More results from our *fun* survey on gender inequality among South Asian women

Published by anna kaur on

As a refresher, we ran a simple survey with 8 questions. In a previous post, I discussed (and probably ranted about) the results, where many South Asian women told us about how they had been expected to do (or not do) certain things because of their lowly lady status.

Well today, you’re in for another treat. We’ll be looking at the results of two questions in the same survey that related to how South Asian women are valued compared to South Asian men.

Similar to last time, I’ll give the spiel on our data:

*Data Disclaimer*

This was an informal, non-scientific survey carried out mainly in Canada (largely in the GTA and Vancouver), with about 10% participation from people in the US and UK. There were 100 respondents, from ages 14 to 35.

There’s tons more work that needs to be done as our sample size is relatively tiny, but we still feel these results are interesting and worth talking about.

So with that, let’s dive into…

The value of women in the (mainly Canadian) South Asian community

We asked two pretty straightforward questions on this subject, but what was remarkable was that in addition to a yes/no answer, a lot of girls added details in a free-text field. There were TONS of more detailed responses about many ways in which a lot of them had felt devalued compared to the men in their lives. The two questions we asked were:

1. Have you ever felt of lesser value than your South Asian male counterparts?

2. Have you ever seen men or boys being favoured over women or girls?

Here are the results…y’all know I love my pie charts:

So 78% of the respondents said they HAD at some point felt of lesser value than South Asian males, and 96% (!!!) said they had seen men or boys being favoured over women or girls. They may not be surprising numbers, but they certainly don’t make me happy.

Things get interesting when we look more closely at what a lot of girls said this has looked like in their own lives. I’ll start with a tally of some of the things we heard repeatedly:

  • 16 girls talked about how they weren’t able to go out as much as the boys, or at all
  • 15 mentioned that they couldn’t stay out late like the boys
  • 11 said they weren’t allowed to see their friends or, in some cases, to even have friends
  • 8 girls mentioned restrictions on how they were allowed to dress
  • 6 girls talked about not being allowed to date, sometimes despite pressure to find someone to marry
  • 3 girls mentioned that:
    • They were not allowed to travel
    • Their education was not a priority
    • Their career opportunities were restricted
    • There was concern that they would bring shame to the family
  • 2 girls said that:
    • They weren’t allowed to see guys (even if they were friends)
    • They weren’t allowed to drink openly
    • People in their families/extended families made frequent negative comments about their appearance

Also, most girls mentioned how these restrictions were not placed on the men; they were just a little treat for the ladies.

Fellow South Asian ladies, we’re basically comic books.

So, imagine you’re a collector of things. Comic books, Pokéman cards, cars, stamps, coins, beanie babies, Nintendo video games from the 90s—whatever. If you know you might want to sell the stuff in your collection one day, you’ll want to get the most money for it that you possibly can when that day comes. So what do you do?

Well, you’d keep it in *mint* condition, of course!

Never used, never touched. No oily fingerprints, no scratches or tears or stains, no dust in the cartridge, no rust. If it’s minty fresh, it’s worth a fortune. And the more wear and tear, the less you’ll get. If your dog peed on it or your cousin used it to hit his sister in the face, you’ll get nothing. So how does one keep a thing in mint condition to maximize its value?

You’d want to seal it in an airtight container, never let anyone touch it, and keep it neatly stashed away on a shelf, or in a box, or in the garage. It’s an object whose value is proportional to how shiny and new it looks.

Just. Like. Us.

But in this case, the South Asian girl is not being sold, she’s being married off. And the more new and shiny she is, the more she’s worth, and the more impressive she is to prospects. She’s more likely to snag one of those high-earning boys. So how do you keep this particular item in *mint* condition?

Well, through all the ways in which our respondents mentioned they were restricted; not letting her travel, go out, see friends, date, drink, dress how she wants, be educated, have a career…these restrictions are all ways of keeping her sealed, untainted, and pure.

In a future post, I’m going to talk more about this and break it down. Stay tuned!



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