Changes in the Brit-Asian Woman

Over the years women have continued to change roles and step into the shoes of men. Stepping up the ladder towards self-determination and freedom. We are the modern women like it or not.

more Brit-Asian women are living away from home

Men have wanted the woman to play the role on top – literally speaking. Now that they have, they are not exactly being praised for it. Instead they see this as the Brit- Asian woman becoming too independent and too westernised.

Recent news reports, state that women are earning more than men but not necessarily equal to them in position. The woman can also be the breadwinner and still look after her family. Times have changed but women still have to accept their position in life. They are still devoted to the important factors of cultural upbringing, but still want their independence.

A lady listener on an Asian debate on radio said, “Men have to lose their pride and realise that women are equal to them, and can play the roles they play equally well, if not better.”  This was her view on how men should react to Brit-Asian women of today.

Brit-Asian men are brought up with the notion to protect and provide for women. However, women want to make a statement that they can be independent and look after themselves in certain areas of life, such as financial and living status. Not that they don’t need men. They have needed men for centuries, especially, for security, love and companionship and they still need this, even with their independence.

If we look at Brit-Asian women around the 60s, at that time women were not very career orientated. Some were not allowed to pursue a career, as the man would provide for them. Others did not wish to have a career as cultural upbringing meant they were taught that the man was the sole bread-winner.

Having an education in this day and age is considered very important. It gives women the freedom to work, develop ambitions and goals for themselves and earn a status without having to rely on men.

Today, more Brit-Asian women are living away from home, which was only seen as the norm for men. With the new found freedom it allows them to drink and stay out late without having to worry about what their parents say. They can date who they want, with or without the consent of their parents. More sexual freedom has allowed them to date and marry who they want.

Even arranged marriages today consist of dating at some point. Whether it is an introduction through friends or family, or via online dating websites, women are typically allowed to get to know someone before they pursue a relationship. This in the 60s-would not be allowed. Instead, a woman were told who to marry by her parents and the first time she would see her future husband, would be on the wedding day.

In the past, if a woman was to come home and ask to marry her lover, it would mean disgrace to family honour and a high act of disrespect towards the parents and relatives. Something totally unacceptable during that era and in some cases even in today’s strict households.

A young Brit-Asian woman on a related debate said, “Forcing women to do something against their will, even if it is only with regards to clothing, is a thing of the past.”

It is fast becoming the norm that Brit-Asian women of today wish to choose who they marry. The new generation has also moved across the racial gap and are dating and marrying more non-Asians. Racially mixed, cross-caste and cross-religious marriages are no longer taboo as once in the past.

In Eastenders you see Preeya Kalidas, who plays Amira, living on her own. Yet she still keeps her virginity intact, with all the freedom she has. Showing that not all British-Asian women use their freedom for sexual liberation. Being a virgin is the respect and dignity of a woman and still seen the same way by many Brit-Asian women.

However, sex before marriage is now being practised by Brit-Asian woman who have made a concious choice to do so. In the past, this would have been shunned upon and the woman would not be acceptable even for marriage.

Interestingly, many Brit-Asian men still consider it  important that the Brit-Asian woman is a virgin, especially for marriage. Another listener on radio commented,

“As a youngster I can say that some parents just want to pull the wool over their eyes and disregard what their child is doing. But we have to realise it is happening, and it is down to the parent to make sure that their child does not do something that they would be unhappy with however much freedom they have.”

Marriage was seen as something done once by older generations, and women stuck by their man despite marital problems and differences.  Men were the stronger partner in a relationship and the woman accepted the ways of her husband and his family. Giving relationships enough time to mature was common practice because ‘Love’ usually came after the marriage. And most women being non-educated, never deliberated divorce.

However, now, more Brit-Asian marriages are ending in divorce. Divorce is on the rise at a major rate amongst Brit-Asians. The older generations feel the newly found liberty of Brit-Asian women means they now have the right to disagree quickly and take actions to suit themselves. Resulting in many failed marriages, single mothers and many Brit-Asian women having two or more marriages in a lifetime.

As cultural traditions are disappearing so are the values and beliefs practised from the past.  Traditional roles fulfilled by the woman are no longer seen as necessary due to the liberal life being led. For example, less and less young Brit-Asian women are learning to cook or can cook as good as their mothers or grandmothers. Something once seen as a necessity to survive in a marital home. This also includes other domestic skills like sewing and suit-making. The expectancy of men to become domesticated and share chores in the home is a requirement on the marital check list of the new Brit-Asian woman.

Dress sense has dramatically changed too. Brit-Asian woman are wearing more liberal clothes by choice. Mini skirts and short dresses are a typical attire for club nights. Ethnic wear is more worn at parties, weddings and functions than it is at home. Also, fashion of ethnic wear is trying to make East meets West in designs to appeal to the modern South Asian woman. Conversely, many young Brit-Asian women are still choosing to wear clothes that are more conservative to reflect their beliefs and culture like hijabs and turbans.

The Brit-Asian woman has become successful and independent. Has adopting Western culture made an impact on the way the Brit-Asian woman has changed over-time? Has family life changed due to the change in Brit-Asian women? Do they no longer need men to depend on in the future? Is this selfish or is it what Brit-Asian women needed to advance into the 21st century? Are you a Brit-Asian woman who is enjoying her independence or are you a man who feels equality will never be possible?

Nazhat is an ambitious 'Desi' woman with interests in news and lifestyle. As a writer with a determined journalistic flair, she firmly believes in the motto "an investment in knowledge pays the best interest," by Benjamin Franklin.