Being a young woman of colour, we have to deal with several kind of challenges. But one of the most contradictory challenges of all is how to try and do better than the past generation, while still living up to the expectations of that same generation, especially those of your parents.
Our mothers deserve the utmost respect for the patience and love they handed us while growing up. They had to deal with so much setbacks while trying to raise their kids in an unknown environment. During that process, they used to deal with the biggest struggles any women could go through. Too often, their response to those problems was to endure them in pain and silence.
This is also what is being taught to our daughters, whether it is consciously or not. We still hear the same things about our generation regarding marriage. Why are divorces increasing? What happened to the patience women had? What are we doing wrong that past generations did not? These questions often implicate that the problem lies exclusively within the actions of women. But why do we not wonder what is wrong within the dynamic of (romantic) relationships in our community?
Like in a lot of households, children often witness the imbalance of power, emotions, and love. This can be harmful, as some households do not offer the stability that a child needs for a healthy upbringing. It is extremely selfish and dysfunctional to impose that troubled environment under the guise of ‘having patience’ or ‘staying together for the sake of the child’. It is better to have two loving parents, separately, then one toxic household. Divorce should be talked about in an open and non-judgemental manner. It is not something shameful, or God would not have made it an option.
I am not an advocate of divorce, I am just trying to destigmatize the issue. If women are not given the space to speak up and deal with their emotions in a healthy way, they should not be forced into a relationship that will continually dismiss them. We won’t allow you to erase our existence by silencing us.
We women are taught to be strong, but dependent. To be well-spoken, but not too much. To be free, within the acceptable limits. “Do not be loud, do not be present, do not be emotional.” Our only qualities are measured in terms of our nurturing and caring character. Because if we are not being a spouse, or mother, then who are we really?
It is time to stop romanticizing the pain and silence that our mothers endured. We are eternally thankful for their sacrifices, but I am glad to hear that my generation is different. We will not be holding on to the pain, we are the generation of letting go.
artwork: Group of Three Girls, 1935, Amrita Sher-Gil