The Foundry · Thoughts

Culture Point – Separation in Families

So this is something I have come to observe lately, now that I am interacting more with people. What I state below is from my own experiences with my family and friends, what I perceive to be happening.

In an Asian family, or from my experience Bengali families there is a separation of the genders. Males family members will typically sit together and not interact at all with females, during gatherings they will leave their other halves or female family members at the door once the initial meet and greet is done. They would go to the room that has been “designated” for men, the females would then go to their own rooms.

This separations does not end at any point, during meals then men eat together and the females eat together. The females are to cook, and it is not seen as “correct” for man to do so. However this can be bent if the sons of the person holding the gatherings are present. From my own experience my mother would tell me to set the plates, and to take food into the dining room. Growing up this used to be there way, I didn’t help much with the actually cooking of the massive meals. I would interact with females at this point, but would quickly leave the room once my job was done.

It seems now that whenever I am involved in these big gatherings I revert back to a place where my mothers word is law, for EID or something else. Now I highly respect my mother, she has raised four kids on her own, given us so much. The character or mask I show to my family is different to one I show the world. Outside I am calm, confident and outgoing. When I interact with my family I become more quiet, and instead of offering solutions readily I will wait for others to do so.

Its strange because I can feel this happen, I don’t provide as much in discussions within my family. Just because of the years of growing up in this family, I only every spread my wings when I started work in my early twenties.

The first time I noticed this was after spending time with friends and fully when visiting Ali’s family, realising that this separation didn’t take place in most families. There isn’t this separation with her family, everyone can talk to everyone and no one has to go into another room. It is very freeing, and nice to see this. There is no awkwardness when someone finds a person of the other gender in the room, they can happily sit down and chat with them.

Now the above experiences for me usually only apply when gatherings are taking place, in general day-to-day and small gatherings people are slightly freer. More open with each other, I can chat to my cousins and my other relatives fairly easily. It is just when it is a major gathering, that the restrictions seem to come into place.

Anyway the above is just the experiences I have had with my family, friends and others. I know Asian cultures have lots of differences in comparison to Western cultures, and that this is one of them that I have noticed. I see many other things of note, and it is really interesting to see. How while we as a society are trying to be integrated there are still so many differences, my own family has made a tremendous effort to integrate into this society. Some things we have a long way to go on, but other things we may not need to change as they are a sign of the culture that we have.

Anyway thanks for reading.

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2 thoughts on “Culture Point – Separation in Families

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