Growing up and being able to experience long andregular visits to my country, Bangladesh, has given me a cultural context ofwhat practices in my culture that I wanted to abandon and what practices Iwanted to uphold. Despite living in the UK where goals and values holddifferent meanings (Rogoff),it has given me the chance to see things from different perspectives and understandbits what makes me who I am. My recent visit to Sylhet, Bangladesh in thesummer of 2016 where I stayed for two and a half months, I paid directattention to the gender discourses between the Bengali women and their positionwithin it. My family and I had shared our stay in Sylhet between my paternalGrandparent’s village house and my maternal Grandparent’s house in the urbancity of Sylhet. When visiting the village home I found that there were neverany females in sight besides for workers; female workers were hired for kitchenand cleaning purposes whereas the male workers were mainly hired for farmingand fishing purposes.
The position of women in Bangladesh is the direct resultof the dominant patriarchal values which is deep-rooted in the cultural patternwhich reflects the subordination of women, where women are dominated by a patrilinealkinship structure- this further reinforces the social and economic dependenceof women upon men. I feel as though it leads to the relative low status ofwomen, in comparison to their male partners. During my stay in Bangladesh therewere workers who were hired to take care of my every need- who were mainlyyoung females. As I am used to taking care of my own personal needs in terms ofmy clothing, cooking and cleaning, this was very uncomfortable for me toexperience.
I knew that the only reason for this is that girls usually work invillage homes is because were taken out of school before finishing high schooland look after the family- so they may be a source of income. Many girls getmarried after high school, the education system in the village prescribes thatthe purpose of women’s education is to produce good mothers and wives with theconstant round of childcare to confine them in the house (Heidensohn, 1996). This shows another example of The Other, as itrepresents how socialisation in the village and each role assigned to a genderconstructs our ideas of what it is to be a man or a woman- viewing the two asdirect opposites of the other without taking into account other genders. Simonde Beauvoir argues that women are made to be the Other of man, which sociallyconstructs masculinity as a universal norm in which the position of women isdefined (Simon de Beauvoir, 1949). I hadexperienced feelings of inclusion and exclusion at the same time.
Whilst being there,I was looked at as a ‘Londoni’, meaning someone who is from London; theattributes of someone of this type would be assumed to be someone who is rich,educated and much more advantaged as opposed to a Bangladeshi. Here I feltexcluded, reason being is that these assumptions made about a ‘Londoni’ alreadytreats me as a tourist in my own country, and paves a route to bettertreatment, which is thought to make me feel better, but rather it isolated me.As an insider, I had experienced many of the same issues that the women facedduring my visits. My insider position grants me access to a Bengali woman’s worlds;I was settled in an inflexible third space. As Hooks (1984) has expressed, “Welooked from the outside in and from the inside out. We focused our attention onthe centre as well as on the margin.
” (Hooks, 1984, p. 9). This means that someonecannot separate the two terms because both give strength to the other.
Howeverin my third space position, I have the chance to explore my topic from twopositions: as an outsider living on the margins and as an insider. Thisexperience has shaped who I am as a person because occupying an outsider andinsider position in my culture; it helps to be reflexive in that I am able tojudge a situation by taking in both perspectives.