Retaining Control, Negotiating Roles: Diasporic Women and their Parents
Part 2 of 4. Are you a bad girl?
Are you a good girl? You know what we mean: you listen to your parents, there’s no gossip about you in the “community.” Or are you a bad girl? Were you caught smoking in high school? Did you marry that white boy against your parents’ wishes? This is part one of a four part series about “Mama Says Good Girls Marry Doctors”.
Post #2; Clarifying what we’re NOT saying.
Now that we’ve clarified what this blog is about, let’s clarify what this blog is NOT about. We are NOT about rebelling against culture, religion, parents or heritage. I think this surprises many people. Often people fear that as different immigrant cultures move to multicultural societies that the culture would be diluted. This results in a large fear that the clash of values between women and their families emphasizes this dilution and the disappearance of our heritage.
The two values which clash are both equally important and valuable but people may be forced to choose one over the other. These situations frequently come up in immigrant cultures as families often need to renegotiate their values in a new setting. For example, the Chinese culture have certain favourite types of food which may be seen as strange or unappetizing from outsiders and as a result they may be harder to find these types of food or may not be accessible. The clashing of these two values also can come up in a more intense situation when daughters are at important parts of their lives such as career choices and partner choices.
On one side represents the value of heritage. Cultures are deemed having the right to practice their religion and cultural heritage. Often in diaspora cultures, practicing these cultural heritages are an important symbol of keeping the community together and remembering a set of values which may be unique. Frequently as diaspora cultures may feel under attack from the host cultures, these values are more important than ever to keep alive, for fear of them being swept away and diluted.
On the other hand, sometimes the responsibilities for these cultural values are largely held on women and they may influence her decisions for a career, and future partners. Though understanding that these responsibilities are also held by men, there are differences between men and women in this respect.
The clashing of these values is a regular occurrence in every young person’s life, only it can be emphasized within immigrant cultures. There is no right path or decision. The problem is that EVERYONE has an opinion about it. For example, France is contemplating banning the Niqab. The Islamic culture has an opinion of women wearing the traditional dress but it is opposed by the French government as it makes people feel uncomfortable.
What’s your opinion? On one hand, young women of coloured are considered spoiled brats for wanting things that may not be culturally appropriate, on the other can we really justify a culture which oppresses women from being an active part in moulding their own values?
Stay tune next week for Part 3 where we go through one woman’s story.