Sexism has a far reaching impact on behavioral aspects – like a woman is expected to be demure, men are supposed to be protective and chivalrous, the male privilege, the patriarchal society, the career oriented people being men and so on. And India is no less in enforcing these. This thinking unfortunately extends to a lot of Indians who live outside of India but were originally raised here. So I have started doubting if education actually has any impact. For example, I have heard from few Indian straight guy friends of mine complain about the fact that their womenfolk just would not want to return back to India. And they just presume that the family should go back to India and live with his parents. Is it because of the male privilege, Indian straight men do not see the complications that involve in staying close to in-laws? This is even worse if the woman is independent, progressive and career-oriented, isn’t it? Whatever said and done, however big a city one may live in India, I would imagine its a very tough fight for an Indian woman who wants to be a little independent – in thinking and/or actions.
But let me talk about few other things here – something that a lot of people do not think about. Do you get annoyed in India when every sentence ends with a Sir or a Ma’am? I mean every god damn sentence. Not to make things up, I even cringe at times. May be this would not have been so pronounced had I lived here all the while but my American casualness in addressing people with first names has probably spoilt this part of the desiness in me. As my dad says, I have just become disrespectful as other Americans. Whatever that means, my dad providing yet an other topic that we could mutually agree to disagree.
Being a transwoman, I have always hated being mis-gendered. The intensity of the yuckiness is even greater nowadays. Looking androgynous means, I am sir-ed or ma’am-ed and sometimes the pronouns switch in the middle of a sentence and oscillates between. I am just too tired of telling people to call me by my first name. And no body listens. I have been wondering if this is just a sad and bad vestige of our colonial past though – I mean the addressing part? Not having traveled much outside of India and US means I don’t know how it is at other places.
Coming to the gender binary enforcement – At the airport recently, I was asked straight ahead by a security guard if I was male or female. I was very much tempted to say something rude but the smart part of my brain played its part – I just shrugged without saying anything. I ended up on my preferred side for screening. As a person who sees the diversity in every form, I find it hurtful that the common man wants to simplify the complexities of gender. The personnel was just following the protocol their babu of a boss wanted them to do, which essentially pores down from the government. It annoys me, hurts me and pisses me. If I were not trans, I would have been oblivious to this whole binary thing, because to me then it is obvious and natural, right? What other ways should I classify then?; the same way, straight people think it is obvious every person in this planet sleeps only with the opposite sex and makes babies.
A funny observation:
In the hotel I was put in, I came across a pamphlet where they mentioned about a floor reserved for women. It read something like “We have a floor reserved for women with a female security personnel”. Interesting, Isn’t it? That made me wonder what kind of clientele they have in the first place that warranted additional security. Then reading further ” In these rooms, keeping women in mind, we have nail polish, remover, cotton balls, nail flier, ….”. Is this to say that men should not and will not groom themselves? Isn’t this an objectification of women? Or am I just ranting?