I ask you to not to prejudge the content of this piece. Let me just assure you that this is not yet another “radical feminist” article. The purpose of this article is not to prove that Tamil males are sexist Neanderthals who are bent on enslaving the female population. Rather, I would like to discuss the difficulties that Tamil women face in integrating themselves into Western society while maintaining their cultural identities. I speak openly, honestly and without inhibition – that is, I speak as a Tamil woman.
Women cannot be independent. They are either dependent on their parents, their brother, their husbands or their children. Women are raised to doubt their own decisions. They are told not to ask questions, to be obedient, to behave like a girl and not draw attention to themselves.
How then can you expect women to ask a question during lectures, to be assertive in the workplace, or to take an interest in their finances? One cannot succeed in life without initiative and confidence – and these are things that are deconstructed the minute a Tamil girl hits puberty.
Women are also discouraged from socializing with their own peers. “Don’t talk on the phone, be home before six, and never, ever go near Tamil boys.” It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 26 – the same rules apply until you are married. You may have a job and you may have listened to your parents’ every command whether you agreed or not. But you still have to ask permission for something as trivial as having a cup of coffee with an old schoolmate. Trivial to you. “What will other people say” to them.