Girls are often told that they have no individuality. They are told that they are very impressionable or snootily told that they are sensitive. They take on qualities of everyone they hang out with, everything they watch, hear or read. In short they have no agency either. They are often credited with having not even an ounce of individuality. They could not have possibly thought of something all by themselves.
Even this thought of being thought of as less than intelligent is supposedly something they have learnt from someone else. Or is easily dismissed as self victimisation that they might have picked off TV or internet groups. They have no complaints, really. On occasions, this probably helps them. If they commit any transgression, it can be happily blamed on their non thinking selves and for having borrowed it from an external force.
I am thinking, maybe, this is the root of women’s problems. As girls, they are denied the opportunity to find their voice, or when found, easily dismissed as crass borrowings of a more (mis)enlightened (if there is such a thing) mind.
There is an easy comradeship between sons and mothers, which is diffused in moments of extreme tension. Tension arising out of who holds more power. As a mother, she, indeed, has power, but counter that with ‘received power’ as a result of male privilege and mythical tales of male superiority and that myth getting patronage from variedly, but singularly interpreted religious texts, the son also thinks of himself as holding power, if not equivalent to the father’s, at least as power only next to the patriarchal male head of the family.
In the midst of untangling (or not) these nuanced, power negotiated relationships, a girl wades her way through small accomplishments of having the power to say no to more food or growing her hair long.
Contestation within family is desirable only when initiated by the male.