Grrr, I really really hate the backbiting and slandering that is so prevalent in my culture, especially from the older generation. Yesterday I went to a dinner event with my friend and her mom, at the house of an acquaintance of theirs. While we were there, some awful old uncle saw me, recognized me, and then called my dad to tell him I was at this event. Say what??! Yes, you heard right. He called my dad. The phone call wasn’t a “oh, it was a nice surprise to see your wonderful daughter” type of call. Rather it was a “why is your daughter at this event without her parents/family – she is a bad daughter who must be up to no good to be here” type of call. This upsets me so much. Who does that? I have a few heated comments to make before I state my reasons for sharing this experience.
First, Mr. Fake “Devout” Paragon of Piety and Unblemished Character, lower your F-ing (excuse my language) gaze. Why are you ogling hijabi women, young enough to be your daughters, when you are at an event where the men and women are deliberately separated? Did you see me trying to check out the men while I made my quick walk past the living room, where all the men were gathered, to get to the dining room? No, I did not. Why? Because I respected that this event called for certain religious behavior, specifically to avoid contact with the opposite gender. I respected your religiosity, and wanted mine to be respected as well. Therefore, if I somehow fell in your line on vision while trying to make a discreet visit to the kitchen, you should have averted your gaze because that is what Islam calls for you, as a Muslim man, to do in the presence of Muslim women, who are not related to you, as a sign of respect. Yes, as a Muslim man, you are held to higher standards than non-Muslim men, by our religion, because you are of the same religion and know what the rules are. This expectation is warranted specially when you put yourself forward as the epitome of pious man.
Second, What type of significant or familial relationship do you have to me that made it necessary for you to make such a phone call? What valid reason do you have for trying to besmirch my character in front of the other guests and consequently, my parents’ name by insinuating some imagined fault on my character for attending an event? Mind your own F-ing business.
Third, This is not the Motherland, where ridiculous traditional standards apply, that define a woman as being from a “bad” family, and one of ill repute if she goes anywhere without a male relative. This is NYC, in the year 2015. I am past my mid-twenties; I don’t need my parents to accompany me to events like I am a 10 year old. I think by this age I can live my life however I want and my parents don’t need to know what I do unless maybe I am off doing drugs or committing a crime.
Fourth, Ugh, you just disgust me. Trying to make your life more exciting by playing the role of a tattle teller is just rude and childish.
I decided to share this experience because this is not the first time I have experienced someone trying to slander me and I have many friends who have experienced the same. Often the slandering is done by people with very traditional mindsets, who harbor some sort of antagonism towards the person’s family that dates back by several generations, or some other stupid reason. Sometimes it’s jealousy. Sometimes it’s just pure maliciousness for the sake of it. I don’t know what all the motivations are that drives people to make slanderous comments. That is not the point. The point is that such awful behavior needs to stop.
There are so many people creating difficult situations for others by making things up and butting their heads into things they have no place in being. It’s hurtful, damaging to one’s reputation, and creates division within families. These experiences are especially frustrating for those of my generation who are not very traditional but still cannot sever their ties to the South Asian community, and the rules that govern that community, because of our parents and family. In the South Asian community, your reputation is (unfortunately) everything. Even the hint of a whisper of something “bad” (rolling my eyes ugh) can be damaging because everyone knows everyone, and the gossip spreads like wildfire. And it is especially damaging to the reputation of unmarried women. Why? Because when it comes time to get married, the first thing your prospective in-laws will do is ferret out if there are any hints of blemishes on your reputation. And who does this affect the most? The parents and the family name. Oh the shame, the shame! (More rolling eyes).
While I couldn’t care less about what others think of me, I know the family reputation matters to my parents. Out of respect for my parents and their traditional beliefs, I don’t want someone besmirching my character in the community to indirectly embarrass my parents. If you have something to say about me, be a mature adult, and say it to my face. Don’t try to shame my family name with your slander. Otherwise, the next time I see you, I don’t care what people say, I will give you a piece of my mind, loud and clear.