Growing up in a household with five brothers, patriarchy was not just an abstract concept and I became conscious of differing gender roles early in life. My father made all the important decisions and mother always complied even when she grumbled about the decision. My brothers stepped out of their beds and left their shorts literally squatting in the place they walked out of them leaving mother and I to make their beds and tidy their rooms. In academics my father expected me to perform as well as any boy, but outside school I was not to climb trees or get into fights, instead I was to complete my homework and help my mother in the kitchen where the boys were not allowed in to 'disturb us!' She never spoke up but I grew up 'feeling' my mother's dissatisfaction with the status quo. Naturally, I rebelled, whenever I could. Today am a female head of household and still rebelling against the 'traditional' upbringing of the girl child - and I think am doing a good job. My younger daughter recently told me she can do anything a boy can do 'and do it in heels.' I smiled with satisfaction, happy that I have contributed to a new generation of activists to challenge gender inequality and all injustice the way I did in my childhood, youth and adult life.
At 50 I know that our upbringing shapes our values and who we become in life. My mother may not have been a role model for defending her own rights but her quiet grumbling unwittingly laid the foundation for my loud activism against many forms of injustice later in life.