Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sexism and Genderism: Hegemonic masculinity Nepalese society

Nepalese society is one of the most sexism and genderism hegemonic masculinity societies in the world that hates female and favour male. Due to this there are many popular sayings and proverbs related to such societal mindset and practices have been coined that make girls and women feel humiliation and discourage to speak openly which proves how much male dominated and penis rule prevalent in our society. Such proverbs and sayings  focus particularly on those ones portraying a woman/female as inferior, secondary and even dispensable in our hegemonic masculinity society. Most of the Nepalese  proverbs, some subtle and others too direct, help to de-humanize a woman from her birth right till the death; and help to reinforce the idea of her sexual-utility and breeding roles in the society.

Sayings and proverbs reflect our societal mindset, our ideology and our culture and our attitude. Proverbs reflect the family we live in, and the values we transfer to the new generation. Through these proverbs prevailing in the Nepali societies, the article shows how the seed of discrimination and bias against a girl is sowed and nurtured in our culture, values and attitude. And, in our subconscious.

Here are some popular sayings and proverbs related to women and men.

· “If the hen starts crowing, it should be slaughtered and thrown over the hill.” (Women must be submissive. If they speak up, they should be discarded.)

‘Never mind the delay as long as it is a son.’ Alternatively, ‘Birth of a daughter is a doomed fate’.

"Beget a son, and dine on mutton; beget a daughter, get pumpkin."

"A daughter is the nest of shame."

"The daughter is for managing the household; the son is for the world."

"The riches in the fist and the wife within sight."

"A manly man has ten wives."

"If no sons are born, families die."

“Without son, family will be un-balanced”

"Sons are the support of old age”

"To raise and care for a girl is like taking care of someone else’s garden."

“When a girl is born, the earth sinks by a foot, but when a boy is born, it rises on foot to greet him.”

· “If you look after her well – good. If you kill her, you are cursed.” (Reference to bidding the bride farewell after the wedding ceremony. The bride’s mother ties a knot in cloth containing money, nuts, holy thread etc and gives it to the groom with this message.)

· “Even a beggar does not take alms from a barren woman.”

· “If there is a son, you are safe. If it is a daughter, you have dismay.”

· “A daughter from a family of good background will be good… like pure water.” (Equates ‘good’ to being disciplined, respectful, obedient)

· “A husband with two wives goes to the corner and cries.”

· “The in-law who is very weak has eaten soybean so is weaker now. What do we do with her?”
(Refers to the devaluation of daughter-in-law and sister-in-law; their malnourishment in some homes; and the traditional rejection of soybean as a good food)

· “Women don’t have Adam’s apples because they can’t keep secrets.” (Suggests women are chattering gossips and do not have the discretion of men)

· “Women are excluded from the maternal house once married and suffer the battering of their husbands, so what is their status?”

· “If a daughter dies, she goes to a big house.” (No worry, no loss when a girl or woman dies)

· “Daughters of widows are like bulls.” (Without a man around, they must be wild and uncontrollable)

· “Who has sons has property, who owns a cow has the forest.”

· “We should listen to our male elders and go near their fire for heat.” (Men are the source of strength, protection, warmth etc….)

· “A son’s relation is a bone relation. A daughter’s relation is like leaves.” (A son’s relations are lasting and valuable while a daughter’s fall like leaves and become worthless.)

· “An uncle’s property is invested in auntie’s ritual.” (Translates similar to ‘easy come-easy go’ and has underpinnings that relate to the low value put on in-laws and their property)

· “If late, let it be a son.”

· “If a boy is born, cut a goat. If a girl is born, cut a pumpkin.”

· “Where women are respected, God enjoys.” - Manusmriti

“Drum, savage, sudra, animal and women- these are to be beaten” –Indian Poet Tulsi Das

· “In childhood a female must be subject to her father…in youth to her husband…and when her lord is dead to her sons - women must never be independent” - Manusmriti

· “It is not good if women give opinions”

· “The daughter is a thing to give away, for someone else she is kept”

· “What a relief to send her away today, I am light as a feather and free from debt” – Indian Poet Kali Das

“In childhood a female must be subject to her father; in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons. A woman must never be independent. -Manusmirit V, 145

Source/Courtesy:
1. Umesh Shrestha's blog
2. Gender Awareness Training Module  Canada Nepal Gender in Organizations Project with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency
3. Manumriti
4. GoN/GoF 2005. GENDER & SOCIAL DISCRIMINATION STUDY: A Comprehensive Assessment on Gender & Caste Based Discrimination in the Hill Districts of Mid and Far Western Development Regions

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