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I spent almost 15 years of my life studying in an all-girls’ school. Many of my classmates were either the only girl child to their parents or one of two daughters. The lack of a brother or any other male figure except their fathers didn’t seem to affect their lives, in any way. I mean, their parents too had lofty dreams for them, they too were provided with every kind of material and moral support they could’ve asked for and they too were loved and cared for, immensely and unconditionally. Just like you and I.
But, as we stepped into our teens and marched towards adulthood, things started to change. While I asked my younger brother to pick me up and drop me off everywhere, these women took the wheel, learnt how to drive and took themselves everywhere. While I demanded of my parents to take care of me, they would go out and make sure their families didn’t lack anything. While I was confused about what I wanted to do in life and had the option to pursue something I liked, their life courses were charted around certain stable professions that would ensure slow and steady progress.
While I was only learning how to deal with men, they were learning how to become like them.
While I didn’t want to marry because I was too afraid of losing my independence to this institution, they didn’t want to marry because they were too afraid of losing their parent’s dependence on them through this institution by marrying into another family.
When I look at them – supporting their parents and building independent lives while boldly challenging the set norms of our society, I feel proud. They’re doing what I didn’t do simply because I didn’t have to. They’re taking up roles that I didn’t take, simply because there was someone else to do it for me. They are making an example of their own lives – lives that are flourishing without the protective male gaze to instruct them.
A man will always and only be responsible for his parents as their son, while a woman in her role as a wife, a mother, a daughter-in-law and a daughter will look after both her husband’s family and the one she was born into. So the next time you feel proud of any woman, don’t try to flatter her by calling her the ‘son of the house’, because honestly, she’s being so much more by simply being the daughter her parents didn’t give up on.
Lily Singh’s guide to conquering life, How To Be A Bawse (Rs. 510) - is all you need to make your mark in the world. Give it a read.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Rs. 300) talks about the challenges that women face in their personal and professional lives and how she can overcome them.