The whole purpose of this article is for me to share my story and hope that the people around me would be able to understand why unsolicited advice from random “aunties” are really pointless. Also, this is an article dedicated to Indian women; it does not mean that this has never happened to women of other ethnicities. Now that that is out of the way, let’s jump into the article!
Ever since I was a little girl, I was always told what to do. But the question is, did I oblige? Answer is yes and no. There were times when I felt so grateful when someone pointed things out to me and told me what to do as mentally, I was not doing very well. Then, there were also times when I would get unsolicited advice from random people, telling me how to live my life. So, here’s the thing. You can never totally avoid it, but you can sort of deal with it.
Until I had a mind of my own, I would listen and let other people’s opinions affect my life. Once I started claiming my own power, I made my own decisions, even when times were difficult. Needless to say, now, being 100% financially independent, I am more empowered than ever. I can proudly say that, I still do hear people talking about my life choices behind my back but they do not have the guts to come up to me. Like the majority of the society, they speak about it when I am not around to comfort their regressive mind.
For aeons, Indian women have internalised the damage of misogyny that they were raised with. This has gone to an extent whereby they feel that, no matter what decision they make, they will have to ask their parents or any authoritative figures in their lives for permission. This is the direct result of being told that, “no matter how educated you are, don’t forget that you are an Indian woman! You need to respect the culture and your elders!”
What does this even mean? Does this mean that I should limit myself even more because of my ethnicity? Does this mean that I need to not progress with the society to maintain the “kudumba kuthu vilakku” image? To be honest, when I first heard this, I was lost. I had to ask my father, sorry but what do you mean? I was genuinely lost because I had worked on my mind without this idea that I need to limit myself due to my “culture”.
Why are Indian women so used to hearing people telling them how to live their lives? Is this because of the space we give them or is it that some people just have really thick skin? I have heard of many Indian women who constantly complain about how their relatives don’t understand what a progressive mindset should be. Question is, why do you seek their validation or the need for them to understand your way of life?
For example, it would be nice to invite one of your aunties to come to a brunch hosted by you and your partner on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, cause when in doubt, you brunch! It would also be nice for them to understand the importance of living together before getting married. BUT, that isn’t the reality for many Indian women. The reality is that they lie to their own family about where they live, and with whom, because they cannot deal with the alternative.
“ WHAT WOULD PEOPLE THINK?”
“ HOW CAN YOU BRING DISGRACE TO YOUR FAMILY NAME?”
“ WHO WILL MARRY YOU IF YOU DON’T END UP WITH THIS GUY?”
These may just be questions, but they say a lot. They insinuate that a well behaved Indian woman would never do such things and her worth is determined by the presence of a “life partner”, when really his perception of her is just about baby making. Because what is a woman’s worth if she does not have babies!
If you have your own way of life, own up to it! This would take a lot of courage and empowerment but it builds your character. If you want to have sex before marriage, then go for it. Stand your grounds on what you believe in. Now, I understand that it can be disheartening if your parents do not agree with you. After-all, though we are all grown ups, as children, we did want our parents to support us in what we do. However, you need to be realistic about the blurred lines here.
It is either, you change your way of thinking and life to make sure you are making the right choices in their eyes, or make your own decisions and choices and stand by it no matter what. The choices you make lie in your hands. This will help with accountability and making sure that you live your life to the fullest.
There is a guideline that I follow, which is that, never bring pain and hurt to another person’s life with your choices. Physical pain I mean! Emotionally, if they cannot fathom your decision, then there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes, some nonchalance is good for you.
I do admit that, this might not be for everyone as I acknowledge my privileges. I was blessed enough to have a tertiary education and that has empowered me in ways I cannot describe. But, all I am asking for is, to step out of your comfort zone today and empower yourself by making a decision for yourself and by yourself. It could be the smallest thing like clothing, food or even a movie! Today, it is a small step, but ultimately, you are subconsciously empowering yourself. Try it. Trust me, it’s addictive!
To answer the main question, I think why Indian women are always told what to do is because the people who are telling them lack empowerment to live their own lives. They find their sense of fulfilment through managing the lives of others. If you are an “auntie” reading this article, I urge you to acknowledge this behaviour and start reflecting on your life choices. Is someone telling you what to do? Look closer! Set an example for the upcoming generation by being an empowered woman! Remember,
“ Empowered women empower people”