Being a Delhite with Keralite roots, this was what was told to me since childhood, to be an idyllic, moralistic emblem of dumbness (not by my parents but uncles, aunts and witless well wishers for that is the norm amidst Keralites). Essentially that means that you're expected to be a mindless mouth piece for the men in your life. Whatever is told to you, must be taken with a pinch of salt.
And the society sees you as an idealistic image, who has to strive beyond her capacity to curtail herself and her dreams. She has to mould herself to be a mother and wife and most of all to be a wordless woman. Everything else can follow later, since these roles are indispensable for the salvation of a woman and the acceptance of all these responsibilities substantiate the silence taught to her since childhood . Her suppressed suffocation is like her jewelry. It is seen as something that beautifies her and beatifies her. This is what a Keralite society teaches you if you're a woman. Women are allowed to educate themselves, neither are they killed as fetuses or after birth, but this practice of molding muted maidens out of their women is far beyond the realms of how liberal literacy can make you.
Having had progressive parents gave me the freedom to develop my mind and musings, but what I've sen around me is pathetic. There are fathers and brothers who think for their young girls with the mothers acting as delegates of discipline. That is why girls become introverts who aimlessly acquit themselves to be immaculate images of an ideal Indian woman. And after marriage the husband jumps in, to ask you to silently follow him. I see women in church seeking permission from their husbands before trying to take trivial decisions, for their minds are rusted relics that were never put to use. Our church has no representation of women in the management and affairs of the church, and mostly I grew up seeing and believing that women were only supposed to cook during formal gatherings. This is the Keralite society I was brought up, in the heart of the country!
They do teach their girls, but beyond a level, education should go hand in hand with the roles and responsibilities an Indian woman must assume as a man's wife and a child's mother. A question that was asked when I kept shrugging marriage "Why can't you get married, Phd can happen later also?"
As being a woman gives most of the men and the moral police to mind your matters and your life doesn't stay your own. It becomes a thoroughfare with a "come one come all" signage! This is most typical of all Keralites, considering the women they know, and their lives are received as their responsibility which later may become a role play. And if you do not draw your boundaries to keep away all that infringement, you're headed for troubles that you will never be able to solve without their help, for they will always be there to advice you even without asking!
Now you can imagine how the women in their families might be treated?
When I was asked to be "husband welfare organization" who must learn to cook chicken, I became a feminist! When people dared to laugh at my ambitions and abilities, I became a feminist.! When voicing my rile against sexual harassment in public places and modes of transport was misunderstood as arrogance I became a feminist. When braving to ask for equality at work place, got me brick bats I became a feminist! When being tongue tied against the second class treatment meted out to women in the church was the only peerless pick for me, I became a feminist! When I was told to be a cloistered coward with tolerant thoughts for inequality expressed by elder men and women who didn't matter to me at all, for that was the tradition in the state of Kerala, I became a feminist! I became a feminist when people started valuing me as a body and womb (with the stupid theory of marriageable age) and not as a human who deserved objective opportunities in life, I became a feminist!
I became a "feminist" because I didn't want my soul to die and thus I became a feminist!