Since mama (my grandma) moved in about 6 months ago, things at home have been a little tense at times to say the least. In a nut shell, it’s all do with my previous posts on ‘Cultural Traitor or Cultural Hybrid?’ and the second ‘Cultural Traitor or Cultural Hybrid? Continued…’ and how there is an unwritten and non-negotiable rule for women to continue the cultural traditions more so than men. There is such a strong and unwavering onus on women to be the torchbearers of their respective cultures and traditions and men, as long as they speak the language are pretty much free to do as they wish. This isn’t about women vs. men; on the contrary this is about women’s freedom and choice to do be able to be whoever they want indeed are without the fear of judgement and scorn from their own cultural communities. Obviously, I have no issue with women being the torchbearers of their communities because actually that role is so fundamentally important in terms of the status and respect of women. I do however, have an issue with the lack of manoeuvrability in terms of being able to have both cultural roots and a Western upbringing and allowing them to come together in a brilliant melting pot of cultures and ideals to culminate ultimately as second, third, fourth generation British South Asians (or indeed wherever you are from ethnically).
Returning back to my premise, mama has been living with us for a while now and it is tense and somewhat difficult at times because she is very traditional when it comes to culture. She would much rather have me wearing salwaar kameeze then my usual of jeans and hoodies and whatever else I feel comfortable in. She has no issue with me wearing Western clothes outside the house but when I am home she would rather me wear South Asian traditional dress. I do wear traditional dress when I want to and indeed when there are special occasions. I’m even experimenting with my new found hashtag of ‘#QueeringAsianDress’ to bring the melting pot of East and West to incorporate dress.
Last night, I was in the kitchen and my mum came in ranting a little about how I should be able to wear what I want to and how it’s silly to continually go on and on about the way I dress. In short, I found an unlikely advocate in someone that I didn’t think would be sticking up for me. I know it sounds silly to say because she’s my mum but we don’t agree on many things from politics to religion and culture and so it took me aback when she was saying those things and defending my corner.
It was a little strange hearing my mum defend my corner to say the least but it was pleasantly heart-warming to say the least. It made me realise once again that I really should cut my mum some slack and think twice before arguing with her about some unimportant and mundane thing that really does not need to be argued about because if truth be told, given how rather traditional or actually, rather backwards my family are, it’s amazing that my mum is so liberal. I mean, out of everyone in my family she was the only person I felt I could (eventually) come out to and whilst she may not agree with my views on some things she certainly in no way hinders my right to say them or indeed pursue my activism within them.
In short, my mum is my brilliant and unlikely advocate.