Parents’ Guide to Bringing Up a Decent Girl

Picasso’s Blue Period by Reya Ahmed

If your child has a vagina, let the obstetrician declare her gender- a girl she is! Welcome, welcome her as the mascot of your family because girls are believed to bring good luck. Rejoice, for legend has it that if you father a daughter, you’ll never have to go to bed starving. Teach her from the very outset of life that she is the honour of the family- a treasure to be cherished.

Paint her room pink so that she may love her room; girls love this colour, and I’m sure your daughter will not be an exception. Buy her little cute pink fairy dresses. Few months later, don’t forget to buy her a kitchen set, a slender Barbie, a doll house and many other feminine toys which have the capability to subtly inculcate in her the virtues of patience and adjustment so essential for the weaker sex. She will love them, I tell you! And when she sobs you will know that she wants another toy. This expression of her needs will persist in her- she is not a boy that she needs to bottle her emotions up always. She will slowly grow up to the idea that whining for what she wants is the best way to achieve it, because sooner or later in life, tears are the most powerful weapon at the command of a woman.

Right before she starts going to school you need to teach her how to sit properly not just in public, but also when alone (the hours spent in solitude are rehearsals for the public behavior befitting a girl). Advise her to be careful that her skirt does not move an inch here or an inch there from its proper place, lest she should be ridiculed, “SHAME, SHAME!” A few days later you will notice that she returns home to speak gibberish, wear a wig, sari, and her granny’s spectacles to playact the role of a teacher- the job that suits women very well. How lovely you will feel when she behaves during playtime exactly how you behave with your spouse! Your best experience will be watching her mind the dolls she regards to be her children, exactly how you take care of her. It is a sublime experience to watch your little princess subconsciously pick up your actions.

Here comes the most significant part. Teach her about the good touch and bad touch. Imagine her as a potential victim of rape (it is always easier than imagining her or yourself as a perpetrator of misogyny or your son as a potential rapist). Teach her that when strangers try to touch her genitals or make her feel physically uncomfortable, she should run to safer zones. Teach her to wholeheartedly accept as good touch all the cuddles that befall girls’ fortune.

As she enters her adolescence, you owe her the responsibility of imparting the most valuable lesson in a woman’s life. One fine day her uterus will begin to bleed. It will bleed every month for one following week or two. Hold a grand ceremony by inviting all your well-wishers to bless your daughter not because she is going to have to bleed from her genitals for a considerable period in the rest of her life, but because now she is finally a woman- a complete one. She can bear children and ensure the persistence of your lineage. (Legally speaking, she can also be raped henceforth, but that is not the reason you’d celebrate.)

If you are her mother, you should tell her that she needs to keep her periods a secret affair. Men should not know when she is menstruating, unless a man happens to be her sexual partner. She should be careful to not drop her sanitary napkin or tampon in public. She should absolutely never be too vocal about her periods even when hanging around with her female friends. It is indecent to do so. She should make it a point to never stain her pants or sheets. Inculcate in her whatever your mother and grandmother inculcated in you about menstruating. If you are her father, the best lesson you can impart is to avoid discussing this matter with her.

This is how she will grow up to be a woman of values one day. She will not invite lecherous stares through revealing clothes or rape through her actions. She will be the goddess you had always wanted to worship- the honour of your family as well as that of her husband’s. If she gets sexually abused someday, you shall never have your upbringing, but only your ill-luck to be held responsible.

Author: Meghna Roy

hi, I write from a hostel room in JNU these days

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