So far, I’ve been sitting at my computer, staring at my screen for about an hour. I’ve started three different blog posts on different topics which I do feel passionate about, but I can’t find the words to express my feelings. So instead, I’m going to tell a story about why I have such strong feelings about this issue.
Last summer, I went on a trip to India with my family and family friends. We went the typical tourist route at first, commonly dubbed the “Golden Triangle,” which included the cities of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, and then went to visit my family in Pune. Even though I enjoyed getting to sight see and learn more about the country that I came from, in all honesty, I was glad to come home a few weeks later. Don’t get me wrong – I love seeing my grandparents and extended family and eating spicy Indian food every day. But the entirety of the trip, I was constantly being watched by someone, whether it was one of my parents or one of my friend’s parents. Why would such a responsible and independent girl like me need to be watched every waking minute, you may ask? The answer is simple: because I’m a girl. Though India has make significant strides when it comes to technology, politics, and education, the country’s views on social issues like gender equality or gay rights is still painfully narrow minded. As a whole, the country treats their women terribly, and the women don’t have the power to do anything about it. There are a lot of unwritten rules put in place for females – it isn’t socially acceptable for women to smoke or drink, girls to wear shorts above their knees, or for women to drive when there is a man present. Women who don’t cook are considered a disgrace to their family. To make matters worse, because of how heavily oppressed women are in this country, it gives men almost free reign to be as creepy as they want. Because of this, the entire time I was in India, I was forced to wear full length clothes in the sweltering 110 degree Indian summer and was watched like a hawk at all times. It didn’t help that my brother and friend Archis were allowed to do or wear whatever they wanted, simply because they were guys. I will never forget how angry I felt when Archis and my brother got to walk around in their comfortable shorts and t-shirts while I sweated buckets in my full length salwaar kameez or how they were allowed to go off and explore the hotel as they pleased, while I had to have someone with me. Walking down the street, I had to walk behind someone, because if I walked ahead of the crowd, it would give creepy men on the street an opportunity to stare at me more than they already did. The reason this gender imbalance is so extreme in this country is because emphasis is placed on punishing and oppressing girls rather than teaching boys how to respect them.
I hope that 516 word rant was enough to explain why I feel so strongly about this issue. To put it simply: I’ve experienced this kind of discrimination plenty of times in my life and whenever I try to bring it up in conversation with someone who isn’t a teenage girl, my thoughts are immediately dismissed or ignored. That’s why I figure, what better way to get people to listen to you than to make them read a blog post about your feelings?