wide variety of resources as a 19-year-old pursuing a degree in psychology and sociology, allowing me to read about the feminist discourse and historical oppression against my gender. In class, we read and talk about Judith Butler's writings and "doing gender." We look at Nivedita Menon's theories and how gender roles are enforced in Indian families.

I am fortunate to have access to the journals, books, and theories that have influenced modern feminism. Although, in their eyes, my parents weren't as privileged to have these options.

As a result, my parents look down on me when I say that I want to go for a stroll at 10 PM while listening to my favourite music. Instead of answering the issue "Why are my cisgender male friends able to do so without any thought, censure, or explanation," it creates questions like "Why would you even want to go out at that time?" How can I convey to kids that our society's hierarchies are set up to always favour men?

A lot of social rules for the 'protection of women' in the nation appear to be based on moral policing of all kinds, which is likely also how the question of going out is dealt with. Imagine the sexist validation that is fostered when a politician or state minister disparages a woman for choosing to wear jeans. When a state like Lucknow introduces AI-enabled facial cameras to monitor women, the same troubling idea is reinforced.

Therefore, it is not surprising that our attitudes of marriage, sexual relations, and family duties continue to be strongly gendered. I want freedom, agency, and equality in these decisions because I'm a feminist. These ideas, however, are daunting and unnecessary for the traditional family that I come from.

When I see another Whatsapp forward from my father disparaging my mother's cooking, attractiveness, etc., I start to protest vehemently. The stereotype of the "nagging, inquiring, and irritable wife/girlfriend" has sadly been promoted and normalised by movies like "Pyaar ka Punchnama" and "Sonu Ke Titu ki Sweety," it goes without saying. When questioned about it, his answers place the blame on me and advise me to stop being so sensitive and view things more "humorously."

If I ever had children, one of the first things I might teach them as a feminist would be to respect their partners and never speak negatively about them.

When parents' attitudes and beliefs are so firmly ingrained and bound up with faulty evolutionary and theological claims, it is challenging to persuade them. For example, some continue to think that it is improper to enter temples when menstruating since religion forbids it. They continue to hold the view that men and women are fundamentally different, possess various innate and primitive needs and traits, and are more inclined to specific types of social circumstances.

We all look to various socialisation factors from the minute we are born for social cues that support our behaviour and views. Parents and other members of our family are without a doubt the most important agents of the same. We more or less have a tendency to notice and respond to situations in the same manner that we have been observing them until we are past puberty. As a result, possibly unintentionally, our parents also instil the same ideals in us as they did as children.

They are also eager to use historical instances to contrast the relative freedom that women today have with the way things were in their time.

My mother has told me stories of her father slapping her for coming home beyond 9 o'clock in the evening. My grandmother was allegedly beaten and then married off at the age of 22 if she was caught talking to a boy. Women before us grew up in a culture where emancipation of women wasn't viewed as a liberating event, but rather as a pointless exercise that would cause men to lose their positions of dominance in society, the economy, and history. Their control over women was directly threatened by feminism.

Even though I still have to fight every day to be seen as an equal person despite gender discrimination, being aware of my parents' background and taking into account their upbringing and social surroundings has given me stronger coping mechanisms.

Even though the future still seems uncertain, there is still possibility for improvement given how these discussions are already changing. Instead of having disputes with my parents, I prefer to have dialogues where I can freely voice my opinions. Even while change is necessary, it won't happen immediately.

These challenging discussions with our parents must take place. When navigating feminist discourse at home, we need to give space to LGBTGIA+ identities in addition as heterosexual ones. Parents are crucial to the future of feminism because it must be inclusive. Therefore, it is vital that we continue having conversations about people who identify in a variety of intersectional ways in order to normalise personal agency outside of patriarchal dichotomies.

If our generation becomes parents, doing so promises a better present as well as a better future. The world really needs more feminist couples raising feminist children!


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