Punjabi Sikh Women And The City

3_girl_movies.jpgAbout a week ago, Sex And The City (SATC) hit theaters. Many may resist an association with the dating scene that the movie and show explored with the lives of Punjabi Sikh women, and wonder whether this is appropriate for The Langar Hall. But the stories and characters of SATC reflect broad ideas that apply to all women and since every woman I know has seen or is planning to see the movie, I’m curious about how these themes apply to Punjabi Sikh women in particular and how our experiences compare with other groups. This post does not promote anything portrayed in SATC, but instead explores the stereotypes in the characters and questions how our Punjabi-Sikh-ness affects how much of those stereotypes we embrace. First, what is SATC really about?

the three-girls-in-the-city movie… a cinematic staple since the 1920s, has been an unusually enduring and lucrative one, exploiting each succeeding era’s anxieties surrounding women’s changing roles and helping define those eras’ new ideas of modern life. In them, audiences can watch women negotiate and sometimes subvert the forces that limn and limit their choices. [link]

In each era, the three-girls-in-the-city movie asks the same questions, as does ‘Sex and the City’ and 1953′s ‘How to Marry a Millionaire pictured above (Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall also in Manhattan):

To give in to lust or wait for love? To cash in on one’s sexuality or remain pure? To marry or to pursue a career? (By Hollywood’s rules, they’re almost always mutually exclusive.) [link]

Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha represent the roles that have traditionally been allotted to women since the early 20th century, and Carrie represents a combination of the others who are archetypes of the three-girls movie -Miranda, the practical, self-sufficient career woman; Charlotte, the virginal innocent; Samantha, the older, sexually uninhibited temptress. [link]

The storyline of each of the characters is interesting in its judgment of the character- the ending that is meted out to her. SATC has progressed from past movies of this genre and become kinder towards women who aren’t as virtuous or marriage-minded as Charlotte, though even in today’s incarnation, Charlotte is the only character who seems to have no real problem or threat of unhappiness. But still, without giving away the ending, Hollywood seems to have softened up a bit towards women who choose to have a career.

Miranda would have been the independent, feisty good sport who would die unmarried and alone. Charlotte would be the virtuous girl who would marry for love and receive unexpected riches in return (okay, that story line hasn’t changed). And incorrigible Samantha would be the girl who would plunge off a fire escape or penthouse balcony in punishment for her sexually wanton ways. [link]

SATC is about what women want, and not being afraid to want it. As Punjabi- Sikh women, culture and religion play a role in molding what we do, and what we want and most of us probably don’t relate completely to the women in SATC. Even if there are women who lead lives similar to those in SATC, they certainly wouldn’t disclose this to their families or community members because conversation about relationships is severely limited by notions that a woman’s honor might be tainted. Yet, even though what we want and what we do might differ from the women of SATC, the idea of not being afraid to want or do, is what resonates.


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66 Responses to “Punjabi Sikh Women And The City”

  1. I have seen a few episodes of this show and I think it is one of the most immoral shows I've ever seen in my life. Of course my morals are different than others, so I'm sure many disagree with me.

    It is not the "sexual freedom" that I consider immoral. It is the promotion of using sex as a means to achieve material gain, which I find completely immoral. It is such a disgusting notion which gains nothing for women. Prostitution is the oldest profession it is not a new form of empowerment. Even the "virginal" character has had a fair share of sexual partnerships and "flings." I don't see any virtue in this show whatsoever.

    I wish they would make a show which depicts women using their intellect and their grace/divinity to advance welfare for all (sarbat da bhalla). It's not just the sexual exploitation of women which I find immoral it is the wanton consumerism which is celebrated as a feminine trait in this and many other shows. Shoe shopping and sex talk is such a waste of time in comparison to righteous actions/Dharmic living.

    I honestly feel sorry for all the women who have no better than this show or movie as a means to explore the ideas and actions associated with relationships and sex.

    Also I feel inspired and honored by all the Sikh women who use their grace and divinity to present their "modern" femininity rather than their bodies and their cunningness. Such women will ensure the future of humanity.

    • Just Me says:

      Some of the most cunning women I have known are Punjabi Sikh women, so not quite sure what you are trying to say here. Maybe they are so cunning that you missed it.

  2. I have seen a few episodes of this show and I think it is one of the most immoral shows I’ve ever seen in my life. Of course my morals are different than others, so I’m sure many disagree with me.
    It is not the “sexual freedom” that I consider immoral. It is the promotion of using sex as a means to achieve material gain, which I find completely immoral. It is such a disgusting notion which gains nothing for women. Prostitution is the oldest profession it is not a new form of empowerment. Even the “virginal” character has had a fair share of sexual partnerships and “flings.” I don’t see any virtue in this show whatsoever.
    I wish they would make a show which depicts women using their intellect and their grace/divinity to advance welfare for all (sarbat da bhalla). It’s not just the sexual exploitation of women which I find immoral it is the wanton consumerism which is celebrated as a feminine trait in this and many other shows. Shoe shopping and sex talk is such a waste of time in comparison to righteous actions/Dharmic living.
    I honestly feel sorry for all the women who have no better than this show or movie as a means to explore the ideas and actions associated with relationships and sex.
    Also I feel inspired and honored by all the Sikh women who use their grace and divinity to present their “modern” femininity rather than their bodies and their cunningness. Such women will ensure the future of humanity.

    • Just Me says:

      Some of the most cunning women I have known are Punjabi Sikh women, so not quite sure what you are trying to say here. Maybe they are so cunning that you missed it.

  3. Suki says:

    If there was a Punjabi Sex in the City. It would show the Punjabi girls wearing jocking pants and telling there parents to libary to study on a friday night, when they are really going out for the night.

    The sad thing in 2008 in the Punjabi community is. You could have 2 punjabi families. One which has a girl that is ivy league educated and another who has a son who is a drug dealing gangester. Yet if the girl did something crazy like get drunk one night. Her family would be looked down upon more then the boys family despite his thug lifestyle. The sexism and the double standard in the punjabi community I see today is very sad.

    I wonder if that reason that successful western punjabi women like Parminder Nagra, Daljit Dhaliwal, Simran Sethi among others end with non-punjabi men cause they don’t want to deal with the sexism in the punjabi culture.

  4. Suki says:

    If there was a Punjabi Sex in the City. It would show the Punjabi girls wearing jocking pants and telling there parents to libary to study on a friday night, when they are really going out for the night.

    The sad thing in 2008 in the Punjabi community is. You could have 2 punjabi families. One which has a girl that is ivy league educated and another who has a son who is a drug dealing gangester. Yet if the girl did something crazy like get drunk one night. Her family would be looked down upon more then the boys family despite his thug lifestyle. The sexism and the double standard in the punjabi community I see today is very sad.

    I wonder if that reason that successful western punjabi women like Parminder Nagra, Daljit Dhaliwal, Simran Sethi among others end with non-punjabi men cause they don’t want to deal with the sexism in the punjabi culture.

  5. Reema says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    I feel inspired and honored by all the Sikh women who use their grace and divinity to present their “modern” femininity rather than their bodies and their cunningness.

    It’s wonderful that Sikh women are inspiring you, in whatever way they are, though I don't really understand what you mean by “modern” femininity. As a side note though- what disturbs you about cunningness?

    Your opinion about the show is understandable- I neither love it nor hate it so I don't really have a desire to defend the show itself to you other than to say that if all you see is "shoe shopping and sex talk" then you haven't understood why it's been such a hit with women (which was one of the points of this post). There are few things that unify American women (even of a similar social ‘status’), and SATC has been one of them over the past few years (at least for a certain social/economic class), and it's NOT because of the superficial aspects that you criticize. And while I have no problem criticizing the show, it's important to understand why it's been so popular.

    Shoe shopping and sex talk is such a waste of time in comparison to righteous actions/Dharmic living.

    You're right, "dharmic actions" would probably be create more good than watching a tv show. But in this vein, most tv is a waste of time… but everyone watches it anyway, and you may as well condemn all tv-watchers who watch over-sexualized shows/movies (which means 99% of what Hollywood comes up with). So unless you're condemning everyone who watches pointless tv, I'm not sure I understand your criticism.

    What I find objectionable is the moral high ground you stake:

    I honestly feel sorry for all the women who have no better than this show or movie as a means to explore the ideas and actions associated with relationships and sex.

    You may not mean to sound arrogant, but… that sounded arrogant (I'm not claiming that you actually are arrogant- I don't know you, just referring to this statement). If you were referring to something women were actually suffering from, we wouldn't want your pity.

    I don’t know if there are too many women who have only this show for exploring their concerns, but it has been one avenue. But just because people choose one avenue, doesn't mean they have no other, or that the one is the only one exercised.

  6. Reema says:

    Prabhu Singh,

    I feel inspired and honored by all the Sikh women who use their grace and divinity to present their modern femininity rather than their bodies and their cunningness.

    Its wonderful that Sikh women are inspiring you, in whatever way they are, though I don’t really understand what you mean by modern femininity. As a side note though- what disturbs you about cunningness?

    Your opinion about the show is understandable- I neither love it nor hate it so I don’t really have a desire to defend the show itself to you other than to say that if all you see is “shoe shopping and sex talk” then you haven’t understood why it’s been such a hit with women (which was one of the points of this post). There are few things that unify American women (even of a similar social status), and SATC has been one of them over the past few years (at least for a certain social/economic class), and it’s NOT because of the superficial aspects that you criticize. And while I have no problem criticizing the show, it’s important to understand why it’s been so popular.

    Shoe shopping and sex talk is such a waste of time in comparison to righteous actions/Dharmic living.

    You’re right, “dharmic actions” would probably be create more good than watching a tv show. But in this vein, most tv is a waste of time… but everyone watches it anyway, and you may as well condemn all tv-watchers who watch over-sexualized shows/movies (which means 99% of what Hollywood comes up with). So unless you’re condemning everyone who watches pointless tv, I’m not sure I understand your criticism.

    What I find objectionable is the moral high ground you stake:

    I honestly feel sorry for all the women who have no better than this show or movie as a means to explore the ideas and actions associated with relationships and sex.

    You may not mean to sound arrogant, but… that sounded arrogant (I’m not claiming that you actually are arrogant- I don’t know you, just referring to this statement). If you were referring to something women were actually suffering from, we wouldn’t want your pity.

    I dont know if there are too many women who have only this show for exploring their concerns, but it has been one avenue. But just because people choose one avenue, doesn’t mean they have no other, or that the one is the only one exercised.

  7. Reema says:

    The sexism and the double standard in the punjabi community I see today is very sad.

    Suki,

    Your acknowledgment of the double standard is totally appreciated and your example is right on. In fact, the girl could come home at midnight without having touched a mind/body-altering substance of any sort and still be considered to have committed some major transgression. It may be an issue of control.

  8. Reema says:

    The sexism and the double standard in the punjabi community I see today is very sad.

    Suki,

    Your acknowledgment of the double standard is totally appreciated and your example is right on. In fact, the girl could come home at midnight without having touched a mind/body-altering substance of any sort and still be considered to have committed some major transgression. It may be an issue of control.

  9. Prabhu Singh says:

    Reema Ji, you're right tv watching in general is mostly a waste of time. I chose to criticize this show, because that's what this post is about.

    It seems you're reading into my post a lot more than what is there or what was intended. Cunningness doesn't disturb me, but I'm sure if you've read the Charitro Pakhiyan by our father Guru Gobind Singh, you know that cunningness between the sexes can be extremely destructive.

    I wasn't offering my pity to others, I just feel sorry that some women watch this show and think it is reality. I've seen too many women get hurt with a false sense of "empowerment." By that I mean, women who believe acting like unconscious men is a sense of empowerment rather than an aping of low-lifes. Just because a man has no compassion or grace and "conquers" others by sleeping with them, doesn't mean it is something to imitate or celebrate. A woman is 16 times more powerful and more sensitive than a man, she has the capacity to raise and nurture a family and a nation and the world. Her divine creative power, the power to give life, is not a light hearted matter.

    It's strange that my sense of compassion for women suffering has been interpreted as something which is arrogant. I also feel sorry for men who watch this show and think that such behavior is normal. Sex is a union of two souls, the divine act which brings life to this earth. This show cheapens any deeper spiritual meaning which most societies knew at some point. It's not something meant to over-stimulate our nervous systems and get us addicted and turn us into neurotic head cases. What I've seen of this show, it is a celebration of modern neuroses.

    Reema Ji, with all due respect, I could just as easily accuse you of arrogance for telling me that it is "important to understand why it’s been so popular." As if I don't understand, or couldn't understand. I never studied psychology, but I understand basic human nature. I fully understand why it's popular, but discussing that would open a different can of worms. I'll say one thing, it's not popular for it's celebration of moral values or righteous living.

    It is with the highest respect for women that I would caution any one about the messages sent by this TV show. I hope that all men and women realize someday that women are not cheap and deserve way better than the treatment that they usually receive. This show demonstrates a false sense of empowerment and a destructive lifestyle as does most television. Women deserve way better than to be treated as objects of desire or targets of consumeristic hysteria.

    The cheapness of sex and neuroses which this show celebrates is disgusting, but the main reason it is so opposed to my personal morals is that I hold charity and seva as extremely high values. I consider consumerism like a disease upon society, something to be careful of, not to celebrate. Consumerism is the opposite of charity. This show almost never displayed people of modest means or even people of different ethnicities or cultures. It is wonder bread drugged with neuroses and fed to the masses as intelligent, modern, and empowering.

    I don't buy it and if you think I'm sexist for criticizing this show, you really don't know the first thing about me. My Mataji raised me to respect women and I think this show degrades women, so I wrote a critique.

    Pritam Bhagauti Simar Kai…

    Let us always remember the beloved primal feminine power of God and show utmost reverence.

    Sat Naam.

  10. Prabhu Singh says:

    P.S. sharing my morals and opinions doesn't put me on a moral high ground. It's just me sharing.

    I'm only on a high ground if you feel lower for disagreeing with my morals.

  11. Mewa Singh says:

    A woman is 16 times more powerful and more sensitive than a man,

    I always thought woman is the square root of the 34th prime number more sensitive than man. (11.79, remember 1 is not a prime number)

  12. Prabhu Singh says:

    Reema Ji, you’re right tv watching in general is mostly a waste of time. I chose to criticize this show, because that’s what this post is about.
    It seems you’re reading into my post a lot more than what is there or what was intended. Cunningness doesn’t disturb me, but I’m sure if you’ve read the Charitro Pakhiyan by our father Guru Gobind Singh, you know that cunningness between the sexes can be extremely destructive.
    I wasn’t offering my pity to others, I just feel sorry that some women watch this show and think it is reality. I’ve seen too many women get hurt with a false sense of “empowerment.” By that I mean, women who believe acting like unconscious men is a sense of empowerment rather than an aping of low-lifes. Just because a man has no compassion or grace and “conquers” others by sleeping with them, doesn’t mean it is something to imitate or celebrate. A woman is 16 times more powerful and more sensitive than a man, she has the capacity to raise and nurture a family and a nation and the world. Her divine creative power, the power to give life, is not a light hearted matter.
    It’s strange that my sense of compassion for women suffering has been interpreted as something which is arrogant. I also feel sorry for men who watch this show and think that such behavior is normal. Sex is a union of two souls, the divine act which brings life to this earth. This show cheapens any deeper spiritual meaning which most societies knew at some point. It’s not something meant to over-stimulate our nervous systems and get us addicted and turn us into neurotic head cases. What I’ve seen of this show, it is a celebration of modern neuroses.
    Reema Ji, with all due respect, I could just as easily accuse you of arrogance for telling me that it is “important to understand why its been so popular.” As if I don’t understand, or couldn’t understand. I never studied psychology, but I understand basic human nature. I fully understand why it’s popular, but discussing that would open a different can of worms. I’ll say one thing, it’s not popular for it’s celebration of moral values or righteous living.
    It is with the highest respect for women that I would caution any one about the messages sent by this TV show. I hope that all men and women realize someday that women are not cheap and deserve way better than the treatment that they usually receive. This show demonstrates a false sense of empowerment and a destructive lifestyle as does most television. Women deserve way better than to be treated as objects of desire or targets of consumeristic hysteria.
    The cheapness of sex and neuroses which this show celebrates is disgusting, but the main reason it is so opposed to my personal morals is that I hold charity and seva as extremely high values. I consider consumerism like a disease upon society, something to be careful of, not to celebrate. Consumerism is the opposite of charity. This show almost never displayed people of modest means or even people of different ethnicities or cultures. It is wonder bread drugged with neuroses and fed to the masses as intelligent, modern, and empowering.
    I don’t buy it and if you think I’m sexist for criticizing this show, you really don’t know the first thing about me. My Mataji raised me to respect women and I think this show degrades women, so I wrote a critique.
    Pritam Bhagauti Simar Kai…
    Let us always remember the beloved primal feminine power of God and show utmost reverence.
    Sat Naam.

  13. Prabhu Singh says:

    P.S. sharing my morals and opinions doesn’t put me on a moral high ground. It’s just me sharing.
    I’m only on a high ground if you feel lower for disagreeing with my morals.

  14. Mewa Singh says:

    A woman is 16 times more powerful and more sensitive than a man,

    I always thought woman is the square root of the 34th prime number more sensitive than man. (11.79, remember 1 is not a prime number)

  15. Sundari says:

    Prabhu Singh Ji: While I appreciate (what I think is) your gesture of protection for Sikh women, your comments are problematic. Reema's post is not simply about whether or not SATC is [im]moral, but rather why it is that most women (including Punjabi Sikh women) enjoy and yes, can relate to the show. Now, while many Punjabi Sikh women may not use a similar vehicle of expression as say, Samantha Jones, we can perhaps relate to her desire and need to be defined the way she wants to be defined. She owns her actions and by doing so, defines herself rather than being defined by the society in which she functions.

    The theme of "empowerment" than runs throughout the show and something you bring up in your comments, is not simply empowerment through the freedom of sexual expression (that parallel is too simplistic) – but rather the empowerment of living within the confines of your community and your society and yet still being independent, strong (and yes, even religious/spiritual) women.

    Perhaps if we can look beyond the title of the show, then we will realize that it's the experience of being a woman in the modern world who will encounter certain expectations and limits (yes, even these women living in NYC have to live up to expectations) and the struggle to reconcile these two worlds – it is this experience that all women, regardless of ethnic background and religion, can relate to. By watching the show and appreciating the shoes, we do not need to replicate [im]moral behavior. I believe Sikh women should be given more credit than that. I know this may be a far-fetched thought, but I think we can be our Guru's daughters and still relate to SATC.

  16. Sundari says:

    Prabhu Singh Ji: While I appreciate (what I think is) your gesture of protection for Sikh women, your comments are problematic. Reema’s post is not simply about whether or not SATC is [im]moral, but rather why it is that most women (including Punjabi Sikh women) enjoy and yes, can relate to the show. Now, while many Punjabi Sikh women may not use a similar vehicle of expression as say, Samantha Jones, we can perhaps relate to her desire and need to be defined the way she wants to be defined. She owns her actions and by doing so, defines herself rather than being defined by the society in which she functions.

    The theme of “empowerment” than runs throughout the show and something you bring up in your comments, is not simply empowerment through the freedom of sexual expression (that parallel is too simplistic) – but rather the empowerment of living within the confines of your community and your society and yet still being independent, strong (and yes, even religious/spiritual) women.

    Perhaps if we can look beyond the title of the show, then we will realize that it’s the experience of being a woman in the modern world who will encounter certain expectations and limits (yes, even these women living in NYC have to live up to expectations) and the struggle to reconcile these two worlds – it is this experience that all women, regardless of ethnic background and religion, can relate to. By watching the show and appreciating the shoes, we do not need to replicate [im]moral behavior. I believe Sikh women should be given more credit than that. I know this may be a far-fetched thought, but I think we can be our Guru’s daughters and still relate to SATC.

  17. Thanks Sundari Ji for your reply.

    I probably should have either not posted my comment or explained more about what I meant. Really I wasn't even commenting on the article or how Punjabi Sikh women relate, it was just a critique of the show, from my 'Sikh' perspective.

    My repulsion from this show isn't the typical macho reaction to women being "out of their place." I think a woman's place is where ever she wants it to be. I'm repulsed because this show uses WOMEN to exploit women and celebrate "modern" values of consumerism and cheap sex. The value I see in it are women banding together no matter what, but if they were truly there for each other they would exploit each other's divinity not revel in their shared neuroses.

    Mewa Singh Ji, I'm not making up the value of 16, it is a yogic principle.

    Thanks everybody for being civil.

  18. Thanks Sundari Ji for your reply.
    I probably should have either not posted my comment or explained more about what I meant. Really I wasn’t even commenting on the article or how Punjabi Sikh women relate, it was just a critique of the show, from my ‘Sikh’ perspective.
    My repulsion from this show isn’t the typical macho reaction to women being “out of their place.” I think a woman’s place is where ever she wants it to be. I’m repulsed because this show uses WOMEN to exploit women and celebrate “modern” values of consumerism and cheap sex. The value I see in it are women banding together no matter what, but if they were truly there for each other they would exploit each other’s divinity not revel in their shared neuroses.
    Mewa Singh Ji, I’m not making up the value of 16, it is a yogic principle.
    Thanks everybody for being civil.

  19. Suki says:

    Suki, Your acknowledgment of the double standard is totally appreciated and your example is right on. In fact, the girl could come home at midnight without having touched a mind/body-altering substance of any sort and still be considered to have committed some major transgression. It may be an issue of control.

    Here in Vancouver the punjabi sikh community has lost close to 150 young men[7 more this year] and yet our community keeps spoiling young men. Meanwhile girls in our community have to be perfect and even a tiny mistake and the girl is making ruining the family honor.

    Also when people of other races start to notice that the punjabi teenage/early 20 males get more freedom then girls in our community, they start to think our community is sexist.

  20. Suki says:

    Suki, Your acknowledgment of the double standard is totally appreciated and your example is right on. In fact, the girl could come home at midnight without having touched a mind/body-altering substance of any sort and still be considered to have committed some major transgression. It may be an issue of control.

    Here in Vancouver the punjabi sikh community has lost close to 150 young men[7 more this year] and yet our community keeps spoiling young men. Meanwhile girls in our community have to be perfect and even a tiny mistake and the girl is making ruining the family honor.

    Also when people of other races start to notice that the punjabi teenage/early 20 males get more freedom then girls in our community, they start to think our community is sexist.

  21. Bobby says:

    I wonder if that reason that successful western punjabi women like Parminder Nagra, Daljit Dhaliwal, Simran Sethi among others end with non-punjabi men cause they don’t want to deal with the sexism in the punjabi culture.

    Your point about the double standards some people face is well taken Suki, but thankfully, we are all individuals, and I'm sure that the reason why those women you mentioned ended up marrying non Punjabi men is because they fell in love with them, or they work in fields in which there are very few people of the same background as them in which they can meet a partner, or for the same reason as Punjabi men of certain professions and talents end up marrying non Punjabi women, because it happens when people move in social circles in which there are relatively few people of the same ethnic background as you to choose from.

  22. Bobby says:

    I wonder if that reason that successful western punjabi women like Parminder Nagra, Daljit Dhaliwal, Simran Sethi among others end with non-punjabi men cause they dont want to deal with the sexism in the punjabi culture.

    Your point about the double standards some people face is well taken Suki, but thankfully, we are all individuals, and I’m sure that the reason why those women you mentioned ended up marrying non Punjabi men is because they fell in love with them, or they work in fields in which there are very few people of the same background as them in which they can meet a partner, or for the same reason as Punjabi men of certain professions and talents end up marrying non Punjabi women, because it happens when people move in social circles in which there are relatively few people of the same ethnic background as you to choose from.

  23. Suki says:

    I’m sure that the reason why those women you mentioned ended up marrying non Punjabi men is because they fell in love with them, or they work in fields in which there are very few people of the same background as them in which they can meet a partner,

    Yes I think that could be a reason. But also these women grow up in a punjabi culture in which was very male dominated, and thought that marrying a non-punjabi men they may get a more equal relationship.

  24. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki no one is denying patriarchy, but Punjabis hardly have a monopoly on patriarchy.

    Regardless, how can you subscribe a reason Suki without knowing them? How do you know what they 'thought'?

  25. Suki says:

    Im sure that the reason why those women you mentioned ended up marrying non Punjabi men is because they fell in love with them, or they work in fields in which there are very few people of the same background as them in which they can meet a partner,

    Yes I think that could be a reason. But also these women grow up in a punjabi culture in which was very male dominated, and thought that marrying a non-punjabi men they may get a more equal relationship.

  26. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki no one is denying patriarchy, but Punjabis hardly have a monopoly on patriarchy.

    Regardless, how can you subscribe a reason Suki without knowing them? How do you know what they ‘thought’?

  27. Suki says:

    Suki no one is denying patriarchy, but Punjabis hardly have a monopoly on patriarchy.

    Why is it that anytime that any issue with sexism in the punjabi community all you will get from people in the community is that there is problems in other communities. Yes there are problems in other groups, but there are also issues that we have that nobody wants to talk about.

  28. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki,

    People are beginning to talk about sexism. On this site that both you and I read and comment, even just a glance of their posts on the subject – here, here, here, and here – and those by 4 different bloggers illustrates that this is one space that such conversations occur frequently.

    My comment was to your remark:

    But also these women grow up in a punjabi culture in which was very male dominated, and thought that marrying a non-punjabi men they may get a more equal relationship.

    I wanted to highlight again that you don't know these women and can't speak for them. You have absolutely no information why these women married the people they did.

    Also you are making an assumption that 'non-Punjabi' men (a huge category) are also not affected by patriarchy, sexism, etc. It depends on the individual they marry, just as if they had married a Punjabi male, it depends on the individual.

  29. Suki says:

    Suki no one is denying patriarchy, but Punjabis hardly have a monopoly on patriarchy.

    Why is it that anytime that any issue with sexism in the punjabi community all you will get from people in the community is that there is problems in other communities. Yes there are problems in other groups, but there are also issues that we have that nobody wants to talk about.

  30. Suki says:

    I wanted to highlight again that you don’t know these women and can’t speak for them. You have absolutely no information why these women married the people they did.

    I don't know these women, but I have a sister, a cousin and a niece who all chose not to be with punjabi men. These girls grow up in families that alot more western then most punjabi families.

  31. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki,

    People are beginning to talk about sexism. On this site that both you and I read and comment, even just a glance of their posts on the subject – here, here, here, and here – and those by 4 different bloggers illustrates that this is one space that such conversations occur frequently.

    My comment was to your remark:

    But also these women grow up in a punjabi culture in which was very male dominated, and thought that marrying a non-punjabi men they may get a more equal relationship.

    I wanted to highlight again that you don’t know these women and can’t speak for them. You have absolutely no information why these women married the people they did.

    Also you are making an assumption that ‘non-Punjabi’ men (a huge category) are also not affected by patriarchy, sexism, etc. It depends on the individual they marry, just as if they had married a Punjabi male, it depends on the individual.

  32. Suki says:

    I wanted to highlight again that you dont know these women and cant speak for them. You have absolutely no information why these women married the people they did.

    I don’t know these women, but I have a sister, a cousin and a niece who all chose not to be with punjabi men. These girls grow up in families that alot more western then most punjabi families.

  33. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki then you have a hypothesis. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Again what does it mean to be 'western'? I am Punjabi, why would I want to be European?

    Regardless this is a big digression. Both of us are just thread-jacking. I'll make sure I stop.

  34. Mewa Singh says:

    Suki then you have a hypothesis. Nothing more and nothing less.

    Again what does it mean to be ‘western’? I am Punjabi, why would I want to be European?

    Regardless this is a big digression. Both of us are just thread-jacking. I’ll make sure I stop.

  35. Bobby says:

    Suki, everyone knows that there are issues of gender bias in parts of the Punjabi community. Not least of all the Sikh women who blog on this site. I'm pointing out that you don't know anything about the lives of the individuals you referred to, and it's a little distasteful to speculate on the reasons why they made the personal decisions they did. Extrapolating from their choice of marriage partners to wider points based on your own experience may highlight one aspect of Punjabi or Indian diaspora experience, but in a wider context there are differences and nuances that you seem not to even be aware of. The Sikh diaspora is a plural community made up of many different attitudes and experiences.

  36. Bobby says:

    Again what does it mean to be ‘western’? I am Punjabi, why would I want to be European?

    Being 'western' doesn't mean being 'European'

    In this instance I think Suki is referring to the liberal society in which patriarchal attitudes do not restrict the life decisions of young women and men as they do very acutely in some parts of the Punjabi community in the diaspora, for example.

  37. Bobby says:

    Suki, everyone knows that there are issues of gender bias in parts of the Punjabi community. Not least of all the Sikh women who blog on this site. I’m pointing out that you don’t know anything about the lives of the individuals you referred to, and it’s a little distasteful to speculate on the reasons why they made the personal decisions they did. Extrapolating from their choice of marriage partners to wider points based on your own experience may highlight one aspect of Punjabi or Indian diaspora experience, but in a wider context there are differences and nuances that you seem not to even be aware of. The Sikh diaspora is a plural community made up of many different attitudes and experiences.

  38. Bobby says:

    Again what does it mean to be western? I am Punjabi, why would I want to be European?

    Being ‘western’ doesn’t mean being ‘European’

    In this instance I think Suki is referring to the liberal society in which patriarchal attitudes do not restrict the life decisions of young women and men as they do very acutely in some parts of the Punjabi community in the diaspora, for example.

  39. Mewa Singh says:

    However, using the word 'western' does mean European. It refers to being 'Western European.' I understand the point trying to be conveyed, but the terminology is inappropriate. All societies are then perceived to be 'illiberal' and patriarchal, while only Western Europeans are 'liberal'

  40. Mewa Singh says:

    However, using the word ‘western’ does mean European. It refers to being ‘Western European.’ I understand the point trying to be conveyed, but the terminology is inappropriate. All societies are then perceived to be ‘illiberal’ and patriarchal, while only Western Europeans are ‘liberal’

  41. Bobby says:

    The contrast between societal norms in Western societies like the UK, America or Canada which British, American and Canadian born Sikhs aspire to, ie: being free of oppressive social bonds rooted in conservative value systems originating in Indian culture, means that in certain contexts, it is a suitable expression. Because these societies are multi-ethnic now, being 'western' can be a geographical description as much as anything else. "Western Sikhs", ie: Sikhs born and raised in North America or Britain are in many ways different from Indian Sikhs in their attitudes and experiences.

  42. Bobby says:

    The contrast between societal norms in Western societies like the UK, America or Canada which British, American and Canadian born Sikhs aspire to, ie: being free of oppressive social bonds rooted in conservative value systems originating in Indian culture, means that in certain contexts, it is a suitable expression. Because these societies are multi-ethnic now, being ‘western’ can be a geographical description as much as anything else. “Western Sikhs”, ie: Sikhs born and raised in North America or Britain are in many ways different from Indian Sikhs in their attitudes and experiences.

  43. Mewa Singh says:

    Do Sikhs born in Panjab not aspire to be 'free of oppressive social bonds rooted in conservative value systems'? If they are 'successful,' then they too are 'western'? Many young Sikhs are seeking the same freedom of 'oppressive social bonds' through their own interpretations of Sikhi. Are they 'western' as well?

    West = Good

    East = Bad

    I think Edward Said addressed Orientalism long ago. In fact, 2008 marks thirty years since the classic was published.

  44. Bobby says:

    West = Good East = Bad. I think Edward Said addressed Orientalism long ago. In fact, 2008 marks thirty years since the classic was published.

    This has nothing to do with 'Orientalism' my friend. As a description of the social reality of some Sikhs living in the West, born and raised in societies whose value systems are starkly different from those of the ones in which their parents migrated from, and the value systems that they are oppressed by when their parents continue to practise extremely reactionary cultural pressures like coercive arranged marriages, denying their children the right to choose their own partners, extreme patriarchy accompanied by violence, the feudal residues of the caste system, unquestioning religiosity; when this lived reality for a small section of the Sikh (and wider South Asian communities) persists, it's not 'Orientalists' defining 'West' as good and 'East' as bad, it's the families themselves who persist in the reactionary social values rooted in Indian culture who insist that 'Eastern' values are good and 'Western' values are corrupting, polluting, and evil. The social reality is that it is the reactionaries who perpetuate these practises in the name of some mystical values of the 'East' who impose these distinctions.

    Sikhs in the diaspora overwhelmingly embrace the freedom and rights of the individual. They don't see them as alien impositions. They see them as their birthright, because they were born in lands in which individuals can choose their own partners, lead their own lives, and so on. They don't recognise this false dichotomy of 'East' and 'West', because they can take for granted all the things everyone else born in America, England or Candada takes for granted. That is their birthright.

    If you want to get snapshot of this, read Jaswinder Sanghera's book 'Shame', which deals with her life growing up in a Punjabi immigrant family in England in the 1980's, in which she and her sisters were subjected to the most incredible brutality, all done in teh name of 'protecting' their izzat from the 'evil' western cultural influences like, you know, freedom of choice, freedom to marry who you want to, freedom to go to university and live an independent life. To describe her, one of the most respected women's activists in Britain as an Orientalist is utterly absurd.

    The search for ways in which Sikhi as a religion can battle against reactionary social values in Punjab or elsewhere is a noble and great activism and I hope it succeeds. Me personally, like lots of Sikh men and women, don't need to make recourse to it. We already have our solution to the reactionary values that oppress some people in our community: in the UK, it's called the Human Rights Act. In America it's called the Constitution. In Canada it's called the Bill of Rights. The same laws and rights granted to you as an individual that allows a Sikh to practise his or her faith freely, give individuals the right to reject oppressive customs imposed on them by their families. No need to wait for religion to offer a rescue. The solution is already there.

  45. Mewa Singh says:

    Do Sikhs born in Panjab not aspire to be ‘free of oppressive social bonds rooted in conservative value systems’? If they are ‘successful,’ then they too are ‘western’? Many young Sikhs are seeking the same freedom of ‘oppressive social bonds’ through their own interpretations of Sikhi. Are they ‘western’ as well?

    West = Good
    East = Bad

    I think Edward Said addressed Orientalism long ago. In fact, 2008 marks thirty years since the classic was published.

  46. Bobby says:

    West = Good East = Bad. I think Edward Said addressed Orientalism long ago. In fact, 2008 marks thirty years since the classic was published.

    This has nothing to do with ‘Orientalism’ my friend. As a description of the social reality of some Sikhs living in the West, born and raised in societies whose value systems are starkly different from those of the ones in which their parents migrated from, and the value systems that they are oppressed by when their parents continue to practise extremely reactionary cultural pressures like coercive arranged marriages, denying their children the right to choose their own partners, extreme patriarchy accompanied by violence, the feudal residues of the caste system, unquestioning religiosity; when this lived reality for a small section of the Sikh (and wider South Asian communities) persists, it’s not ‘Orientalists’ defining ‘West’ as good and ‘East’ as bad, it’s the families themselves who persist in the reactionary social values rooted in Indian culture who insist that ‘Eastern’ values are good and ‘Western’ values are corrupting, polluting, and evil. The social reality is that it is the reactionaries who perpetuate these practises in the name of some mystical values of the ‘East’ who impose these distinctions.

    Sikhs in the diaspora overwhelmingly embrace the freedom and rights of the individual. They don’t see them as alien impositions. They see them as their birthright, because they were born in lands in which individuals can choose their own partners, lead their own lives, and so on. They don’t recognise this false dichotomy of ‘East’ and ‘West’, because they can take for granted all the things everyone else born in America, England or Candada takes for granted. That is their birthright.

    If you want to get snapshot of this, read Jaswinder Sanghera’s book ‘Shame’, which deals with her life growing up in a Punjabi immigrant family in England in the 1980′s, in which she and her sisters were subjected to the most incredible brutality, all done in teh name of ‘protecting’ their izzat from the ‘evil’ western cultural influences like, you know, freedom of choice, freedom to marry who you want to, freedom to go to university and live an independent life. To describe her, one of the most respected women’s activists in Britain as an Orientalist is utterly absurd.

    The search for ways in which Sikhi as a religion can battle against reactionary social values in Punjab or elsewhere is a noble and great activism and I hope it succeeds. Me personally, like lots of Sikh men and women, don’t need to make recourse to it. We already have our solution to the reactionary values that oppress some people in our community: in the UK, it’s called the Human Rights Act. In America it’s called the Constitution. In Canada it’s called the Bill of Rights. The same laws and rights granted to you as an individual that allows a Sikh to practise his or her faith freely, give individuals the right to reject oppressive customs imposed on them by their families. No need to wait for religion to offer a rescue. The solution is already there.

  47. Suki says:

    Suki, everyone knows that there are issues of gender bias in parts of the Punjabi community. Not least of all the Sikh women who blog on this site. I’m pointing out that you don’t know anything about the lives of the individuals you referred to, and it’s a little distasteful to speculate on the reasons why they made the personal decisions

    Why is it wrong to speculate about these women and there choice of the person they ended up with. The reason I brought up these women was that they may be the most visible punjabi women in the United States.

  48. Suki says:

    If you want to get snapshot of this, read Jaswinder Sanghera’s book ‘Shame’, which deals with her life growing up in a Punjabi immigrant family in England in the 1980’s, in which she and her sisters were subjected to the most incredible brutality, all done in teh name of ‘protecting’ their izzat from the ‘evil’ western cultural influences like, you know, freedom of choice, freedom to marry who you want to, freedom to go to university and live an independent life.

    I just get sick and tired when punjabi immigrants to the west talk about how much better things are in the homeland and how people in the west have no culture or morals. Then why did they leave there precious punjab. It's amazing how everyone from the Punjab wants to come out west, yet when alot of them get here they have such a negative view of the mainstream culture of the country they live in.I wonder if its some form of cultural jealousy. It eats them up inside that culture that is so different from is one that is found in the best countries in the world.

    I always find it funny how many in community talks about the mainstream community women sleep around and they get divorced so easy and how the parents don't support the kids and how women are allowed to drink alcohol among other things. I just love it how we will cry racism over the almost anything, yet have no problems making sterotypes about other groups.

    Even though I didn't agree with everything my parents did, I am happy when they came to Canada in the early 70's they moved to an area in which we one of the few minority's. So my parents had to make an effort to learn the culture and customs of the great new country they moved to and make friends of other races[many who 30 years later they still friends with]. But most of all I'm happy that my young sister was able to grow up there where she had more freedom then she would had if she grow up in parts of the Vancouver area with a big punjabi area.

    I'm sorry if my comments upset anybody, but I think the west is best, and after spending 4 months in the punjab in the late 90's I'm very glad that my parents came here and even happier for all my female relatives that grow up in Canada or the United States, cause there have a chance for a much better life then they would back in my parents homeland.

  49. Suki says:

    Suki, everyone knows that there are issues of gender bias in parts of the Punjabi community. Not least of all the Sikh women who blog on this site. Im pointing out that you dont know anything about the lives of the individuals you referred to, and its a little distasteful to speculate on the reasons why they made the personal decisions

    Why is it wrong to speculate about these women and there choice of the person they ended up with. The reason I brought up these women was that they may be the most visible punjabi women in the United States.

  50. Suki says:

    If you want to get snapshot of this, read Jaswinder Sangheras book Shame, which deals with her life growing up in a Punjabi immigrant family in England in the 1980s, in which she and her sisters were subjected to the most incredible brutality, all done in teh name of protecting their izzat from the evil western cultural influences like, you know, freedom of choice, freedom to marry who you want to, freedom to go to university and live an independent life.

    I just get sick and tired when punjabi immigrants to the west talk about how much better things are in the homeland and how people in the west have no culture or morals. Then why did they leave there precious punjab. It’s amazing how everyone from the Punjab wants to come out west, yet when alot of them get here they have such a negative view of the mainstream culture of the country they live in.I wonder if its some form of cultural jealousy. It eats them up inside that culture that is so different from is one that is found in the best countries in the world.

    I always find it funny how many in community talks about the mainstream community women sleep around and they get divorced so easy and how the parents don’t support the kids and how women are allowed to drink alcohol among other things. I just love it how we will cry racism over the almost anything, yet have no problems making sterotypes about other groups.

    Even though I didn’t agree with everything my parents did, I am happy when they came to Canada in the early 70′s they moved to an area in which we one of the few minority’s. So my parents had to make an effort to learn the culture and customs of the great new country they moved to and make friends of other races[many who 30 years later they still friends with]. But most of all I’m happy that my young sister was able to grow up there where she had more freedom then she would had if she grow up in parts of the Vancouver area with a big punjabi area.

    I’m sorry if my comments upset anybody, but I think the west is best, and after spending 4 months in the punjab in the late 90′s I’m very glad that my parents came here and even happier for all my female relatives that grow up in Canada or the United States, cause there have a chance for a much better life then they would back in my parents homeland.

  51. Reema says:

    Suki,

    I appreciate that you want your sister to have freedom. And if you think "the west is best" then you're entitled to your opinion.

    I'm sorry you didn't have a good experience during your 4 month visit to Punjab, but it doesn't benefit you to limit Punjab to just your 4 month experience of it.

    Then why did they leave there precious punjab. It’s amazing how everyone from the Punjab wants to come out west, yet when alot of them get here they have such a negative view of the mainstream culture of the country they live in.I wonder if its some form of cultural jealousy. It eats them up inside that culture that is so different from is one that is found in the best countries in the world.

    This is hilarious… one of the main reasons people leave Punjab (or emigrate generally) is economic NOT cultural.

    What makes a country "best" in your mind? Wealth? Well, if that works for you, that's cool- but some people are just more comfortable when people dress like them, speak/understand their language, and appreciate their history. That's why most immigrants are nostalgic for their native homes, not any sort of cultural jealousy.

    Think about the things that make up 'culture'… that's what people miss. Eating pooray after the rain.

    People want to come to the west because of economic opportunity, and don't always realize the cultural consequences when they make that move. But trying to say that a culture is "better" or "worse" is pretty sweeping and …. not true. :) It leads people to say that people from a specific culture are "better" or "worse" and I know you don't want to go there.

  52. Suki says:

    People want to come to the west because of economic opportunity, and don’t always realize the cultural consequences when they make that move.

    Some of the blame goes on the host country and they need to do a better job of informing newcomers that things are different then what is in the homeland. In Europe some countries like Denmark and Holland have made changes to there immigration policy and all newcomers have to learn the culture and customs of the countries they come to.

  53. Reema says:

    Suki,

    I appreciate that you want your sister to have freedom. And if you think “the west is best” then you’re entitled to your opinion.

    I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience during your 4 month visit to Punjab, but it doesn’t benefit you to limit Punjab to just your 4 month experience of it.

    Then why did they leave there precious punjab. Its amazing how everyone from the Punjab wants to come out west, yet when alot of them get here they have such a negative view of the mainstream culture of the country they live in.I wonder if its some form of cultural jealousy. It eats them up inside that culture that is so different from is one that is found in the best countries in the world.

    This is hilarious… one of the main reasons people leave Punjab (or emigrate generally) is economic NOT cultural.

    What makes a country “best” in your mind? Wealth? Well, if that works for you, that’s cool- but some people are just more comfortable when people dress like them, speak/understand their language, and appreciate their history. That’s why most immigrants are nostalgic for their native homes, not any sort of cultural jealousy.

    Think about the things that make up ‘culture’… that’s what people miss. Eating pooray after the rain.

    People want to come to the west because of economic opportunity, and don’t always realize the cultural consequences when they make that move. But trying to say that a culture is “better” or “worse” is pretty sweeping and …. not true. :) It leads people to say that people from a specific culture are “better” or “worse” and I know you don’t want to go there.

  54. Suki says:

    People want to come to the west because of economic opportunity, and dont always realize the cultural consequences when they make that move.

    Some of the blame goes on the host country and they need to do a better job of informing newcomers that things are different then what is in the homeland. In Europe some countries like Denmark and Holland have made changes to there immigration policy and all newcomers have to learn the culture and customs of the countries they come to.

  55. Mewa Singh says:

    Bobby,

    I understand your argument, I am just questioning the politics of the vocabulary employed. 'Western' comes from the region imagined as 'western Europe.' There may be another word that we can devise is better descriptive.

    Orientalism goes both ways. In fact Said's thesis states that in many ways 'orientalism' affects the 'oriental' more than the 'occidental.' I do not deny the inverted binaries that some Punjabi families use. In the face of colonial oppression, the language of an 'pure' and 'spiritual' East was devised. It has been as much the fantasy of Panjabi families as it has been of hippies traveling there.

    They don’t recognise this false dichotomy of ‘East’ and ‘West’.

    I couldn't agree more with this statement. This is what I am trying to say as well. We should avoid these 'false' dichotomies in our language. That was what Said was trying to say in his Orientalism as well.

    Thank you for the suggestion of Sanghera's book. I actually have read it. And as you describe it is a brutal and tragic narrative. While I would not label her as an 'Orientalist,' if she is only dealing in the binaries that you describe (which I don't believe she would be effective if that was the case), then yes, I would label her assumptions coming out of Orientalism.

  56. Mewa Singh says:

    Bobby,

    I understand your argument, I am just questioning the politics of the vocabulary employed. ‘Western’ comes from the region imagined as ‘western Europe.’ There may be another word that we can devise is better descriptive.

    Orientalism goes both ways. In fact Said’s thesis states that in many ways ‘orientalism’ affects the ‘oriental’ more than the ‘occidental.’ I do not deny the inverted binaries that some Punjabi families use. In the face of colonial oppression, the language of an ‘pure’ and ‘spiritual’ East was devised. It has been as much the fantasy of Panjabi families as it has been of hippies traveling there.

    They dont recognise this false dichotomy of East and West.

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement. This is what I am trying to say as well. We should avoid these ‘false’ dichotomies in our language. That was what Said was trying to say in his Orientalism as well.

    Thank you for the suggestion of Sanghera’s book. I actually have read it. And as you describe it is a brutal and tragic narrative. While I would not label her as an ‘Orientalist,’ if she is only dealing in the binaries that you describe (which I don’t believe she would be effective if that was the case), then yes, I would label her assumptions coming out of Orientalism.

  57. dhillon says:

    stop such discussions , why the one who start such a topic —cant start a good topic–a purely negative approach —is there dearth of good topics

    come on man –have some decency ——-such a n ice respectful community is pun jabi community —and this man by starting such a topic is nt any graceful act ——this is a bad attempt by the person who started such a topic—must be condemend and he should feel sorry for this.

  58. dhillon says:

    stop such discussions , why the one who start such a topic —cant start a good topic–a purely negative approach —is there dearth of good topics

    come on man –have some decency ——-such a n ice respectful community is pun jabi community —and this man by starting such a topic is nt any graceful act ——this is a bad attempt by the person who started such a topic—must be condemend and he should feel sorry for this.

  59. Kaur says:

    I absolutely love the show! honestly I don't know why we take ourselves so seriously. Sikh women are either portrayed as being in a dastar, or just a western rebel … can't we be a bit of both? How about one who enjoys the worldly pleasures, is thankful for them but never gets too comfortable/ attached?
    The show, while it does come with a whole lot of sex (well that is what sells!) , does teach some good worldly lessons…. and is that not our job as a sikh… to learn from every situation, or to seek the good always.

  60. Kaur says:

    I absolutely love the show! honestly I don't know why we take ourselves so seriously. Sikh women are either portrayed as being in a dastar, or just a western rebel … can't we be a bit of both? How about one who enjoys the worldly pleasures, is thankful for them but never gets too comfortable/ attached?
    The show, while it does come with a whole lot of sex (well that is what sells!) , does teach some good worldly lessons…. and is that not our job as a sikh… to learn from every situation, or to seek the good always.

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