Identity, Life

Our Desi traditions shame women for speaking up. But I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore.

If you're growing up Desi, no matter who you are - your opinions are shamed in front of elders.

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At times being a young woman feels like being stuck in limbo; you’re too old to hang out with the little kids at dinners and too young to sit with the adults. I usually choose the former because I cannot deal with a lot of the conversation that Desi adults indulge in pre- and post-dinner.

Usually, if I sit through their discussion I will hear a misogynistic remark casually made and dissent bubbles into my throat but somehow can never escape my lips.

But why do I stay quiet?

For someone who is incredibly vocal on women’s issues and a hardcore feminist, why can I not disagree with misogynistic statements that adults in my family try to peddle as facts?

Why do I shy away from defending my gender as it is degraded right in front of me?

Desi women are discouraged to argue their point of view since it is improper. Click To Tweet

Because the dissent was beaten out of me. Not literally, thank God. But young Desi men and women are always told that opposing or arguing with an adult is a cardinal sin. It is disrespectful to ever tell an adult that they are wrong and their opinions are problematic.

But I am tired of letting misogynistic comments slide.

Why do I have to keep my mouth shut and let hurtful opinions slide just because I don’t want to be labeled as the ‘batameez larki’ (rude girl)?

How can I talk about bringing about change in society, when I can’t even do so in my family? I decided I had to be brave and voice my opinions and call out misogyny when I encountered it. If I couldn’t try and change the way my family thought, how could I talk about attempting to changing society at large?

Not saying anything made me a hypocrite.

The label of being a 'batameez larki' is used as a fear tactic. Click To Tweet

Labeling women as a batameez larki in the Desi culture is probably the worst nightmare for the parents of any young girl. Because, apparently, rude girls with unwanted opinions who oppose elders do not get married, and if they do end up getting married, their marriages never last.

I never questioned that.

As a child, I had to internalize these misogynistic ideas that I was fed by society. But when I started questioning why the rude girl in our culture was so rare and so despised I quickly realized it was because women are not supposed to have voices.

I remember lectures from adults in the family about how my female cousins and I should start learning how to serve guests like proper young ladies to show them our good breeding. One of us quipped up with how we didn’t intend to be maids for our husband or in-laws after marriage and therefore there was no point in showing them how well we can pour tea.

This remark did not go down well.

It resulted in a serious talk and a clear contempt towards us for questioning an adult and for not submitting quietly to the offensive practices labeled as tradition.

The patriarchy works to ensure Desi women only obey orders. Click To Tweet

I imagine rude girls don’t have successful marriages because they know when to speak up when they are being wronged, or when they realize that they’re the only ones compromising in the marriage and want a better, more equal relationship.

Desi women are brainwashed from their birth that women have to compromise and that they need to save their marriage at any cost. They must put up with any abuse and unfair treatment that comes their way because that is how to save a marriage.

Nothing is worse than a divorced Desi woman.

The entire patriarchal system is built to bury the voice of the woman. Labels such as  ‘batameez larki’ are used as ways to push women into submission, to make sure they do not speak up for their rights, and become docile, passive humans who only listen to the male patriarchs in their home.

It's time we celebrate being labeled batameez. Click To Tweet

But no longer will I sit in a corner and listen to disrespectful comments anymore. It is time that we speak up. The fear of being called a batameez larki does not scare me anymore. Labels are just labels and do not define who I am.

I no longer care about showing my proper breeding or remaining docile.

I am a woman who is ready to challenge these heinous traditions, join me.

Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Media Studies at Forman Christian College. Her likes include: reading, writing (surprise!), food and felines. She dislikes: the patriarchy. Always up for learning new things and seeing new perspectives. She tweets @Rameezay

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