Guest Post by author De.B. Dubois

Hello all! 

Today, I have a guest post by De.B. Dubois, the author of OTHERNESS: SOULS OF BROWN WOMEN. The recently released book touches a prominent social issue and I do hope it encourages to change our point of views towards brown women. I sincerely thank the author for providing such an in depth opinion with her book and her guest post here.

How can thoughts and beliefs be changed for the brown woman to be accepted equally with others?

The main issue that brown women face in todays society is the structured structure of the Indian& other “brown” societies, where patriarchy and fanaticism being the structuring structure has prepared the non-brown to generalise against the brown-women: breeding, docile, submissive, honour of the family, deity – basically the brown woman is that creature who has been put up on a pedestal;a pedestal that is completely of the society’s making, only to benefit men and to guard their position within our society. A pedestal, – much like a prison – has all the aspects of any small confined space.

In one hand, brown women remain victim of their own submissiveness, on the other hand it is these amicable qualities of politeness, kindness, self-questioning and above all an innate love for family and “socio-cultural” values that make brown women considerably feeble compared to other women of colour and especially the white women. Mind you, I am not saying that other women do not have these qualities, I am simply implying that they know how much of it is to be asserted into their lives; they have a choice of whether or not to assert these qualities in their daily lives. Where as, in comparison, a brown woman would be appalled (or questioning motives) if she is told that she has a choice about how much family time she should give, or having a choice for how much she should tolerate (more about this can be read in my 1st book “The Girl Child”, second edition will be out during Durga Puja).

When a brown woman tries to break free from these dichotomies as imposed by the society, they are often calledby derogatory names. This derogation starts at home – as at – home country, region, society, so called gossip-mongeringfriends and to quite an extent even family. How can one expect to be respected by those from a different culture when at home, the respect is eclipsed by bigotry and/or jealousy?
Yes, jealousy and fear that is generated out of this“jealousy”. E.g.: Believe it or not, there is a reason why Durga is shown with 10 hands – each holding a different object – classic simulacra of a multi-tasking “female” brain. Multi-tasking is a biologically proven trait of women.In comparison to women, men often find this a challenge.Think about it, what do children do as little kids, when they get jealous of someone? Belittle them. Belittling people would create a psychological and verbal environment – where the person being belittled ends up questioning their self-worth and eventually gets to be scared of the oppressor (the jealous kid) and end up being submissive. This is often manifested in stigmatising phrases in heavily patriarchal societies, such as: “ladrkiho key zyadadimagmaatlaga”… “Being a girl don't use your brain too much”... etc.

India is a country where women are asked to accept the in-laws or the family the woman is marrying into as her own and quite literally disregard the family that they were born in. Even with maltreatment, when a girl calls home for help, often the reply from her mother (with best of all intentions in her heart) will be in the line: “you have to learn to adjust, this is your family now. We are the pariahs; so don’t be foolish to leave your comfort, for we won’t take you back. Think about this, when you were young and we’d beat you for discipline, would you have left us? When you were young even we’d raid your privacy to keep you in line, would you have left us? Then don’t leave them. It’s your family. Forget what everyone else says.” (One can read more about this mentality in my book “Nandita”). In the above case, yes, I’ll agree with – “forget what everyone else says.” Just that my context wouldn’t be the same and I wouldn’t agree with the rest of that “child we want the best for you” mentality! For no one knows what is best for any given adult woman.
This is something that can be understood with strength and an open-mind towards self-enrichment. And as a brown-woman myself, I’ll expect and sincerely hope/want any brown-woman to be stronger. With enough intelligence to know the difference between oppression and oppression sugar-coated as concern, plus enough character to take matters in her own hands, and enough novelty to seek self-enrichment through opening up to the possibility that their existence, in this male and pale dominated world, matters. Lives of brown/“coloured” girl-children matter, as much as white girl-children.

We are living in a modern world, in a democratic country – or so I’d like to believe about Modi’sIndia today. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic to expect people to realise that no one has the right to tell women what to do, think or behave.Most important thing is that a brown-woman has to learn to stand up for her own self – for no one else will do it for her. In some cases, not even her biological mother. She has to help herself in order to see change in how people treat her or look at her.
And that is the reason why I do not believe that I can give a solution – for as you can read in the book “Otherness”, I do not have a plan or an answer to how thoughts and beliefs can be changed for the brown woman to be accepted equally with others; however, I do have observations of what kind of thoughts and beliefs make it difficult for the brown woman to be accepted equally. And that is what I wish that my fellow brown-woman would take from this book, and work on.

Written by De.B. Dubois


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