Intersectionality and Us
A week ago, my family and I attended my little cousin’s birthday party, who just turned 3. It was a bustling atmosphere; people laughing, and loud music was playing … I was talking to my cousins. I hadn’t seen my second cousin, Asha, in particular.
While the rest of the parents were chatting and the children were playing, My aunt, Asha’s mom, stayed with us and listened. I made small talk with her about how she was and what was new.
I soon learned that Asha was autistic. This was sad news as her two elder siblings were autistic as well. The difference was that Asha talked more. My aunt confided in me; she was worried that Asha would never get married, and that she would never host a wedding.
I had not noticed any difference between Asha and the other children. Sure, her voice and speech were different, but she was social and happy. She interacted with all of us.
The conversation made me question the values in our society. Why was it so important to have a big wedding or even a wedding at all? I cannot help but think that this value is assigned to females. It makes me think about how prejudice is taught, how people are raised differently, or in other words, the intersectionality of oppression. Most importantly, it showed how to truly move forward as a society, we need to champion intersectional feminism for true equality.
The more I think about marriage and the stereotypes related to marriage, the more I have the mind that women are on some timeline, like some objects that can be expired. I remember as a kid talking to my friends about when I would get married, when I would meet “The One,” when I would have children, how many children I would have, and more. I never talked about this with my male friends.
The pressure is everywhere, and yet marriage can be detrimental.
Feminists have spent several decades trying to change the many laws that render women legal non-persons in a marriage. Across much of the world, wives still don’t have the same rights as their husbands when it comes to everything from divorce to property rights to child custody to inheritance to the ability to choose to get married in the first place. It is also important to note that even if they do have rights, women will often take on most of the physical and emotional labor. They will be the primary caregivers and tend to the house, while also financially contributing.
The facts back this up. Getting married is not some fairytale dream as one would suggest; it can harm the women in a relationship. Perhaps this can be explained by history. Historically, marriage meant that a girl, or rather, the father’s property, would be passed on to her husband. It was because “Women were weaker, more nurturing than men.” However, even in this context, it is the patriarchy. In the past, women tended to do all chores, take care of the children, tend to wounds, and such. They would raise the children all alone. They would fetch water from the well and yet, underappreciated for what they do. While we as a country have moved past that, the expectation that women should submit to men remains, though vaguely. Married women do more housework than women who cohabit with their partners: “It is not simply the presence of a man that is associated with women’s spending more time on housework,” researchers have found “It is the presence of a husband.”
This brings us back to where we started. Why should we place so much importance on getting married for women? There is no protector, no savior, and none of the stories we are told as children are real. There is no “The One” or lover that we seek as teens. Once we hit adulthood, there is no need to be married and have kids only because everyone else is doing it, or our parents did.
The more I think about societal expectations, the angrier I get. Women deserve to just be. Not what her family wants, not what her significant other wants, not what society wants, but what she needs: to live.
Asha will do fine in life. She is bright and bubbly, and interacts with the rest of the cousins well. She will have the chance to live her own life, and not be a prize for another. I hope that as time goes on, she will be able to decide how she wants to talk, look, act like a person, rather than as a girl who has no choice, who has to change in order to be selected.
“It’s Culture” or “it’s tradition” is not a good reason to do anything.