I have an adorable and superactive son who keeps me on my toes all the time. Just the way I had imagined or even wished for. Yes, since the time I started thinking about having kids, I had always wanted a boy. I would have been equally happy with a girl too, but my wish came true when I had a son. He is everything I had asked for – super-naughty, superactive, well-behaved etc etc etc. But wait, am I unlucky to have a son?
If you go by the current ‘beti‘ oriented campaigns everywhere, it does look like that. It seems that having a girl child or wishing for a girl-child is suddenly the in-thing. As a parent, it is downright cruel to differentiate between a boy and a girl. Girls and women in our society have been a victim of gender discrimination for centuries now. Having had a wonderful childhood in a liberal and progressive family, I was fortunate to not have faced any criticism or discrimination due to my gender within the family. But as I stepped out of the confines of my home, I realized the gravity of the situation.
It is heartening to see that people now want a change and welcoming the new and better mindset. And I am completely in favor of giving a better future to those lovely girls around us. But, and it’s a big ‘but’ here, I am also worried about the side-effects of the ‘all-about-beti’ thinking.If you think deeply, this might just reverse the problem and a few centuries down the line, we might be talking about uplifting the boy-child!
As a mother, I cannot and should not let my child know that I would have preferred someone else. A statement made casually to garner appreciation in public (yes, people do that) or just to express a desire can mar a child for lifetime. Think about it, if it is wrong to say that to a girl-child, it is equally bad to say that to a boy-child too. Isn’t it same as promoting gender-bias, in reverse?
And I am not being a disgruntled mother of a son here. There are studies that have proved that even boys are often treated differently due to their gender. In a survey by UNICEF, boys often get harsher punishments in schools as compared to girls. A similar article appeared in Time magazine in 2013 by Erika Christakis, “Do Teachers Really Discriminate Against Boys?” which blatantly highlights that boys can often face discrimination in academics, both harshly and leniently due to the only fact that they are boys. David Benatar extrapolated this battle of the genders and published a paper, The Second Sexism: Discrimination Against Men and Boys, in 2012 which revealed striking truths about how boys and men are a victim of discrimination. Benatar also quotes a controversial assumption across all cultures that whenever a population is threatened, men are often considered expendable than females.
Discrimination, irrespective of its basis, is harmful and often contagious. It percolates through various layers of the community at an alarming rate and becomes a uniformly acceptable norm before you know it. Look around you and you will realize what I am talking about. In spite of our liberal mindsets, we often judge people owing to their gender, religion, age or castes. But since we are mature enough to understand its implications, we do check ourselves before it does any harm.
A similar understanding is expected while nurturing the opinion that irrespective of his or her gender, a child should make parents happy. And we should consider ourselves lucky to have had a child. So next time when you are about to say that you would have been luckier to have had a girl, or a boy, check yourself immediately and say, “I am lucky to have an adorable child!”
Deepali Joshi Adhikary is a freelance writer/blogger/trainer outdoors and a kick-ass mom at home. Her experiences and opinions turn into words on her blog. She has a diverse writing portfolio which spans from light-hearted humor to the issues affecting the society, her parenting challenges and reviews of books. She also has keen interest in andragogy as well as pedagogy and loves to work with different age groups. When she is not writing or training or doting her kid, she likes to read. Connect with her @deepaliadhikary.