This entire train of thought was set into motion by a conversation I had with this guy. For convenience sake, we shall call him Tom, who by the way is most definitely not a friend, and is more of an acquaintance that I’m unable to alienate completely for the sole reason that he is in my university.

During one such interaction, our conversation took a few weird twists and turns and it somehow ended up with him saying “If I had a daughter I would slap her”. No, I do not recall anything before or after that, it’s that one particular line that stayed in my head because not only did it offend me, it deeply angered me and I’ll be honest in that moment I probably wanted to slap him. Now some might say that I’m overreacting and some might say, why didn’t I? I’ll explain the former part in a bit.

But for now, let’s deal with the latter part being as to why I didn’t bother correcting him in that moment. It shouldn’t be surprising but that wasn’t the first time he’d uttered something offensive. He’d done it multiple times before and I doubt he even realises how wrong he is because he is so self absorbed and he assumes that he is right and nope, I did not have the opportunity to correct him because he is the type of guy who barely allows you to utter ten words before interrupting you and carrying on the conversation. On multiple occasions I tried explaining but it was pointless. So that day I didn’t even bother trying because I knew he would dismiss it as “I was just joking” or “Why are you being so serious” or something utterly ridiculous of that sort. That being said, that was the final straw for me so I made sure to distance myself away from him and our interactions dwindled down to pretty much basic hellos and goodbyes.

Back to the point where some might have thought that I’m overreacting. According to me, there is always an ounce of some sort of truth behind every word, joke, & statement that escapes from one’s mouth. And saying something as mortifying as “I would slap my daughter” in the context of little things like being lazy or waking up late or not cooking is most definitely not right. I’m not saying it’s right if it’s on a major scale. It’s just not right. And I’m not saying this only because of the whole feminism and the men cannot raise hands on women and all those reasons. No. It’s personal. I’ve observed throughout my not so long existence as to how it’s affected and broken people in ways that most of the time they never come back from it.

When a father begins to slap his daughter from a very young age whenever she commits a mistake, rather than merely reprimanding her or teaching her what not to do and guiding her in the right way, it gets embedded in the child’s mind. As she grows up, she is used to being slapped by her father whenever she says or does something wrong and many a times, especially in my culture, the father thinks he is doing the right thing because he is instilling values in his daughter. (Yeah, we’re not discussing how twisted that mindset is because I’d probably need to write ten different blog posts to merely explore that alone.)

She grows up. She gets married and now when her husband either physically or verbally abuses her, she’s okay with it. It hurts her, but she says nothing because this is what she considers to be normal since childhood. She thinks she deserves it because after all she was the one who committed the mistake. The irony in this situation is that when the father gets to know about this, some of them have the nerve to be offended and enraged at the husband and even tell the daughter to leave that man. Do you think she leaves her husband? Almost never. Why? Because despite the fact that she is a grown woman and there is logic screaming at the back of her mind, she also cannot fathom the hypocrisy of the fact that her father is agitated by the fact that her husband is doing the exact same thing he’s done since she was a child, and for a split second, even if she considers leaving, what is the difference anyway, whether she’s with her husband or her father, she gets beaten up either way. (Now when I say beaten up, I don’t mean abuse on a daily basis. I mean being slapped or hurt if/when the girl does something that her husband/father deems to be wrong and this usually happens a few times a year.)

So she stays. She has a family with the man who claims to love her, provides her food, clothing, shelter and all the basic amenities. Beats her on a irregular basis, which she justifies as error on her part and continues living with the mental trauma that’s forever buried in her mind. Then comes the point where they have children, who in turn watch this and assume this is normal. The cycle that was set into motion when her father slapped her and she thought it was normal, continues as her children assume it is normal and they take it forward. When she has a daughter, when the girl grows up, albeit the fact her own father never laid a hand on her, she thinks it’s okay for her partner to either physically or verbally abuse her, for after all didn’t she grow up watching her mother go through this and bear all of it in silence. And if she has a son, the boy grows up thinking it’s okay to beat women because he’s seen his dad “correct” his mom. This cycle continues until someone down the line dares to break free from it.

I’m not saying that this is the scenario in every household in my culture and neither am I saying this is solely restricted to my culture. There are few variables. The genders could be swapped in this story with the cycle beginning with a mother beating her son. The scenarios and the people are constantly different but the basic gist of what sets such a cycle in motion is pretty much the same in almost every corner of the world.

So, am I overreacting to a so called joke about fathers slapping daughters? You tell me.

~Azraa. R

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