Growing up Pakistani, I think my fellow friends and family who have grown up in an Asian community and Asian family can agree that there are some great things about being raised this way. The love and encouragement, the grounding, the delicious wholesome food, the sleepovers at cousins and the siblings that share your way of life are all a great gift.
But unfortunately, in maybe equal measure there are also bad. Our parents, or grandparents came from a generation with distinct gender roles, a deep-rooted mindset about “what will other people think” and sometimes expectations on the kids, that sadly, the stereotypes seem to be ingrained in society. You’ll have at least one Asian friend who will have heard the phrase “What will people think” if they try to make a decision that is slightly out of the norm.
It’s 2018, soon to be 2019, so don’t you think, it’s time we made a change?
We belong to a new generation that believes in empowerment. We can see women fiercely breaking old stereotypes. I see men breaking the mould and making their own career decisions. I see fathers and brothers helping in domestic work. I feel happy when I see mothers doing their job diligently. They treat their sons and daughters as equals now.
Some, however, are still unable to break free from their deep-rooted mindset. Sadly, this kind of thinking comes with a fear of the people, about gossip, a high regard for family honour, for acceptance, and sometimes it doesn’t matter to them, at what cost they achieve this.
What will society think?
Often, Asian kids grow up in a way which stops them making their own individual decisions. Want to move out before you get married? Hell no, what will people think?! Want to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend? That’s an even bigger taboo, how can you! Inviting your close family to your wedding? Well what about the auntie’s, sisters’ son who will feel left out? Better invite him too!
It’s not just expectations outside the home either. The expectations sometimes exist in the household too. Most families still maintain the old gender stereotypes that homely duties are a female’s job and going out for work is a man’s job. Most men and women do not appreciate a man doing household chores. He is seen as less of a man. His manhood is questioned, and he is assumed to be timid and unsuccessful in his career.
“Log Kya kahenge “literally means What will people say! In today’s world these 3 words are one of the biggest barrier to success.
For example – if we want to drop our Medicine degree and want to do Art, then maybe your parents will agree, but there will be a huge “log kya kahenge” problem. So, you then maybe stop your ambitions and succumb to the pressure of society and their expectations and never pursue your dreams.
Let’s take another example of inter-caste marriage. Most people are against inter- caste marriage. Parents may be against their son or daughter marrying someone out of their caste because of the worry of what society thinks. And so, their child ends up marrying someone begrudgingly. This is a huge problem and can be addresses entirely on its own.
Some common expectations of society in the Asian community:
Have you heard your relatives say any of these to you?
- You should be married by a certain age
- What are you studying? Oh… English? Don’t you want to do something else?
- Women should do most of the housework
- Who will marry you, if you can’t even cook?
- If you’re married, “why haven’t you had kids yet?”
- You must be a doctor, engineer or lawyer!
My Advice: Society don’t pay your bills, so do whatever the hell you want!
Really it boils down to this. Do the community or society pay your bills? Do they live with the consequences of your life decisions? No and no.
So why consult the opinion of strangers when it comes to love, career, housework, expectations etc? Just do what makes you happy!
If you have an experience of growing up Asian and how this may have stopped you pursuing something you really wanted, please drop us a comment. We’d love to share your story on the matter to raise awareness on this all-so-important issue!
Finally, one last bit of advice:
Live and let other’s live…