9 Ways You Don't Realise You're Being Internally Misogynistic Towards Your Mom
I'm guilty of it. You're guilty of it. Let's work on it together.
Real talk: We, as women, have consciously or ignorantly judged, slut-shamed, discouraged, or stereotyped other women over the course of our lives.
The teen years were a particularly ignorant time for a lot of us from a feminist point of view.
But even now, while a lot of us (including myself) identify as feminists and genuinely believe in the encouragement, protection, and freedom of women, we sometimes tend to display a form of misogyny without realising it — internalised misogyny towards our mothers.
And I've been taking notice of the shitty things I do, have done in the past, and have seen my friends doing, that are forms of internalised misogyny, which our brains "allow" because we do it all in the comfort of our homes. Let's take a look at some common situations and work on them together:
When you compare her to your friends' moms.
I had an awful habit as a teenager where I would come home from a friend's house and tell my mother how great the friend's mom was, and how "cool" she was, and how much she did for us. How she spoke to us so impressively, and understood the workings of the world better. I would sometimes imply (and other times, outrightly tell her) that she needs to up her game. Because my friend's mom seemed "more educated" or more "well-spoken".
There is no one particular kind of ideal mom.
When you expect only her to cook, as if cooking at home is her job.
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Working or stay-at-home, it isn't your mother's "job" to cook for you and the rest of the family. You cannot get angry at her because she hasn't cooked. It is not her job as the woman of the household. Help her with her chores, and help around the house in general now that you've grown up.
Gender roles are not just for you to defy. Your mom should be able to un-adhere to them too.
When you snap back at her for being "just another housewife".
Moms can sometimes tell you you're working more hours than you should. They will sometimes even criticise you for doing certain work-related things that they didn't have to do in their youth. And if it's a mom who doesn't have an office job, it's very easy for you to blurt out, "How would you know? You haven't even worked outside the house!"
When you feel something like that at the tip of your tongue, shut the hell up immediately. Of course she would've worked if she'd had the freedom and opportunity and it's unfair to blame her for chances she didn't have. I'm still working on not being a condescending shit to my "housewife" mom who had her fair share of hardships, all of which dwarf my work struggles.
When you shame her for not dressing "age-appropriately".
Your mom can wear every gaudy colour in the rainbow and put on as many pieces of jewellery as she damn well pleases. Because it's her life and not yours. Being a mom and looking maternal is not her identity. Moms don't have to look virginal (the irony) just because society propagates that.
When you forget where she's coming from when she sometimes expects you to learn to do "gendered" things.
When mom tells you to learn to cook and clean "because you're a girl", or that you should cover up more, realise where it is coming from. Don't get angry without an explanation; take your time with her.
Most desi moms did not have the privilege of growing up in an age where they had access to feminist discourse and/or a family that was supportive of them doing non-ladylike things. While you are privileged to be alive in the age of the internet, she has most likely had an upbringing where she was constantly told that learning how to do "things women should do" will increase her value as a person.
It's okay if it takes slow, steady, and gentle reminders for someone like her to be open to newer ideas about women's worth.
When you bring out the classic old body-shaming.
Sometimes body-shaming your mother will seem just too "normal" to be avoided. She body-shames you sometimes. She tells you when you're gaining weight or when you're getting too dark. Does your feminism only exist for when she's giving you an earful, or also when she walks out looking too "ill-groomed" for your standards? Is it okay to tell her how big she has gotten?
Your feminism also exists for your mom.
When you put up with your dad speaking to her disrespectfully or in an entitled manner.
Standing up to misogynists on Twitter is easier than recognising and standing up to them at home. Most people don't want to admit or acknowledge that their dad is misogynistic. But it is important to protect your mom from this daily male entitlement, and teach your dad to be a better human being to her and other women in his life.
When you refuse to help her with technology, or do it with a scowl.
You are essentially discouraging a woman from a kind of education you hold the power to provide her with. Don't leave your mom in the puraana zamaana, and then also blame her for having puraane khayaal.
When you reduce her to the role of a mother, and nothing else.
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She is so, so much more than that.
In the lead-up to Mother's Day, join us in celebrating our moms all week. Because our ammas, ammis, mammas, and mums deserve way more than just a day.
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