Being bombarded with all kinds of videos is the vice of being too active on social media. One video stayed with me for long. A woman is seen screaming at everyone in a Delhi police station. She’s allegedly drunk and her car has rammed into a bike irking her. She wants the bikers in front of her so that she can ‘teach them a lesson’. Things start to get ugly. And then she utters those horrific sentences: ‘Do you know who I am, who my father is’. It’s unclear who’s making the video and if the girl is right in what she’s demanding.
The video reeks of one word: spoilt. I am not here to judge her actions. I, too, have screamed at people who seemed unfair to me. I am not against bringing her culprits to book. A nagging thought lingers on: surging number of aggressive women. Remember the case of sisters with an alleged ‘habit of beating up men’? I do remember for I was trolled on twitter for supporting them…for days. My fear? What if we are raising our daughters like our sons? What it we are doing what we did to our sons decades ago?
I know that I am inviting fresh barrage of trolls and mockery. I can sense words like anti-female, regressive, and even ‘saffron’ hurled at me. But hear me out before you judge me.
I am a mother of a seven-month-old baby girl. When I gave birth to my daughter, I was subconsciously ready for a mild backlash of some sort. ‘Don’t worry. You can try for a boy next year.’ ‘Only child? She will need a brother to protect her after all.’ And similar rants. I was in for a surprise. Instead, I have been hearing this: ‘Your future is secure. Daughters always take care of their parents.’ ‘You should make her an astronaut.’ One well-meaning friend even suggested getting her trained to get into IIT and IIM for her. Never mind the tender age. I, of course, felt relieved.
Being mother also makes me eavesdrop trying to get into fellow mommy’s heads. Well, you don’t need to be much of an eavesdropper in India to know what people think. Information is free flowing.
“We don’t discriminate between boys and girls.” Couples with daughters are going an extra mile to ensure their child has everything they want (sometimes more than they need or deserve). There’s a mad rush to prove a point. My problem isn’t with this thought. It’s noble. My trepidation? Giving them freedom without a sense of responsibility. Giving them choices without making them accountable. Are we raising an entire generation of spoilt, foul-mouth, irresponsible women whose rage knows no boundary. Are we overcompensating our girls for fear of being called a hypocrite? Are we repeating our mistake with our girls, doing what we did to our boys?
My neighbor has two daughters. The seven-year-old doesn’t like her grandmom talking about her ‘secrets’ to others. Typical child behavior, we say. But the way she speaks her mind is frightening. She mistreats her grandmom, thinks she doesn’t know a thing and that the old lady should keep her mouth shut. A distant relative’s daughter’s behavior is inviting undue suggestions from random people about ‘disciplining children’. A former colleague has gifted her six-year-old an iPad so that she can ‘play games in peace’. A friend’s daughter has the liberty to hit her mother for not giving in to her demands. Disturbing. Confusing. Scary.
I am not from a school of thought that believes in containing women. I am the first journalist in my family, thanks to my parents who stood by me. I enjoy my freedom with accountability intact. It took us several generations to get closer to where we are as Indian women. Our grandmothers, mothers and fathers have braved negativity and opposition to get us freedom. If we don’t tell our daughters the true meaning of freedom and let them turn into rowdy females, we’re going to be at loss as a society. A strong personality with a little sensitivity doesn’t hurt, does it?
So, what’s the best way of putting across a child that she can have it all if she practices self-assessment? By being a good friend? Or by being a supportive parent. I am frantically looking for answers. I need to get to a solution before my daughter misbehaves and feels that she can get away with it. Till then, we need to undo what we have done. One boy at a time.
By Nidhi Raj Singh
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