I am not “westernized”, I’m just breaking the patriarchy
By Imasha Costa
I guess you are not unaware of the idea where women tear down other women. Well, neither is the South Asian culture, where it is one of the main “goals” within the community. Growing up under a traditionalistic Sri Lankan community, you are more or less submerged into a claustrophobic patriarchal environment, where women were objectified and meant to look and act a certain way. We could not address out our own opinions, as women are not allowed to share their own opinions. If I did have one, I had to keep my mouth shut as I might change the minds of other girls my age, and we did not want to have that did we? Questions were not to be asked, answers were not given.
I had to dress a certain way where it was not too revealing but still not too conservative, otherwise how am I going to get the boys to like me, but you can’t have a boyfriend. I could wear makeup, maybe a bit of lipstick, but if I do wear a lot of makeup I might be called a whore by other women. So I stuck around, followed the rules, got name called, got called names but I kept on going. But it was the same for myself, I would do the same to the girl who dressed up so provocatively, or if she had several tattoos and piercings. However, I could not stand that I was saying the same things that the other girls were telling me, it just was not right. I knew my ideologies did not fit with the society’s ideologies, and I knew I was not going to fit in no matter how hard I tried to please everyone.
My Sinhalese women, we are growing, our minds our changing, and with that change your judgement towards other women, and be kind.
A question that resonated throughout the Sri Lankan communities was that of ‘what other people think?’ I would argue however, that this question was more of not what other people will think of you, but how much shame you would bring to your family’s name. I, on the other hand, decided to silence the thoughts about what other people would care about and started to listen to what I would care about. We, as women within the community, think that is okay to go around and pull other women down, burn them like a witch for retaliating and going against the patriarchal traditions that have constantly held the community up, but it is not okay. Women should not have to hate on other women, instead respect their decisions, respect the choices that they make. From what I have gathered whilst living in this community is that the patriarchy has constantly been the one who has been influencing women to tear other women down.
Sri Lankan women need to be able to live freely without having to look over their shoulder anytime they are heading home from a night out and are all dressed up because they want to!
Women in the Sri Lankan community should not have to wait five to ten years to wait for society to adapt into the changes that are being “invited” into their community. Its not too hard to change, to take a step and open their eyes into what is happening now. We, women, are not being “westernized” but we are indeed opening our eyes to the dominance that is consuming us on the daily basis.
Sri Lankan women need to be able to live freely without having to look over their shoulder anytime they are heading home from a night out and are all dressed up because they want to! Other women should not judge those that get dressed up the way they want to, and then state that those women were “asking for it.” Our body, our choice.
We need a change in the eyes of the community now, we need people to talk gently but be strong, make them realise that the more they allow themselves to be consumed the patriarchy, it can result in more harm to the women who are living in it. My Sinhalese women, we are growing, our minds our changing, and with that change your judgement towards other women, and be kind.
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