What’s wrong in being called a daughter?

I’m one. And I take pride in being one. Just as much as being a mother, a woman, a wife, a person, a daughter-in-law, a sister.

***Rant alert***

There’s a lot of dissenting vibes that I am getting ever since the talk of Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughters started gaining ground. Now whether this film deserves the condemning it has garnered so far is a different matter. I don’t want to comment on something that I haven’t had a chance to watch. And going by the decision to ban it, I may never get a chance, which is something that I find utterly unacceptable.

Why the need to ban? Isn’t it curtailing one’s freedom? Are the deciding bodies exercising a democratic method of governance by putting such bans in force?

As someone who is perfectly capable of deciding what she wants to see and how she wants to perceive what she sees, the least I demand is the freedom to make that choice to watch what I want to and then decide whether I should dismiss the content or feel affected by it. Let me be the judge.

I know for sure that no rapist is ever going to evoke even a fleeting sense of understanding or rationale no matter how much he tries to justify his abhorrent mindset. All such monsters can evoke in me is searing anger and more anger and more. Their actions and their remorseless faces further reiterate how messed up they are in their thinking. How much of a menace they are to our society. So unmasking them and their views through a film can only go on to identify the disturbing mindsets and act as a mirror to other misogynists who hold similar demeaning views on women, so they can be tackled better, right? How is a ban going to help? Will it stop those criminals from harbouring such heinous thoughts in any way?

Anyway the post is not about the ban or the need to ban the ban!

It is about trying to understand another kind of objection taking rounds on the usage of the term ‘daughter’ while referring to the film’s title or the campaign . I frankly think it’s least of the issue to be concerned about. Yes I agree, a woman’s identity is beyond the roles she plays. What I don’t understand is the assumption that the term daughter or beti is being used in the film or the campaign to convey that a woman needs to be saved.  Each of the role a woman plays is integral to the life she leads and she needs to be respected for the role she plays. It doesn’t mean that she is asking to be saved or protected. I’m a daughter. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m a woman. But I can take care of myself. I dont need to be saved or protected. But I demand that I am acknowledged for my presence and not dismissed as non existent in the society!

The fact is that there is a mindset which considers it completely acceptable to suppress a woman, snub her, irrespective of her being a daughter, a mother, a wife or a sister. Unless that reprehensible mindset is tackled appropriately and unless women are treated with more respect, how they are addressed is secondary.

Refer to me as a daughter, a mom, a woman or a person. Anything. I take pride in playing each and every role. But I command some respect for whatever role I have chosen and despite whatever.  Like any woman. I may go out wearing a saree or jeans or sleeveless shirt at stark midnight even. Do I stop being a daughter or a mom?

What about the mindset which throws the diktat at me and my sisterhood that we can’t live the life we do or roles we play on our own terms? If we do then we pay the price for it! Hah! Now THAT is the mindset that has to stop breeding!

Is banning a film or changing the way women are referred to, going to change the mindset that perceives them in a disrespectful manner? I doubt.

Putree-vati Bhava!

This is how I wished a friend a couple of days back when she announced her pregnancy to all of her friends. Now, for one I know how much she is yearning for a daughter, so it didnt take me even a second to type ‘Putree-vati Bhava’ on her wall and wish her so :).

Whenever I hear anyone announcing the birth of their daughter- and this year itself quite a few I know, have been blessed with one already :)- what I feel is an immeasurable amount of joy! Why? Because daughters are a blessing! Arent they? Just as much as our sons. They are as much a gift of God as our sons are. They come into our lives with the same look of want and acceptance in their eyes as our sons. Then..

  • why is it that a daughter, a gift of God, is still not an answer to our prayers, while the birth of a son is celebrated and much yearned for?
  • why is it that every time a daughter is born, she is (un)welcomed into this world with a sense of dejection?
  • why is ‘putra-vati bhava’ still considered the greatest blessing a parent could get?
  • why is it that when a daughter is raped, paraded stark naked on the streets, abused or assaulted, SHE is considered a ‘disgrace’ – someone who brings shame to the society and ‘family honor’- as against her perpetrator?
  • why is it that on one side we worship Goddesses while on the other we stoop as low as killing our daughters even before they are born?

When Namnam was born I remember the dejected remarks and looks of people that I had to counter- from the elderly to my prejudiced peers alike- because I had given birth to a girl child . I had had them come to me with a ‘consolatory’ blessing for a son next time around. Why, I have even had beggars come to me and wish me that I’d have a son if I gave them money.

I mean why? Why cant we get over this obsession for sons? Why cant we welcome our daughters with open arms just as well? Why cant we celebrate our daughters just as we celebrate our sons?

Isnt it time that we changed our prejudiced mindset? Let us give our daughters a chance to live and thrive in this world too.

Let this year be the year of daughters. Let them come into this world and grace us all, just as much as our sons. This year and the coming years. So to all those expectant parents out there…a wish coming from a blessed mother of a daughter- putree-vati bhava!