This Dashain, if anyone asks you whether you’ve got a ‘brother’ or not, or if someone gives your parents blessings to get a ‘son’, smile at them and ask, ‘Am I not enough?’
She is born. No no, it isn’t an easy race. The fusion of two X chromosomes in the womb of a mother comes at a cost, a heavy one. When a child is born, one anticipates joy, happiness and all attention to be centered upon the child. But if the child bears female genitals, the happiness is minimized to be instantly maximized by ‘hope’. Hope? The hope of another child – a male child.
It wouldn’t be uncommon to hear, ‘Oh, no worries! You’ll get a boy next time,’ implying that the mother failed in her duty to give birth to the family-name bearer. And as she grows, she is constantly questioned, by the local shopkeeper, by the elderly grandmother she meets for the first time, by her parents’ kindergarten friends, by her neighbors, by her school teachers, by everyone with whom she happens to have a conversation with.
“Do you have any elder brothers or younger brothers?”
What is wrong with this? EVERYTHING. The very fact that the other party is more concerned about the existence of a male child in the family makes her question her worth every single time. While one might argue that it’s a simple question, one needs to understand that a simple question asked by every new person she meets, hints to her that the male child is more important than her. Had the question been more concerned about the number of siblings she has, it wouldn’t have been problematic at all. As she tries to normalize these questions, she unconsciously assimilates and validates patriarchy. She considers herself to be inferior to the boy next door. No one did it on purpose, their questions never had those intentions but the repercussions are detrimental.
In case she doesn’t have any brother, another statement is bound to follow. “Oh, you should tell your parents to get a brother for you!” If she is 12 or 20 years old, people would still tell her to urge her parents to get her a brother. Her age, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the continuance of the family through the male child. Why? Because: SHE. IS. JUST. NOT. ENOUGH. Despite the daughter is a smart, accomplished, self-confident and independent being, the absence of a penis on her body will render her worthless in comparison to a boy. That’s the message that the statement conveys to the girl. That’s the implied essence of the two subtle remarks that you make. Two simple, casual conversational sentences, and you’ve let the girl immerse herself in the wells of self-loathing and self-hatred.
This Dashain, if anyone asks you whether you’ve got a ‘brother’ or not, or if someone gives your parents blessings to get a ‘son’, smile at them and ask, ‘Am I not enough?’ 🙏🏽