Recipe for Sexism: Centuries of Patriarchy and Oppression

“Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex” - Oxford Dictionary

Let’s breakdown sexism together…


Aman Grewal brilliantly summarised this from the perspective of a South Asian woman in her blog ‘Recipe for Sexism in South Asian Families’.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup-patriarchy.

  • 1/2 cup-Indian society.

  • Years and Years of double standards.

  • 2 tablespoons- oppressed mother who won’t stand up for you.

  • 1 1/2 cups-brother who has it easier than you.

Bake for years and years and now you’ll have sexism in South Asian families. (WARNING: Could lead to many depressed South Asian women. Consume at your own risk)


This is the sad reality for South Asian women - centuries of patriarchy and oppression has lead women to live a very different life to their brothers. It's 2021, and how a woman should act and is treated compared to a man is still yet to change.


Two out of five women managers think their workplace is sexist according to a very detailed article in The Independent dated 20th June 2019. A sexist remark or inappropriate touching is unacceptable but it is often not reported or sanctioned so unfortunately, it is still a problem for men and women today.



Here’s a few young British Asians who delve into their views on sexism and how we as a society can educate ourselves to be more open-minded and considerate.


Chandni Sembhi is an incredible young British Asian journalist who shines a light on global issues. She currently creates outstanding social media content for Channel 5 shows as well as having interviewed musicians and written several reviews on albums in popular magazines such as Kerrang Magazine.


"Something as simple as questioning someone else’s sexist comment or opinion can make a big change."


“Young British Asian men can always start small and call out sexism when they see it or maybe ask the women in their life how they think they could help. Something as simple as questioning someone else’s sexist comment or opinion can make a big change. I think it’s most damaging when it comes to stereotypical rules of men and women. Men may feel that they can’t be emotional and women may feel oppressed. Often this cycle continues and is passed down to their children. The best thing to do in my opinion is to approach the woman directly and see if she’s taking action and let her know that you’ll support her whatever her choice because at the end of the day it is ultimately her choice, not yours”.


Omar Mehtab is a guy with brilliant comic timing who is currently a Broadcast Assistant at BBC Click which has an audience of over 330 million viewers. He has produced great social media content for BBC Click and reported on topics linked to technology and social media influencers in modern society.


"No one should have to go through that and no one should turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace."


"A Young British Asian man would embrace his feminine side by going out of his comfort zone. Having female friends without any romantic inclinations or agendas. Trying new things that your mates wouldn't necessarily do or deem as "male" activities, such as getting beauty treatments or dancing. Expressing your emotions, when it may not feel natural to do so - get into the habit of that because toxic masculinity doesn't help. But above all - stop giving a damn. Finding yourself throughout life is a constant journey and you need to be comfortable enough with yourself to try new things. The opinions others may have of you being in touch with your feminine side really do not matter because it should be all about doing and being in touch with what's best for you and your mental health.


Patriarchy is about repression. Young British Asian men aren't able to emotionally express themselves or connect with others as certain feelings are deemed too "feminine". Young British Asian women aren't given the right or importance to be heard. It's all about maintaining the status quo and putting men firmly in the driving seat - and mentally or emotionally stopping them from connecting with females so as to feel sympathy for their plight. Hence, "feminine sides" are discouraged. It's all about power. In the case of sexual harassment in the workplace, a man should first talk to the victim (let them know what they saw). The victim should come first. Support them if they would like to report it to management. But if they don't want to, understand their reasons but still advise them to do so. There may be fear or other reasons, so stand by their side. Otherwise, consider reporting it on their behalf. No one should have to go through that and no one should turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace”.



Amardeep Sandhu is a talented law graduate who is currently working in contract management within the oil and gas industry.


“The patriarchy is a globally prevalent structure. However, arguably this remains reinforced within the South Asian culture particularly the Indian culture. The result of this is the bolstering of traditional and stereotypical gender roles, hindering a respectable pace of social progression and development. Overcoming this or at least attempting to tackle this requires a certain courage and resilience. For men looking to embrace their femininity, this is even more challenging. The treatment of transgender people in Indian culture is dismissive often through complete abandonment and ex-communication. The freedom for gay, bisexual, transgender or transvestite men to be their true and authentic selves is consequently hindered by a deep shame.


"History is not made, and barriers are not broken by centuries of compliance, adherence and obedience."


In western culture, whilst many young generation males in these categories are educated through more liberal and accepting education systems, most are still first-generation citizens being the sons of Indian-educated immigrants. The culture clash is rampant. Conversely, the alternative is what? Radical obedience, social compliance, adherence to convention, tradition and expectation. My opinion on this is simple – history is not made, and barriers are not broken by centuries of compliance, adherence and obedience.


I understand in-depth, the complexity that comes with balancing a path of true happiness against one which respects one’s family values and traditions. This is no easy comparison, however, my mindset to those struggling with the shackles of societal expectations would simply be this – when one lives in a culture which will emphasise every flaw it can find, why exhaust oneself trying to achieve a level of perfection that frankly does not exist? Life is simply too short”.


Sexism is still a prevalent issue in the South Asian community and it is our responsibility to break those barriers and mindset, preventing it from continuing to the next generation. I am certain that many of you have had those difficult conversations with your parents and family members. Sexism needs to be identified, whether that's at home or the workplace, and those who are responsible need to be held accountable whether it is a stranger, colleague, friend or family member.

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