Cultural Misogyny Affects My Ambitions
Start writing a post

Cultural Misogyny Is A Real Thing And It Affects My Ambitions More Than You Know

Breaking generational curses as a brown girl raised in the twenty-first century.

Melissa Sahadeo

"Melissa, I'll tell you one thing: before you marry a man, make sure his salary is higher than yours. You don't want your husband to feel ashamed of himself when he sees his wife making more money than him."

Mouth agape, my mind was unable to comprehend what I had just heard. Albeit, I found humor in the realization that this came from a man whose wife was, indeed, making more money from her career than he was, I could not find humor in the meaning behind the degrading advice itself.

I was born into a conservative, misogynistic culture through my Guyanese background, despite living in New York City, a setting notorious for being liberal and modernized. It is a culture where young girls involuntarily wed a stranger after finishing school, a culture where a woman's main expectation is to bear children and raise them at home, a culture when a woman must adhere to her husband's every demand. It is a culture that demoralizes women, restraining them from pursuing a "man's job," but a culture that shapes the other half of my identity.

At 14 years old, I realized these traditional morals my family upheld had contradicted the morals I developed as a millennial who is indulged in a city and era where our youth is at its peak of liberation. I felt helpless and defeated, having not expecting my parents to react in such an obscure way towards my career goals.

But I remember one day coming across a compelling quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel, "We Should All Be Feminists:" "We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, 'you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you will threaten the man.'"

I was captivated. Adichie perfectly illustrated the underlying cultural misogyny surrounding me - the reasons I felt constrained in my liberty to pursue whatever life I please. It made me realized that I'm not the only woman of color who had to encounter parental disapproval in future aspirations due to internalized sexism in my culture.

Aside from the tendency of East Indian culture to demean the daily lives of women, I have sincere admiration for my ethnic roots. I take pride knowing I am from the only English-speaking country in South America. I'm fond of the cultural diversity, music, and the unique Guyanese dialect that sounds like home to me, however, I am not fond of the traditional and oppressive values that I am expected to inherit. I don't want to be a statistic of my culture.

I want to be someone my grandparents are proud of, someone my daughters can look up to.

In spite of that, I consider myself to be enlightened. Empowered. Inspired. Adichie's work taught me to disregard the factors that portray sexism in my life. It helped me understand that women should not be subjected to lesser achievements for the sake of preserving those of men, but rather craft their own pathway towards a prosperous future. It allows me to withstand those who deny the existence of my full potential and embrace a divine future that subdues oppressive gender normalities. Ambition is for everyone of all genders, ages, and ethnicities: freedom that should not be limited nor restricted to anyone.

Report this Content
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments