My girls are my sons, as some seemingly well-meaning people tell me. But their commiserative tone never ceases to amuse me. They are my daughters. Why, on earth, would I want to believe that they are my sons? Oh, I get it, because then I can tell myself that girls nowadays are as good as boys and thus, feel better about having them.
This is exactly the kind of regressive logic I want to keep away from my daughters. Here are some others:
When you are menstruating, you can't pray
I've never understood this one. It may have its roots in some archaic logic (and hygiene) that was possibly true eons ago, but my simple point is-if god made woman then he or she could not have a problem with menstruation, otherwise he would not have had it that way. He made it, so he really must be fine with it.
Also, there is nothing a woman cannot do if she's got her period. In fact, it's medically advised that women should carry on their daily activities even when they are menstruating. I pray, go to the gym, eat what I want and don't wash my hair (if I don't want to) when I get my period. So far it seems to have had no negative impact on my life.
Women must be good at cooking
While it is important to know how to cook, because you never know when you'll need that skill, it's not that women absolutely must be taught to cook because they are nurturers and therefore must conform to that image. The irony is that when one says the word "chef" you think of a man, but when it comes to the home, the cook is expected to be a woman. So while it's okay for men to cook for a living, it's not okay for them to cook for their family.
In today's world, if women work outside the home then the work inside the home must be shared equally. Cooking is good to know-whether you are a man or a woman.
Marriage is the be-all of life. A woman is "incomplete" without a child
When my children talk of the future, I encourage them to imagine what they will become, not who they will marry. While it is important to have marriage and companionship, the former does not guarantee the latter. They must not marry for the sake of it. Like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said-women must choose a partner wisely.
Also, I want them to know that life can be fulfilling in many different ways. Having a child is one of them, but certainly not the be-all of womanhood.
A woman cannot do a man's job
Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that could be called a 'man's job' today. If there is something on that list, it's probably more a reflection on the state of our society (like not being able to drive late at night) rather than on the abilities of a woman. I am bringing up my daughters to believe that they must not assign gender to a profession, even though the society around them might.
Fair is beautiful
The need to be fair is so deep-rooted in our society that it'll take a few generations to correct this one. Sure there are signs that things are changing and "dusky" actresses are also making it big in Bollywood. But how much of this has changed on the ground level is apparent when you open the matrimonial section in the paper. Not much, it seems. People still want fair girls for handsome boys. Also, fairness creams are still touted as the magic tube that'll reverse fortunes and help you reach for those formerly elusive stars.
In our house there is never any talk of complexion, only of achievement. In my view there is no need to glorify dark skin either-how someone looks is a non-issue. Sometimes we, as parents, try and overcorrect, and that unnecessarily draws attention to the issue. Why talk about skin tone at all? It does not matter how someone looks.
My girls play with cars as much as they play with cooking sets. As far as I can, I will keep their minds free of gender stereotypes that have no place in today's world.