Even though India is one of the most rapidly developing countries, the situation of women in the country is not so good. The social structure, although rapidly changing, is patriarchal in most of the country.
It’s widely known that a particular gender is preferred over the other; in most sections of the society. I’ve observed many people around me doing this. If they’ve got a girl child, they keep trying for a boy child. Some even terminate the pregnancy if it’s a girl child.
Although, this is changing you can still see such cases around you; quite easily and the best part is that they act like they’re doing nothing.
It’s a shame but these people still exist.
This has nothing to do with education or class. These people I know around me are well educated and of an upper-middle or elite class but they indulge in such heinous moral crimes. For me, gender discrimination is a filthy moral crime.
Recently, a television commercial ignited a thought in my mind. I had this thought somewhere hidden but now it has surfaced.
If you observe in this television commercial, you might not find what I am trying to say. At first, everything seems quite normal but if you see closely, you’ll find something that’s normal for most of us but quite unacceptable to me.
The mother in this television commercial address both her daughters as beta. In Hindi, beta means a son. Now, before jumping into conclusion and saying that there’s nothing wrong in calling daughters that, do hear what I have to say.
Many argue that:
- People call their daughters beta out of affection and they have no discriminatory feelings
- Beta is not a gender-based word and it just means a child
But let’s deep inside this.
To explore the second point, Hindi is a gender-based language. Everything has a gender plus the society has given gender to even colors and umbrellas! It’s called antonymy i.e. lexical relation indicating the opposites. The son is called beta and the daughter is called beti. So, the argument of a gender-neutral word is canceled.
The word beta is gender-based. It means a son. Period.
Let’s explore the first point. If people can call their daughters beta affectionately, why don’t they call their sons beti? The best is to address sons and daughters with respective names as per the language.
I discussed this with many people and some friends who are parents, psychologists, spiritual leaders, social activists and I have found that this happens because of two reasons:
- Patriarchal mindset
- Lack of interest to adopt change
Indians have been mostly following the patriarchal social structure since ages and a son has a special place in the structure. Even where this is not a case, people show a lack of interest to change their old habits.
You’ll find people calling their daughter beta and justifying it that it’s alright and just an old habit — just like the superstitious of applying a black dot on a baby’s face. I trust these people but I say isn’t it time to change and accept and appreciate their daughter’s gender?
Can’t we address people with their real gender?
I’ve also observed that this wasn’t the case some years ago. Many films and TV serials addressed daughters as beti.
PS: It’s only in these few years that we have become more regressive rather than becoming progressive; especially on media. If you see the content of the olden days, daughters were addressed as beti in films and TV serials.
It was so nice to see a British-Pakistani web-series Citizen Khan in which the father never addresses her daughter as beta. The whole family calls their daughter beti. In the popular Hindi TV serial Bhabiji Ghar Pe Hai, the father of one of the women keeps calling her beta. In another popular Hindi TV serial Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, there is one girl child but the entire family and the housing society members caller her beta.
A certain practice doesn’t become right if many people are doing it. Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are dangerous even if the whole world is doing it. In one case, when I objected to my friend calling her daughter beta, she told me that she calls her so because she’s equal to ten sons.
I feel so disgusted with this comparison stuff.
It doesn’t seem an issue now but it’s not respecting the rights of the women. This has to be changed. This is how criminal activities start. When the first man must have molested the young girl child, we said the same thing — it’s alright nothing happens. When the first man must have forced her wife to terminate the pregnancy, we must have said — it’s alright nothing happens.
We need to change this IT’S ALRIGHT, NOTHING HAPPENS attitude. We also need to change the THIS IS NOT THE REAL PROBLEM attitude.
Everything matters, everything small leads to something big in the future.
Neither I’m, saying that I’m 100% right, nor I’m saying that you may be calling your daughter beta deliberately, but I feel it’s time to rethink our habits and change some of them for the betterment of our children.
For God’s sake, please don’t call your daughter beta if you don’t dare to call your son beti.