You Did (Not) Hear This From Me But…

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An open letter to all females to end slut-shaming:

I’m not trying to be mean but…

There’s no denying our culture is based on a patriarchal system. Most of us have been socialized to believe that misogyny is okay; most of us don’t even know what misogyny is.

No offence but…

Why do Tamil girls treat each other as bad as, if not worse than, Tamil boys treat us?

I’m not one to judge but…

We Tamil girls tend to put down our sisters more than empower them.

To each their own but…

We have all done things of which we aren’t proud. Why do we need to ridicule or spread the misdoings of another?

Good for her but…

Just because you didn’t  directly add anything to the comments, by being passive you still allow the negativity to thrive.

You didn’t hear this from me but…

If we Tamil girls unite and choose to empower one another rather than put each other down, we will be a force to be reckoned with. We have the power to bring change to our generation’s circle of misogyny. We have the ability to shape the future generations so that no girl has to feel unsafe, alone and unhappy.

Well that one you did hear from me.

How many of you have seen a girl dressed a particular way and said or thought “Slut”?

How many of you have heard a rumour about another girl and told your friends?

How many of you have jumped to a conclusion about another girl because of a “look” she allegedly gave you?

It’s okay to admit fault; I’m doing it right along with you.

Now how many of you have had this happen to you?

Slut shaming, body shaming, bitch shaming, sexuality shaming, image shaming all are rampant in our social culture. The one thing these practices share is the negative act of putting someone down.

Before you all jump down my throat I would like to state that I am among this population of Tamil girls who has ‘shit talked’ another and I will be taking steps towards changing this behaviour. Also I understand that not all Tamil girls or boys fall into this unfortunate paradigm.

Listen up ladies, the longer we continue to bad mouth one another the more room we’re allowing males to bad mouth us. We can’t expect Tamil boys to respect us and stop treating us like objects when we can’t even respect each other. We’re already forced to live with the countless pressures associated with cultural and family expectations, so why make it harder? We all understand the difficulty of finding yourself within a culture that traditionally expects girls to behave a particular way. Why is anything out of the norm considered deviant and automatically results in bad mouthing, all because she’s trying to find herself in this crazy world?

Sure you might think you being one single person having said something in confidence to your friend isn’t going to hurt anyone but that’s where you’re wrong. You might not be directly hurting someone but you are fostering a culture in which females are scrutinized and mocked. By not standing up against this behaviour, you are pretty much saying it is okay for it to continue.

So what can we do? Personally upon writing this article, I have taken a personal oath to not engage in this behaviour towards anyone (or at least do my best). Sometimes it is not always easy to catch it before it comes out, especially if you are in a community where it is so prevalent. Making a conscious effort is a good start and if you do slip, you can always take your words back and be more careful next time.  Another way to take control of the negative situation is to not sit idly by when your friends or the people around you are saying harmful words. Speaking up might not be easy in certain situations and will probably raise a few eyebrows from your girlfriends at the time. But in all honestly they aren’t going to kick you out of that friend group just because you stood up for someone, and if they do it’s probably for the best.

To recognize the long history of bravery, confidence and liberation our foremothers have gone through for us to experience the numerous privileges we have received in life is amazing. We, Tamil women, are a group with limitless potential. This is clearly evident from the success of our sisters in politics, business and academia to name a few fields. I look at these women and the Tamil women back home who have directly and indirectly fought for freedom and see the potential our generation possesses. Imagine what we can achieve together if we supported our sisters whole heartedly; lifted them up rather than put them down.

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Banureka Satkuneshwaran

Banureka Satkuneshwaran

Banureka of House Satkuneshwaran, the First of Her Name. Sri Lanka born, Toronto raised. Soon to be University of Waterloo graduate. Aspiring cat owner. Lover of fried chicken, lame jokes and Netflix. Supporter of impulse decisions. Ilavaraci of her household.

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9 thoughts on “You Did (Not) Hear This From Me But…

  1. More fitting would be an open letter to tamil men. This article is akin to telling women they deserve to be raped based on their clothing. Don’t blame the victim.

  2. Darling, if I wanted to find out if a girl really did sleep around, I don’t ask for advice from men but from women, especially her best friend. AAhhh women… LOL

  3. Don’t worry Men. I too cringe at this article and much of the content on this site…. We are being severly being misrepresented by all these women in their attempt to justify their abhorrent behaviour.
     Just look at the front page….mostly women and articles written by women. We need an alternative platform.

  4. Virginity and female virginity especially is a big thing among both Tamils and general society. In Tamil culture, women especially are often expected to be chaste until marriage and a virgin until their wedding night. There are also examples of historical women figures held up as virtuous for being chaste and pure virgins. If you read Ramayana, female sexual purity is one of the main themes, so that has been part of Tamil culture for millenia.
    I understand some historical reasons for this. In the past, a woman who stays chaste until marriage removes any doubt of the child not belonging to her husband.
    What about now? Why are women often still sought after to be virgins until marriage? I can see how this may offer emotional protection, but surely that can’t be the only reason. Is it because of the idea that a woman (or even a man) must only form such a bond with the one they marry? Are “chaste” women considered to be better wives because they only have their husband on their minds?
    In the diaspora, perhaps virginity is part & parcel of a general protectionism aimed at Tamil children. The sense of fragility that immigration can often endow in our parents can be exacerbated by fears of us becoming “Westernised”. Having continents, your way of life, your class position shifted can really scare our parents. So knowing where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re friends with, what our future is – virginity and romantic entanglements could be another symptom of the aforementioned protectionism.
    I use general terms because in my experience the restrictive or worrying attitudes towards dating extends to both Tamil boys and girls, but it is heightened for women (the focus of the discussion). Whether it is equating femininity with fragility, or experience with predatory patriarchy (“we know what men are like”), there can be an acute concern for daughters.

  5. Virginity and female virginity especially is a big thing among both Tamils and general society. In Tamil culture, women especially are often expected to be chaste until marriage and a virgin until their wedding night. There are also examples of historical women figures held up as virtuous for being chaste and pure virgins. If you read Ramayana, female sexual purity is one of the main themes, so that has been part of Tamil culture for millenia.
    I understand some historical reasons for this. In the past, a woman who stays chaste until marriage removes any doubt of the child not belonging to her husband.
    What about now? Why are women often still sought after to be virgins until marriage? I can see how this may offer emotional protection, but surely that can’t be the only reason. Is it because of the idea that a woman (or even a man) must only form such a bond with the one they marry? Are “chaste” women considered to be better wives because they only have their husband on their minds?
    In the diaspora, perhaps virginity is part & parcel of a general protectionism aimed at Tamil children. The sense of fragility that immigration can often endow in our parents can be exacerbated by fears of us becoming “Westernised”. Having continents, your way of life, your class position shifted can really scare our parents. So knowing where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re friends with, what our future is – virginity and romantic entanglements could be another symptom of the aforementioned protectionism.
    I use general terms because in my experience the restrictive or worrying attitudes towards dating extends to both Tamil boys and girls, but it is heightened for women (the focus of the discussion). Whether it is equating femininity with fragility, or experience with predatory patriarchy (“we know what men are like”), there can be an acute concern for daughters.

  6. On TC you read about a lot of Tamil women who have to hide their boyfriends and sex lives from their future husbands which is one of the biggest differences between our culture and the general mainstream culture that surrounds us. Most of the unmarried age 30+ Tamil women fall into this category.
    I sometimes read TC articles about desi women’s’ experiences. The comments are interesting because Tamil men and Tamil women have very different views on their lives, culture, and ambitions. A lot of the men seem to take this type of “ownership” of women that is not welcome by the female commenters. This type of “ownership” mentality has deep roots and is something that Tamil men seem to feel is acceptable and admirable. I think this has something to do with it – the female having control over her own body and choices.
    I think it also has to do with Tamils being sexually repressed in general. If a man is a virgin, he feels inadequate if his wife has been with other men. It’s kind of like your first relationship – you feel jealous all the time if the other person gets any attention from anyone else. After a few relationships, you learn to deal with it. But most Tamil men are virgins so they never learn how to deal with jealousy and insecurity and all the other feelings when in a relationship.

  7. On TC you read about a lot of Tamil women who have to hide their boyfriends and sex lives from their future husbands which is one of the biggest differences between our culture and the general mainstream culture that surrounds us. Most of the unmarried age 30+ Tamil women fall into this category.
    I sometimes read TC articles about desi women’s’ experiences. The comments are interesting because Tamil men and Tamil women have very different views on their lives, culture, and ambitions. A lot of the men seem to take this type of “ownership” of women that is not welcome by the female commenters. This type of “ownership” mentality has deep roots and is something that Tamil men seem to feel is acceptable and admirable. I think this has something to do with it – the female having control over her own body and choices.
    I think it also has to do with Tamils being sexually repressed in general. If a man is a virgin, he feels inadequate if his wife has been with other men. It’s kind of like your first relationship – you feel jealous all the time if the other person gets any attention from anyone else. After a few relationships, you learn to deal with it. But most Tamil men are virgins so they never learn how to deal with jealousy and insecurity and all the other feelings when in a relationship.

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