Why should boys get more attention ?
The Indian society, unfortunately, is a lot about hypocrisy and irony. While it is held as the land where many Goddesses are worshipped as the emblem of power, it is in this very nation where girls are made to feel weak and inferior. Patriarchy is the order of the day, and daughters are often looked upon as nothing but burdens.
We have progressed in leaps and bounds, in almost every possible way that one can think of. Strangely, even when it comes to gender discrimination, we strongly assert that we have come out of the hackneyed notions and treat our girls at par with the boys. But let’s pause for a moment and delve deeper into our conscience, aren’t we deceiving ourselves?? Leave alone the lower income groups and those below the poverty line, even the middle-class and the elite classes do not treat their sons and daughters equally in every way, as observed in most cases. In fact, in a way, many Indian girls belonging to the so-called higher-rung of the society, going to top-notch universities in luxury cars while texting on their i-pads and i-phones are also discriminated against.
Right from her childhood through her teenage, to when she attains adulthood, she is constantly reminded, directly or indirectly, that she is a ‘girl’, and she is meant to abide by a certain code of conduct. Any breach of the laid-down norms of ‘decency’ or ‘decorum’ will lead her to be branded as a spoilt girl, & thereafter she will be held responsible for bringing shame and humiliation upon the entire family. However much might a father/mother deny, most Indian parents end up being more ‘protective’ towards their daughters and more ‘permissive’ towards their sons. And every time she is treated differently, it sends out a message to her that she needs to depend on somebody else for her protection, her well-being. Though it is undeniable that there are safety issues that will dictate some decisions against our girls, but parents at times make the mistake of communicating through wrong means, the flawed concept of gender stereotypes.
Be it the decision to permit sons to study or work in another city at an earlier age than daughters, thus providing the former with earlier independence, or encouraging girls to focus more on housework, such gestures send out the message that a woman’s domain is her home, while men will go out, earn and have an independent life. Such acts, such as parents being more encouraging to their sons about participation in competitions and sports, or the sons getting an earlier permission to use the family car, cumulatively amount to the same outcome: girls feeling left-out. Or even the expectation that boys will be better than girls in mathematics or viewing your daughter not as a successful entrepreneur/software designer/academician but rather as a wife and a mother, all contribute to influencing her mindset and self-belief. More often than not, she has to plead, argue, beg and convince her parents for an evening movie show, while her brother easily gets the permission; even if she is allowed to party at her friend’s place, someone will come to pick her up, or a car will drop her home. It is in such small ways that she is made to feel different, and hardly in a positive way. One study indicates that parents have differential expectation of sons and daughters as early as 24 hours after their birth!
While they bring up their sons to be more achievement-oriented, she is taught to be more family-oriented. He is brought up to be emotionally controlled, aggressive, self-reliant, while she is trained to be “homely”, adjustable, abiding and guarded, so that she adheres to the image of a quintessential “good” girl. Such implied instructions are further reinforced by peers, school experience, & of course, the media. Most of her life decisions are usually taken by others, & she is not given a choice. Rather, she is made to feel privileged for the many pleasures and comforts of life that are being bestowed on her.
Thus, rather than pointing a finger at the society at large, we should understand that WE form the society and it is more important to assess and rectify ourselves so as to cleanse the society of its malady. If we do not encourage/practice gender discrimination at our own homes, tomorrow our daughters would not have to face it in her educational institution or her workplace or anywhere else, for that matter.