Girls Expectations and Demands – (Part 2 – “Good Behavior”)

…Continued from: Part 1 – Career Aspirations

As the saying goes: “Well-Behaved women seldom make history.”  I did grow up in a strict Asian cultural setting.  Luckily, my particular culture does NOT promote killing their own daughters for dishonoring.   Have you seen YouTube’s Sh*t Asian Dad’s Says?  As humorous and ridiculous as the video, it is not far from the truth.  Yes, I wasn’t allowed to date until I finished college, hanging out with guys before finishing school was frowned upon, and no, we weren’t allowed to attend school dances (aka party/dancing). The list goes on.  The whole thing usually revolves around the fear that daughters will drop out, run away with a guy, getting raped or pregnant, thus ruining our lives and dishonoring the family lineage.

Growing up, I was expected to learn how to be domestic (cook, clean, etc), but unlike traditional men, my dad also cooked, cleaned, etc.  In fact, he’s a great cook.  Other traditional Asian dads refuse to even microwave their dinner, even if he’s starving.  In such traditions, there always has to be a woman present to do (female daughter, sister-in-law, friend), because it’s considered a “woman’s role.”  In that case, sometimes my dad is the one who “feeds” his traditional male Asian friends, regardless what they think.

I have heard the most horrific story from an older Vietnamese friend of mine when she was married with her ex-husband who she had a few kids with.  She always had to have food on the table at the right time, and constantly clean up the house and after him.  It was pure hell because several of her in-laws would show up at her house randomly, made her cook a feast for them, and for her to clean up and wash the dishes, while they sat around and did nothing.  If she didn’t do what they say, (because it was her husband’s family that was priority), they would give her hell and if they didn’t want the dish she cooked, they’d reject it and expect her to cook another. They never had anything nice to say to her, about her, gave her a hard time, and rarely thank her for all she gave. It sounded like pure abuse and she told me that’s how it is in traditional culture.

I vowed I’d never run into such situation, and would avoid that at all cost.

Luckily, I was expected to be financially independent. My parents expected me to get a good education, and not rely on a husband to provide. I went to college, paid my own bills, my own loans and had a few apartments of my own, (and even rented an attic!), bought my own car.  With the economy, I have been having a hard time finding the right gigs, but my parents always welcomed me to live at home when necessary.  Marriage is to be determined but not required.  My parents hope that I will.  They insisted kids in the beginning, but at their age now, I’m not pressured to.

However, as an adult, I sparked up controversy among Asian friends when I moved out of my parents at 22.  Traditionally, Asians are only supposed to move out of their parents when they get married.  Surprisingly my dad supported the decision for sake of my career; he didn’t expect me to wait for a husband before doing what I needed to do.  But I wasn’t allowed to room with a male friend though, so I ended up living in what some say the “ghetto.”   Some traditional friend(s) called me ignorant, too Americanized, and naive, and told me I should’ve waited for a husband so that he can protect me also.

As stupid as it sounded for little me to live off in the “ghetto” alone.  I was confident,  trained in the martial arts, and absolutely refused to hold off on career and a life, to find a husband to take care of me. That would’ve been the biggest mistake of my life and I would’ve missed opportunity until who knows when?

I’ve been through a lot that brought me to a state of fear back then, and then one day I refused to live in fear.  That’s a whole other story.  I chose to take risks in exchange for freedom.  But anyways, I did live in a very dangerous city where a few “interesting” things happened (that’s also a whole other– few stories as well).

Anyways, I can relate to Noor… the pressure to not do this and not do that, to be a good girl, to not hang out with guys because I’d look like a “whore” in the Asian community, and to not dishonor the family and such is enough to make any girl to feel suffocated and potentially go insane.  I heard Japan has one of the highest female suicide rate due to the pressures put on girls.  It’s never how a girl should have to live, the stigma of just being a girl.  We are humans. Life is short. Let us be free from all these rules and chains around us and let live.

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