Riddle me this

“Amma, I was sitting in class with my knees pulled up against the desk.  My legs were not spread out, I was just resting my knees (together) on the desk because my lower back was cramping.  My teacher comes up to me and says ‘we are in a boy-girl school, don’t sit like that’.  If she thinks boys will ogle at me if I sit like this (although I don’t know why they should: I wouldn’t look at a boy in my class if he sits with his entire legs on the desk), shouldn’t she be chiding the boys for ogling rather than me for sitting?”


Can any one answer my 12-year old’s question ?  I can’t because I don’t know the answers to that or the following other questions she has had in the recent past:

  1. Why can’t I wear shorts to play?  You let me wear them until last year?
  2. Why must I be penalised because men can’t control themselves from looking at my legs?
  3. Why can’t girls have a foot ball team in school?
  4. Why must girls only play kho kho or shuttlecock ?
  5. Why must girls wear salwar kameez uniform with a waistcoat when boys can wear comfortable pant and shirt?
  6. Why are boys not taught about menstruation in school?  Shouldn’t they know as well?  At least they’d understand why I was sitting with my knees against the desk.
  7. Why must I wear a waistcoat?  So what if the shape of my breasts show through the kurtha?  Aren’t breasts a natural part of a woman’s anatomy?  Do boys have to wear a hip-coat to hide the shape of their penis?

I have a few more questions (e.g. why must I not stand on the balcony because a random guy whistled at me?), but mine have waited 30 years, they can wait longer.  She is just starting out her life as a woman.  Can someone please answer her?  I can’t.



9 thoughts on “Riddle me this

  1. The V Pub

    These are questions that should never have been prompted by anyone. The patriarchy must fall before we can move forward. As a species, we must let go of long held beliefs that only benefit one gender.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Maha

    All I can think of is – we live in an immature society that fails to evolve and it’s too bad that we have to rebel and devote so much mind space to something that should be a non-event in this day and age (or for that matter any day or age). We may not have answers but V should not stop asking. Change is slow and intangible but it’s happening, in bits and pieces.

    Boys here are taught about periods. They squirm but I think it helps them understand boys and girls are built different biologically. I spent more time talking about puberty in girls and how not to look or treat girls or women when this topic was brought up last year in school.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Soumya Subramanian

    Well that sucks. Fwiw, kids here in 6th grade are taught about puberty. Boys learn about mensuration as well, and I can tell you my teenager has a lot of empathy for me now. You should talk to her teacher, as the mom of 2 boys, I can tell you I educate my boys and hold them to the same standards as any girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hangaku Gozen

    It is changing: I have a lot of hope for the Millennial generation of young men, who seem at least more aware of feminist issues and a woman’s right to control her own body. My son is almost hyper aware, to the point where he lectures his sisters on sexual assault and female autonomy. (I joke about my son being the radical feminist in the family, but it’s true: he does care passionately about these issues, which may explain why he has more friends who are women.)

    It’s not a bad thing to talk to your daughter about protecting herself in a sexist world, what Dan Savage calls “the Trump Talk,” but don’t discourage her from finding her own path. No, a mother never wants to see her daughter harmed by stupid men, but I feel that girls should have the right to strike out and discover the world just as much as boys do.


    1. LG

      HG, my daughter says that her classmate boys are nice people, and are not as painful as the adult teachers who are largely misogynists, despite being women themselves. I believe her.

      That said, as I wait outside my daughter’s school to pick her up I often overhear conversation between other moms, of boys. In India, boys continue to be treated like lords and masters – every whim being fulfilled. These boys are in middle school, but the moment the bell rings, they drop their bags on their mothers’ laps and walk out like royalty. Ironically, I don’t find moms of daughters pamper their daughters as much. It bothers me..not not pampering girls, but the over pampering of boys. No wonder they grow up with a sense of entitlement. Again, this is in India.I am sure it is very different out there.

      My standing advice to her is – do what you want to defend yourself, I will back you one hundred percent.

      Liked by 1 person


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