How to be a good Indian woman

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How to be a good Indian woman

By Yamuna Matheswaran


Nilanjana Roy under a Creative Commons Licence

Yamuna Matheswaran listens to what people in her country are saying about women’s place in society.

Hello, Indian woman - you say you are modern. But are you strong enough against the beast of Indian society? The beast is there to take away your freedom and to make sure that your place is in the family.

Why did society force you to take this role? You don’t like it, you have no use for it; you don’t want it.

But, dear modern Indian woman, you grew up speaking your language, you might have an education, you might read and learn and think, you might travel around the world. But you must understand that you are only one thing: an Indian woman.

History and Science and Philosophy are very interesting. But in real life you must be practical and follow all the ideas passed on to you for generations in Indian society. You might disagree with these ideas but you must not question them.

We love you, but you are quite a problem for us from the day you are born. And when you are older, we must save you from the lustful eyes of the beasts around you, from sexual danger. To do this we stop you from going out of the house and we take away your freedom. You must not go out alone because someone might attack and rape you.

But what about the attackers, you ask? Well, what do you expect from them? As one wise politician said, ‘Boys will be boys.’ Do you see now that it is your fault if you are raped because you must be stupid?

Don’t be too friendly with your male friends because you might forget yourself and allow a man to seduce you. What will people say? People will talk! The family might lose its honour.

And what’s all this about female sexuality? What are you talking about?! Female sexuality does not exist. Well, not before marriage. But do you really want to throw everything away with all your crazy ‘Western’ ideas such as ‘being modern’ and ‘being an individual’? These ideas have no place in our society.

But do you listen? No. Now you want to criticize the society that people say you belong to. This is the society that has accepted you and made you into the woman that you are.

Yes, I know it is also the society in which men stared at you, whistle at you, try to touch you, and say bad things to you as you walk down the street, even in the day time. And yes, this is the society that blames you if you are raped.

And now you blame me. And you say I probably please myself with pictures of the naked bodies of the same ‘bad’ women that I criticise. And you say that in Indian society you can see sexual repression very clearly and all its effects.

Why must you complain so much about these unimportant things? Why do you make such a noise? And, dear modern Indian woman, we can only talk about inequality between men and women if we think that men and women are equal in every way. And that is a crazy idea!

Yamuna Matheswaran is a 26-year-old student of Economics at Goethe University, Frankfurt. After growing up in India, she studied for a Master’s in International Relations at the University of Denver, and volunteering work for 15 months in Israel/Palestine.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).