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Gimmick Girls

Gimmick Girls

March 30, 2013
Challenges of the young middle class woman in a traditional society.

Once upon a time there was the Great Indian Middle Class (GIMC or the Gimmicks). The Gimmicks formed the majority of the population of India. They watched MTV India, spoke Hinglish, drank Pepsi, and wore blue jeans and kurtas. They also worked hard, took entrance exams, and took care of their parents and grandparents. The Gimmicks were like Turkey (the country, not the bird) - a perfect blend of the East and the West.

The people of Gimmick had sons and daughters. These children grew up studying & watching movies together, confiding their dreams in one another. The boys worked hard. The girls did too. One day, the young Gimmick women suddenly realised that their generation had worked so hard that for the first time, they were at par with and even beyond the boys. These were the young women who now worked in all sectors of the economy as professors, researchers, journalists, doctors, engineers, government employees, media professionals, lawyers, social workers, counselors, you name it. These young women worked just as hard as the boys. They became independent but still came home on time to their families. They earned their money and made chai for their parents. These were the ideal women, professional and domesticated. It was perfect. It was only a matter of time before they were swept off their feet by the man of their dreams and have children like their Gimmick families before them.

So what happened?

The Gimmick boys began to feel insecure because of the girls' achievements. These women expected more out of a relationship than simply being provided a house and clothes and food. They were educated enough to question authority and male chauvinism. They had worked too hard, their parents had encouraged them too much for them to compromise in the way that was the tradition for Indian women.

So the traditional society punished them. The days went by and the well-meaning young Gimmick women watched bewildered as their lesser accomplished sisters swiftly got snagged for marriages and were set on their readymade lives. Men wanted the Gimmick girls as pals, buddies, and even girlfriends because they were modern, cool, and had seen the world. But no one wanted them as wives or mothers of their children. The constant rejections forced the young women to combat their loneliness by trying to make friends with those of the other classes. But the cocktail ways of the upper class were too different. It was another planet altogether. The expectations of those from lower-income backgrounds were equally distressing. The Gimmick parents hadn't gone against the currents of society and invested in their daughters' educations so that the girls would be made to check their opinions at the threshold of their married lives.

Exemplary young women, just as good as men, supporting their families emotionally and sometimes even financially. Broken-hearted young women who unbeknownst to themselves hold the power to change the future of their country, by nurturing strong families and courageous children, their intelligence trickling through generations and changing the course of a future yet to be written. Would a nation lose its most precious asset to foreign communities where these women would not be made to apologise for who their parents had nurtured them into becoming? Will a diaspora miss out on recapturing its rule on the world by not allowing these women to rock its cradles?


  • Chayya
    11.07.13 09:53 PM
    I have just finished reading several of your pieces and it's hard to pick a favourite.
    This one and your piece on skin colour are the ones that particularly moved me.
    I can't help but think that the GIMC women you write about so eloquently could be the driving force for the social shift in gender equality India so desperately needs. Your writing is wonderful, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your pieces and it's been a long time since I read something that I directly have had first hand experience of.
  • Rajpriya
    19.06.13 10:22 PM
    "E raise a child while the woman goes works. Screw mixing the east and the West."

    An Indian raising a child while the woman goes work? When I think of all the things I hear about Indian men, here’s what could really happen.

    The bored Indian man getting worked up would let the child go play outside and SCREW the maid all day long. He could then start a kindergarten at home and work from home full time.
  • AAR
    19.06.13 01:44 PM
    Author is trying to project an image of decent young Indian educated middleclass Women.
    I will tell the politics these women play in my office.
    These types will behave like a little girl with higher ups and good looking and rich prospects in office. But they behave like TV serial MIL with lower designation and first generation small town boy. They harass and insult and ignore them. And try all sort of gimmicks to catch the rich boy. Rich boys are smart, they use these girls for date and have fun and rightly ignore them and go for rich dowry girl for marriage.
    Bottomline - boy or girl both are looking for marrying above them and not willing to settle for below.
  • Khadija
    24.04.13 03:42 AM
    "This gives very little time to really explore what we really want and whom we want to be with..." - I agree with you, Priyanka.
  • Priyanka
    22.04.13 05:10 AM
    Once upon a time very few indian women got to choose a future for themselves much less a husband or a career. If setting a good example means running an efficient house hold and keeping children and family members fed, which then becomes your identity then a series of these things has happened. Your family did not encourage you to go for your dreams and got you married before you could say that you have lived a life before marriage or you were raised programmed to be married off one day and bear children. If you are going to talk about equality then why be bias about a man being able to do a woman's job I. E raise a child while the woman goes works. Screw mixing the east and the West. Indians have a rather romanticized notion about what thecculture is really like. Just because I am a woman and I have a career dose not mean I have to be eternally great full to my parents for letting me work. We don't see our maids being great full for their careers (perhaps because we don't see them as career women only as people who serve us). Indian women also seem to have a count down clock chasing them since birth school, college, job, higher education, a proper career and then marriage as soon as possible to the first compatible suitor that comes along. This gives very little time to really explore what we really want and whom we want to be with because our parents are constantly fretting about what will the neighbours think.
  • Rajpriya
    04.04.13 03:28 PM
    Looks like modern Indian women trying to step into the roles of men have lost their feminine characteristics. Once upon a time Indian women set great examples admired by the rest of the world. Trying to blend the East with West has been the start of all struggles by Indian women to get on in life.

    No Indian man should be against working Indian women. No more child and forced marriages. Dowry system should be made illegal. If Indian women want to marry and have children they need to be at home. No man can ever be a mother to a child.

    Here’s a book written by Danielle Crittenden and a review by Eilzabeth Gleick. The views of these two women may be of great help to modern Indian women to find the happiness that's elusive.

    "If the facts don't fit the theory, Change the facts"
    -Albert Einstein.

    What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us?
    Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman

    When Having It All Is Not Enough
    A commentator on women's issues reckons the cost of the feminist revolution.
  • Jyoti
    03.04.13 06:35 PM
    A beautiful writeup Khadija. No one could have described my thoughts so beautifully. Your article describes the agony we all have faced at some part of our lives. Is there really a way out?
  • Khadija
    03.04.13 11:57 AM
    Harry, I agree with you. I wrote this piece a few years ago when I was in my mid-twenties and was realising that I had to approach things differently because the traditional route was not going to work for women like me. What worked for me was increasing the size of my prospective dating pool. For me that meant considering men outside of my religious, national, and linguistic background. That opened a whole new world for me, and I am happy to say, very soon brought my husband into my life. I see many young women going through what my friends and I did; some of my friends are still going through it. These are changing times for the men and women of India, and new times require new outlooks. That said, looking for someone to marry requires maturity on one's part. I have heard many men complain over the years about how women don't pick good partners. I do believe that Indian women need a lot of guidance about romantic relationships.
  • Rajpriya
    03.04.13 06:33 AM
    Comparing men and women it has been said, regardless of what women want in life a woman would not have the genius for finery if she did not have an instinct to play the secondary role.
  • Shashi
    03.04.13 02:36 AM
    What women want from life is different from what men want. As one gets more successful in life, the urge to pursue the 'wants' gets stronger and there in lies the conflict.
    01.04.13 08:42 PM
    @ Khadija

    You know what happens to those educated middle class young Indian women. But, do you know why? because our society and our tradition runs on male dominated platform, and when you challenge this, you will get crushed or rejected.

    When you are a young man, ego is very important to him, and anybody who matches this in opposite sex is asking for trouble. By the time he realises, having a gimmick is very important trait in a prospective partner, it is too late already and he has married the lesser sister of Gimmick.

    The main reason for him marrying the lesser sister of gimmick is because she will not challenge his authority. Younger men likes this power dominated relationship. It makes them feel important, even tho, this does not add anything to the realtionship.

    The other problem I also realise is this, where educated young women ( I know three of them )look down on the men who are not in the same league. And the one who are in the same league have large ego. Thus will always choose lesser sister to marry.

    So my question is what are you going to do and how will you fix this? I am just curious.

  • Maryann
    31.03.13 02:53 PM
    My thoughts exactly!

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