An email: “this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.”

This issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws is also an issue of bias between a much wanted and valued, prayed and fasted for Indian male child and the generally unwanted Indian girl child.

Those who avoid having girl children, frequently value the male child as a Budhape ka Sahara, expected to provide financial support and obedient daughters in law to the parents . 

Girl children are not expected to do either and the only way they can traditionally repay the parents is by Getting Married and Staying Married, preferably Happily Married (only to someone the parents approve of).  

Because Happily married daughters are seen as well brought up, sanskaari or empowered or ‘lucky’. The parents of Happily Married Daughters generally maybe considered fortunate, sensible, matured, sanskaari and successful.

Happily married sons risk being seen as Joru Ke Gulaam (JKG), neglectful of their parents. Parents of happily married sons risk being looked upon as uncared for, by others and by themselves. (parents who have no male children are free from such expectations)

But how does patriarchy expect to see happily married daughters without any happily married sons?

Same way it sees ‘peace and harmony’ in silenced voices, unhappiness, injustice, cruelty, denial of human rights and freedom, and gender bias.

Sharing an email.  

Dear IHM

Gender issues and bias against women never seemed to really touch me until my marriage. My upbringing was such that both career and family were made equally important. After, completing my studies, I got landed with a cushy corporate job in a big city. My parents supported my decision to move to this city.

After a few years of working life, I met a guy. We fell for each other and decided to marry. While my parents approved of him and respected my choice, his mother refused of our match. Reason, after showing my horoscope to a pundit, the latter told her that while I will get along well with her son but I won’t get along well with her.

Somehow, my hubby along with his dad managed to convince her and she agreed. Unfortunately, my father in law expired only a few months of our marriage. Mil refused to shift with us. I had to quit my job immediately to be with her as she couldn’t stay alone. After a few months my hubby too got a job in his hometown and moved with us.

When we were finally settled, my hubby brought the subject of me starting with my job again. She bluntly refused saying that she does not want to be a maid to us plus she cannot stay alone after her hubby’s death. I loved my hubby a lot and made this sacrifice for him.

But her tantrums didn’t stop. She never allowed to us to go out alone, parties were not allowed, movie dates were not allowed, visiting relatives were not allowed…..Worst, she would get furious even if talked with each other in her presence, many times she would come to our room to sleep since she used to get afraid in the night! We were newly-weds who slept with their mother in between!

I sacrificed my desires as well. She demanded a child soon so that she could get busy with the grandchild.

We understood her situation and conceived. She became all the more controlling and dictating now. I was advised bed rest for one month due to chances of abortion but she told me that doctors don’t know much. The more you will work, the better your chances of having a normal delivery.

She started playing dirty politics. Would say something to me and something different to hubby. Used to treat me like a maid behind his back and showered false care in front of him. Foolish me, I never complained and never shared with even hubby. Kept on enduring all abuse because I wanted to make the marriage work.

Pregnancy and delivery both were a nightmare. Only used to share with my mom. But enough is enough.

My mom expired and I went through one of the worst periods of depression. I couldn’t take it anymore. The desire to make the marriage work finally lost its battle and all I wanted was a divorce.

My hubby got extremely distressed and spoke to his sister, who’s in a similar situation. Her MIL too is a widow. She’s working in a highly reputed company at a good post. She advised us that the only solution to the problem is that I start working and we keep a full time maid. We all spoke to my MIL and she had to agree.

By this time my kid had turned two. I got a job and started working. We kept a full time maid for all the work. Things improved. Although, she never allowed us alone time but at least she stopped treating me like a maid. Time passed and I got promoted. I now used to get a little late from office. Where earlier I used to be home by 5:30, I started arriving around 6:30.

Problems started cropping up again. Our maid used to leave by 5 pm and against half an hour, she now had to keep the grandchild for full one hour. I spoke with my boss and worked upon a solution from working from home. I had to visit office for just one day in a week and just required to remain online during office hours on Skype.

Now she asked the maid to leave to cut down expenses. Due to work at home, my job suffered and I got fired. Even the job solution didn’t work. To engage myself I have now started spending time on my laptop. Once I got fired, the maid treatment started again.

I could have still understood her expectations for having a typical house wife as a daughter in law had her own daughter not been working. Hers is an arranged marriage. She takes special pride in describing her daughter’s achievements. She loves to narrate how she prevented her daughter from marrying the boy of her choice because the boy’s parents were not ready to let her continue her career.

Had she married that boy, she would have turned into a ‘typical housewife’ by now, she describes flaunting her choice of groom for her daughter. My sister in law has two children and her MIL keeps her two kids for 12 hours. And my MIL couldn’t even keep my child for just one hour!

I understand I should not make comparisons, each person is different. But if I am understanding her, atleast she can let me be me. If she expects me to do household chores, I have no qualms. Its my work, my responsibility. But when I am doing all my duties, have sacrificed my career, my desires, why can’t I do what I enjoy doing. Now she is having problems with me spending time on the laptop and not spending time with other ‘bahus’ in the locality!

She now has problems that I don’t go to kitty parties, I don’t mingle with other bahus and waste time on the internet! Her daughter doesn’t go to kitty parties because she is a career woman. I never neglected my duties even when I was working. I used to make chapattis, pack three tiffins (hubby’s, son’s and mine), make breakfast, get my son ready for school, prepare dinner…

My SIL knows no cooking, does not help in any household work, does not even looks after her kids, shouts at her MIL (many times her MIL calls my MIL that her daughter does not treat her well and makes her feel like a maid!) Her ‘saat khun are maaf’ only because she is earning in lakhs per month, while I earned peanuts compared to her! Every time she gives this excuse, if hubby or me say anything.

But why does she fails to overlook, I was also earning good. In fact we both would have been doing well in our careers had we not compromised with our careers due to her. We are now living in a small town, the place is not meant for service class or professionals.

This time when my SIL visited us on a festive occasion and dropped her six month old baby with us to take care as she can’t stay up late in the night with the baby and her MIL wasn’t doing well, I lost it! My blood literally boiled over. This time my MIL had no problem in keeping such a small baby and she refused to take care of my 4 year old child during that one hour in the evening.

I thought a grandchild would make a difference in her behaviour. But she never took interest in my child.

Why such a strong bias! Why such difference between a daughter and a daughter in law. When we raise our daughters to become career conscious individuals, why do we expect our daughters to be perfect
home makers?

This injustice and biased treatment is eating me up. Since we cannot live separately as my hubby is the only son, I have stopped speaking to her. We do not interact other than the basic communication. But the bitterness is still there, hatred is still there. Its affecting me, affecting my relationship with hubby. I have not mentioned here about her manipulations, dirty politics, bad mouthing about me, my parents to my hubby and SIL.

I love my husband but I hate his mother. And after rendering all this mistreatment to me, she wants to prove me guilty to my hubby and other relatives and seek their sympathy. I have lost my hair, my weight, my health due to this. Is there any way out? Will she ever understand and acknowledge what she is doing? What should I do? I am clueless and losing the desire to live.

I cannot divorce my husband, living away from her is not an option. Hubby asks me to ignore and focus on my hobbies. At times I do and at times I lose it and sink into depression again. How to kill this hatred, this bitterness from my heart. I know the damage cannot be undone but how to forgive and start living?

It’s a long letter. But I really felt good writing to you. Would appreciate if you take up this issue of the bias between daughters and daughter in laws.

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen, what kind of future was Rani being offered? 

Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? – Indusladies.com

Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

To an Anonymous DIL

I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

“Now I just think of marriage as contract to go serve some stranger family. He made it clear that I could have ended in a much worse situation.”

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

An email: “I am close with a person who is elder to me and married, but not happy.”

Sharing an email – what do you think should the email writer do? How can she go about it? What would help, what do you think would not help? 

Hi,

I never thought I would be writing here.

I am a 29 soon to be 30 years working in IT. Single but happy. I have a lot of my hobbies and plans I do not feel left out alone or anything. I like travelling, photography. Have been to top of mountains to deep under the sea. I am not good looking and absolutely do not like make-up and all those stuff and surely not to please anyone.

My parents want me to get married and are in search for past 4 years. I saw a few boys but never got a ‘yes’ nor a ‘no’. There was no contact so we assumed that they must not be interested. I myself have not denied anyone. But I must agree I pointed out to my parents, “He did not talk much. Kept looking out of the window while parents chatted.” Or, “Why talk in English? His parents are here. They must get to know me and my point of view”. For this my mother now says, I pointed out mistakes in every person. But I surely told them if I liked anyone when he made an effort to talk to my parents or it was not only me touching his parents feet (which I do not like to do just for the sake of it) but he did the same. I felt good meeting such people. But nothing happened.

Now my mother is in panic mode. She feels all the boys are already setting age criteria which you do not fit. All marriageable age boys are getting over. And now it’s getting difficult. You are not finding one yourself. Being so firm with your points that some person will ‘run away’ feeling afraid.

I do not agree to put on a make-up and show. I would like someone to like me for what I am. Not something I have posed. Being presentable is ok. But no painting. I have a younger sister. If I taking time it will make difficult for her it seems. I have told them if she likes/finds anyone please go ahead. But “You have no idea how difficult you are making this for us or for yourself!!!”

I believe things will happen when they intend to. There are people who have found partners after 30-31-32. But ‘this does not happen with all!’ is what I get. I have now taken up studies for entrance higher studies. My parents are not at all against it. But “it can happen together also! Are you going to wait till you finish it? How much late?” I agree. If anyone is accepting it I am ok.

I am close with a person who is elder to me and married, but not happy. We both know time will come when we have to change paths and we are prepared. It will be hard but we have to. He tried getting divorce but things are complicated as he is threatened with law. But he does not ask me to wait at all. Also my parents will be broken with such a relationship if I choose. But we share a good rapport and understanding. It is not a deep madly in love. But an understanding relationship that complements each other. He has kept me in high spirit, help me look at the positive side when I was down, helped me dared when I was afraid talking to people/managers etc.

Sometimes when I think what will I do if there is no marriage? I tell myself there are many things I can. May be open a shelter for stray animals I always felt like, roam around in jungles, may be join and NGO to teach kids, sponsor education of at least 1 child up to the time he/she wants to study.

Should I be trying with all my might to find a partner putting it on first priority? Daily checking the marriage sites to see possible matches? Or go on with life and decide when time comes? Or make the time come because of the age factor? Go on looking the prospective men around?

I have also told parents that if they are so tenses of me getting married. Then I am ready to any person who says first ‘Yes’. ‘To blame us later?’ – my mother asks. Then taking the pressure of the society(?) and fretting over it will make whom happy? I see so much of issues because of me. What if I am not there?

What must I do?

- Please Help.

Emma Watson to men : Gender equality is your issue too.

Do watch Emma Watson speak so sensibly about Feminism. This speech should be shared and re-shared.

Links shared by Vidya and Kary.

The full transcript of her amazing speech can be read here: Emma Watson Says That The View Feminism Is “Man Hating” Has To Stop

“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.

If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.

Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”

“No country in the world can yet say they have achieved gender equality.
These rights I consider to be human rights but I am one of the lucky ones. My life is a sheer privilege because my parents didn’t love me less because I was born a daughter. My school did not limit me because I was a girl. My mentors didn’t assume I would go less far because I might give birth to a child one day. These influencers were the gender equality ambassadors that made who I am today. They may not know it, but they are the inadvertent feminists who are. And we need more of those. And if you still hate the word—it is not the word that is important but the idea and the ambition behind it. Because not all women have been afforded the same rights that I have. In fact, statistically, very few have been.”

Related Posts:

Why are these dads such a threat to patriarchal social structures?

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

Jealousies and one-upmanship are sometimes seen as machismo.

Hasee toh Phasee : When a Bollywood hero is an Emotional Dhakkan.

Women and their unmentionables. Understanding Objectification.

This is a rambling and unedited attempt to understand why there is so much tolerance, in all Patriarchal societies, to Objectification of women.   

Many believe, and see it as obvious, that since women (unlike everybody else?) have bodies they should expect to be discussed, commented upon, condemned, stalked, hated, adored, sexually assaulted, respected, objectified etc.

Specially if the parts of the body being discussed have been sexualised – like legs, lips, eyes, breasts, ankles, back, belly, neck, midriff, shoulders, thighs, knees, toes, ears, mouth; because, why else were these body parts created if not for men  – to view, approve, own, disown, love, hate, honor, decide whether they are obscene or graceful, whether they look more attractive (to men) covered or uncovered, and how much covered or revealed?

This belief that women (or their bodies) exist to serve some purpose in men’s lives is reinforced when we hear numerous statements, like those that imply that our Skewed Gender Ratio is a problem – not because it indicates something seriously and evilly wrong with the society, but because it means there aren’t enough women for men to marry.

So, it’s obvious that when Deepika Padukone pointed out, “Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage.”, many of us can’t quite understand what she means.

[Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.]

Because, the point for many is just that. She should not forget that she is a woman, and has breasts and a cleavage. She is supposed to keep them covered or lose all right to dignity or privacy (for want of better word).

Here’s a TOI comment that explains the attitude better:

“If a person is not ashamed to remove his/her clothes for whatever reasons there may be, then why make a big fuss about people peeking into the pics looking for something ‘more’. Lets not let ourselves down to a level where public scrutiny might shame us”

It’s not just breasts. Women are viewed as a collection of body parts and the parts have been transformed into objects that serve to attract, delight or disgust men. What other purpose do women’s bodies serve? Women (i.e. their bodies) it seems were created for men.

Try viewing legs (women’s legs) as means for moving from one place to another – it would be considered a radical and impractical idea by many – because non-radical or default or the ‘normal’ remains how they appear to the male eye. Like – whether or not they are modestly covered, how good or bad they look, what colour, shape, texture, size, covering appeals to men.

TOI says:

Deepika Padukone SHOWS off again !!

 

‘… when her dress went too far and a part of her unmentionable were visible for a second ..although it isn’t a blooper but we definitely caught something peeping out of her dress.’

How do women’s body parts become ‘unmentionables’?

‘Some 150 years back the women in kerala launched a feminist revolt for the right to cover their breast, women in kerala were not allowed to cover their breast; mostly this rule was applicable to lower caste women, when someone from higher caste would come she should show her breast to cover ones breast was considered a sign of immodesty. Brahmin women can cover their breast while venturing out but at home they had to be topless, shatriya women cant cover breast infront of brahmins and lower cast women couldnt cover breast infront of anyone. The cloth worn on lower part couldnt be lower than the knee.’ [Click to read more]

There are contradicting ways in which women’s bodies are objectified.

One is seemingly respectful, protective and caring, another is gallant, chivalrous and seemingly liberal, and yet another one is openly misogynistic. All involve sexualising of women’s body into parts and seeing women as objects created for men’s convenience.

1. One view claims to honor, worship, find graceful, love, adore ‘the beautiful women who give men life’ and who sacrifice their happiness and self interest for men.

They believe crimes against women would end if all men viewed all women as their mothers and sisters and if all women lived and dressed in ways that didn’t draw any attention to them (basically if women were not seen).

They don’t talk about incest or child abuse or other crimes against women and children inside their homes.

They might believe that West is the cause of all crimes against women in India. They believe sexual assaults happen because men are weak and fail to control their ‘natural’ urges and that such men should be castrated or hanged or stoned and spat upon. And they might believe that women are too good to have such ‘manly needs and urges’.

They might also believe that lesser evils in man can be reformed by the love of a good woman.

They, like others misogynists, insist that women’s bodies were created for men, the Uterus to provide male heirs (though beautiful daughters are needed too, or else there would be no one to provide loving care, tie a rakhi, wear pretty bichias and bangles, provide opportunities for kanya-daan, save the rituals, customs and culture etc. So, yes, they admit, daughters have their uses too. These are the people who would appeal to parents to have daughters but may believe that divorce and love marriages are social evils.

They don’t talk about what women in unhappy marriages should do, they believe good women know how to stay happily married and such women would rather die than bring dishonour to family.

This view urges men to ‘respect’ women like their own mothers and sisters, but says nothing about viewing women as humans – capable of feelings, failings or desires.

Those who hold this view won’t allow women to compare themselves to men. They insist that men are weak, spoilt, selfish, aggressive, crude and that’s okay because they are men. But women can’t afford to be like this and they mustn’t attempt that. Because women are special – they are mothers. (Yet they don’t think children should carry their mothers’ names and lineage forward)  They believe it’s okay for women to give up their families, names, identities and happiness for men. They are likely to admire women who suffer in silence, sacrifice and serve without complaining. And because all women are goddesses and those who are not are merely misguided, and should be still ‘respected’ and taught about their duty to ‘mankind’.

They don’t see much hope for a woman who is not found beautiful by men, which is why they feel they are being compassionate and reassuring when they insist that ‘all women are beautiful’. Occasionally they can be also be found assuring random women of their attractiveness to men, and then be hurt when women are not appreciative of their generosity.

It simply doesn’t occur to them to see women as people and not as bodies, beautiful or ugly or deserving or not deserving of men’s love. They don’t see that their view too is all about Men, because they believe it is a Man’s World and women can be very satisfied and lead fulfilling life if they made men’s convenience their life purpose.

They might also believe that everybody (not just those who can enforce it) has the right to decide what in women’s bodies is condemnable or controversial, moral or immoral, shameful or shameless, excusable, obscene, vulgar etc.

Women who ignore or disagree with this view are viewed as leading selfish lives devoid of men’s approval or worse, ‘men’s respect’ (though some of us might consider them Empowered). Which is why misogynists view women who do not wear traditional clothing as a threat to Patriarchy.

2. Another is a seemingly Modern Mindset where one hears claims like ‘I love women’.  

Why do they love women?

Because women are beautiful. Women are hot. They are perplexed when some women are not delighted (forget grateful, not even glad) to be loved by them. They admire a thing of beauty – and all women are beautiful.

This view does not see women as individuals.

But the world would be so boring (for them) if there were no women in it. They are fine with women ‘flaunting’ their bodies (the default is ‘covered’, if it is not covered, then the body it is attached to, has no rights over it). Beauty is to be beheld. So women should be free to enjoy the appreciation when they go ahead and ‘show off’. (Not covering is automatically ‘showing off’ or even consent)

Those who hold this view have been questioned by women and media for making statements like, “I love women!!” and clearly didn’t get why this was found offensive by some women. It wasn’t even about women. It was about what men loved. What kind of skin colours, hair volume and texture, clothing etc they preferred in women. What makes women attractive (to men). What women should do to win a man’s approval. Isn’t it awesome/fortunate to be born women in a world where men just can’t do without women.

This view does not talk about rights or respect and generally views male attention and approval as empowering for women.

3. A third kind of objectification is the blatant objectification where women and women’s bodies are viewed as man’s properties and dangerous for social harmony and are best kept covered, locked up, denied voices and rights. This view is generally criticised and those who hold it are viewed by all, including the other two above, as misogynists.

But for those who hold this view of women, there is no other way of life.Their honor lies in ensuring their cows, homes, women, crops etc are kept safe from other men. It’s all about men. Men own everything including women and their lives and their bodies.

* * *

Finally here’s a comment that comes close to what Deepikia Padukone probably feels.

I am astonished by TOI tweet. Would you react same if your genitals are being discussed in public.

I wonder if all those who don’t understand, would be fine if the parts of their bodies or lives and choices that are ‘not covered’ were to be viewed as ‘flaunting’ and were open to public scrutiny, leering, commenting and judgment. Though ofcourse their preferences are no reason for Deepika or anybody else to tolerate the same.

What do you think?

Why do societies get away with women being denied the ownership of their own bodies, covered, uncovered, attractive or unappealing (to men)?

Related:

The full extent of what urban India believes about menstruation is extraordinary

 Gujarat Police urges girls to stop wearing jeans, shorts

“So why do we wear clothes again??”

A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of “wear what you like”

Why do Indian women like to wear western clothes?

What women ‘choose’ to wear…

Weird, funny facts about Misogynists.

And maybe it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man?

Sarika shared this image [from here] of a child with bandaged head and arm, a bruised eye and some red colour to indicate blood near his mouth and on the bandage. He is holding a placard that says, “I argued with my wife”

The image, also being shared on facebook, is titled – ‘fancy Dress Competition WINNER’

Would it be funny if it was a girl saying she argued with her husband? Why not?

Because we believe that this could actually happen to a woman? And because despite social tolerance to domestic violence we do not think Domestic Violence against women is a joke.

So do we think domestic violence agianst men is a joke?

No. So, maybe we think it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man? And if it does happen – then the man had better not talk about it or risk being seen as a joke or as unmanly.

Links:

That ‘joke’ about violence? It’s not funny.

दुल्हन मुस्कुराई और अपने देवर का परिचय अपनी सहेलियो से करवाया…

Why We Laugh With Kapil at Things That Are Not Funny at All

Chetan Bhagat’s Marriage Tips – Only for men. Just for fun, on a lighter note.

What misogynists dream and joke about.

What about girls who are not very academic? Must they be condemned to forced marriages?

A Guest Post by Wordssetmefreee

Are freedom and fundamental rights only reserved for those who are academic or enjoy professional success?

Aarti brings up a good point in her comment in response to this post – How can forced marriages be prevented when the person being married off is dependent on the people forcing them to be married off?

What about girls who are not very academic? Must they be condemned to forced marriages? Are freedom and fundamental rights only reserved for those who are academic or enjoy professional success?  This does not make logical sense – every human being must have the same rights – but let’s look at how this is possible in other societies and what the barriers are in India.

In Western societies (I live in the US and can speak for the US at least), a girl who is not very academic can still be independent, make her own decisions, and enjoy the same fundamental rights (as others who are academically or professionally successful) because she can,

-      Work in McDonalds or Target or Walmart along with numerous other girls like herself, without anyone making unwelcome advances, passing rude remarks, checking her out, or making her feel uncomfortable.

-       She can work as a nanny, babysitter, or tutor or a cook without fear of getting harassed by the kids’ dad or other male members of the family, who could get reported for harassment.

-       She can clean houses without relatives and family judging her to the point of disowning her for bringing shame on the family.

-       She can deliver pizza, drive a bus or work for a limo service, because the companies that hire her are focusing on the business not on her physical attributes and they want reliable drivers with a clean driving record, so again because she can be safe doing what numerous other women are doing.

-       She can work on an assembly line along with hundreds of other male and female workers.

-       She can work in multiple part time jobs.

-       She can work late hours along with numerous other people who work the night shift to make ends meet, and not have people think she’s ‘asking for trouble’.

-       She can go out by herself in public places, shop, spend her money, use the ATM, etc., without street harassment.

-       She can rent out her own space without landlords and landladies giving her a hard time.

(For all those who think I’m trying to say Western society is perfect and devoid of sexism or misogyny, I’m not.  I’m only talking about work options, public spaces, and non-academic work environments for women.)

Now, why can’t an Indian girl or woman who is not academic or professional do this? 

I keep asking myself this question – why is this email writer in the grip of her parents/relatives/family etc?  Why can’t this email writer have the same freedom and fundamental rights that Nina (my baby sitter when my kids were little) or Steph (the lady who cleans my friend’s house) or Amanda (the 20 something girl who works at the McDonalds near my house) has?

Trying to answer some of my own questions here.  Indian women don’t have the same options because –

-       No safe working environments in non-academic jobs

-       A sense of ‘shame’ (‘Such jobs are only for the poor.  Middle class women, if they are not professionals, must get married to be financially supported’)

-       Lack of acceptance among families who will actively oppose a daughter’s decision to take up a job in a factory or as a nanny or at a restaurant.

-       Lack of employers who will focus on the business and productivity and will  be interested in hiring productive workers regardless of gender etc.

-       Lack of supportive work environments (even if the employer is supportive, male co-workers can engage in sexual harassment and get away with it).

-       Lack of strict laws against sexual harassment or lack of proper judicial process in such cases.

-       General resentment when women enter unconventional fields for the first time (‘she’s taking away jobs from families’)

The above barriers are twofold. One set of barriers are created by our society and our way of thinking.  Another set are created by our government (judicial processing of harassment cases).  The latter are much harder to overcome.  We could at least start with the former?  We can start by changing our attitudes, perhaps?

In changing our attitudes, we must,

-       Overcome class differences and class feelings.  Respect anyone who has a job and is using an honest means to make a living.  Respect every job.  Respect every human being, no matter what their job is, because they are doing what they need to do to survive.

-       Be willing to be uncomfortable and not always expect a cushy life supported by parents (here in the US, kids who grow up in middle class families, when they finish high school, some of them go to college, others go on to jobs.  Both sets of kids struggle on their own initially to pay bills.  They may not have a lot of comforts until about 5 to 7 years later.  They expect to go through this struggle before they stand on their own two feet.)

-       Make public places and work environments safer for women.  Speak up!  If you are being harassed, yell at the person, shame him.  Then that person is somewhat unlikely to harass someone else in the future.  Nothing is gained by remaining silent.  ALSO – Stand up for other women being harassed.

Not sure what else we could be doing to make our country better for women.  Any further ideas and suggestions are welcome.

Related Posts:

This 27 year old woman could not be forcibly married off or silenced or shamed.

A comment: One more thing, had I been financially independent I would have never got married.

“You can listen to your parents and be unhappy or you can go against them and feel guilty – those are your choices?”

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

At what point should educated, 21st century women who can think liberally for themselves, take responsibility for themselves…

“This man is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

“I know my dad is short tempered but he was never this aggressive until my relatives started making him over think about my marriage.”

My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

 

“Her husband has told her she can leave if she wishes, she does not have a steady income of her own.”

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.

I think this is a positive. This simple statement makes so much sense,

“Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage.” 

It should start a much needed dialogue and hopefully influence in some small way, the way women’s bodies are viewed. As of now, everybody in India seems to know who owns women’s bodies – including the bodies of women in public spaces.

I also hope we hear more about how offensive it is to those who are directly affected, than to the brothers, fathers and husbands of some of them. We also must consider the possibility of some women not having willing male relatives to feel outrage of their behalf.

At the same time, it’s not surprising that many Indians can’t quite understand what  Deepika Padukone could possible mean. Because, the point for them is just that: She should not forget that she is a woman, and has breasts and a cleavage.

These comments on the internet should be read without anger or outrage,   because those who are saying this, probably believe what they are saying.

1. For this commentator – It’s all about Men.

Why on the first place show ur body to Men? Beauty is not skin show only . Deepika must realise it someday.

What men find beautiful. And what women must realise about men’s preference, i.e. women’s skin showing versus women’s skin covered. 

It’s not surprising that they think this way – because even when we talk about the Skewed Gender Ratio, we hear it’s a concern only because men need wives. And when we talk about protecting women from sexual assaults, it’s because they are men’s sisters and daughters. 

When do we hear about women as people with rights and feelings and Bodies of their own?

 

2.

I condemn the TOI article. At the same time, I sincerely think that by showing their physique only, most of these cine-stars make their living. So there is controversy here. I think we should condemn both.

Why do you think is this comment condemning ‘both’?

There is no doubt in his/her mind that a woman ‘showing’ her body is wrong – and that women need approval and deserve condemnation for attempting to view their bodies (and minds) as their own business.

So if a woman steps out of her home, and doesn’t keep in mind the preferences of men in the street outside, what else does she expect?

 

 

3. 

This comment is why objectification of women needs a post, many posts, maybe a tag. We should talk more about all the ways in which women are objectified. And if and how it influences women’s lives and safety.

what about item numbers ? what about leela ? dam maro dam . They show if they get money , when no mone?y. Rape and crime against women are increasing and they play a important part in that.

Also, rapes and crime against women are not increasing. The silence of survivors is ‘decreasing’. The confidence to report rape is increasing.The fear of being shamed, blamed and named is decreasing.

* * *

Many more misogynistic but mostly heart felt opinions on the links below.

Do these opinions matter? Do they influence women’s lives? I am sure those who hold these opinions do control the lives of ‘their women’ – their sisters, wives and daughters.  I am confident that Deepika Padukone’s assertion is a step in the right direction. Specially since she did get a male friend or relative to speak on her behalf.

Deepika Padukone Should Consider it a Compliment: ‘Defence’ of Cleavage Tweet

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily; Bollywood stands in support

OMG: Deepika Padukone exposes cleavage!

Some related Posts:

A double mastectomy in a world where a woman is seen as ‘packet of behinds, thighs, hair and lips’.

That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.

Kangana Ranaut’s interview.

If pre-marital sex if here to stay, then so are HPVs and other STDs.

My skirt is not your license, pervert. – A splash of my life…

 

 

‘She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (he tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.’

What should you do if you are sure someone is in an abusive relationship but they believe you can’t understand or they don’t need your help, though they do talk about how unhappy they are? 

When do attempts to help and support become interference, and what would you view as indifference

What prevents domestic/intimate partner (or any) abuse victims from seeing even the most obvious abuse? 

I think, one could share this link with them: Is your relationship healthy? 

And then try not to judge them for not doing what we think they ought to do. (Like take control of their lives)

And then we could try and be there for them – not easy but I don’t think there is anything anybody can do without this – because trying to force them to act is not too different from what the abuser is doing – and the abuser does not just use force. Also, they often have time, inclination, self-interest, social permission to control the victim.

And how do we know we are right? I think there are some obvious non negotiables – but beyond that how do we know what would be the right thing to do?

I think the victim has to be the one to decide. All we can do is let them know we are there for them when they need us.

What do you think?

Sharing an email. 

Hi IHM,

One of my very close relatives is in an abusive relationship.

She is a very smart educated woman, she has great presence of mind.

She also has a one year old son.

She also has a good well – paying job for the moment.

She has a husband who keeps leaving his job and will not stick to any of them.

She believes that her husband has got into job troubles since marrying her (because he repeatedly tells her this) and that she has been unlucky for their entire family.

She supports the family now but believes that she is the reason for their troubles in the first place.

Both of them have fearful tempers and talk abusively during fights.  He hits her, he has kicked her a couple of times that I know of.

She believes that she provokes him into hitting her – this is also reinforced by his family – her mother in law and sisters in law keep repeating this.

When I talk to her and ask her to come out of the relationship, she says I have a happy marriage and I will never be able to understand what is going on in theirs.

She always wants to give him another chance.

What can I do for her???

Any practical inputs from you or the blog readers would be very much welcome.

Related Posts:

If you had to to say something to inspire a victim of domestic violence to walk out, what would you say?

An email. Please do not immediately write it off and say “separation”, “legal action”… is there anything she can do BEFORE she can resort to that?

An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…

Closing that chapter – just as if nothing happened – Careless Chronicles

If she doesn’t seem to see your logic, would you support her the way she can be supported?

“I need suggestions – these girls are ruining their lives with their stupid ideas about love.”

Because we can still be honest WITHOUT saying, “Gosh woman what is wrong with you?”

Why do we never talk about sisterhood, about women defending one another and supporting each other?

“Let me give you the reason I asked for advise here instead of talking with my family.”

 

An email: ‘Dark childhood and other thoughts.’

Sharing a heartbreaking email from a courageous young woman, titled – ‘Dark childhood and other thoughts’.

Do consider:

1. The cousin knew he could get away with the sexual abuse. 

2. The mother saw the abusive husband’s anger as a bigger threat than the child’s trauma.

3. The mother seemed to have chosen Silence as the solution – probably because that is how patriarchal societies have traditionally dealt with this and many other crimes against women and girl children. 

4. I also think that fear of any medical evidence was all that mattered – so long as nobody knew, there was no obvious loss of virginity and no known premarital pregnancy, sexual abuse could be pretended away.  

5. For many, child sexual abuse is more about shame and family-honor than a lost childhood. Because – girl child’s life and happiness is not seen as important, her future in laws’s approval/marriageability (or ‘honor’) is. 

6. All this is convenient for the abuser – who obviously understood, even as an adolescent, that patriarchy tolerated such crimes.

The email writer says, ‘I desperately need a closure.’  What do you think would help? 

Dear IHM,

I am a young girl from Nepal, living abroad by myself at the moment. Nepali society, predominantly Hindu, is largely similar to Indian patriarchal society. I grew up listening to relatives giving my son-less parents open advice on how to conceive a boy. I was overjoyed when my younger sister was born when I was about 8, but I couldn’t see the same look of happiness on neither my parents’ face nor the relatives.

This is the first time I have ever written this, and it gives me chills down my spine, but I was sexually abused as a child, starting from age four or five (might have been younger). He was my maternal cousin, the only son, who everyone in my family so loved.

He is older than me by 8 years, but he kept on abusing me until he was an adult (18). My mum’s brother’s family lived in a different city, and we visited them about once or twice a year, and that is when he would secretly take me to this room, give me some book (I loved reading) and sexually abuse me. I was so young that I had no idea what was going on initially.

In the following years, I was terrified and kept quiet. He wouldn’t say anything during the whole process but just play with my privates and try to penetrate me. I remember wishing as a child that this was not reality and that I would one day wake up from this horrible nightmare. And hence when I was about seven or eight, I told this to my mother. She was shocked but she would insist I do not to tell this to my father. She took me to the hospital under fake name to get myself checked. But after the results came out okay, she never did anything ever about it. Now that I come to think of it, I think she didn’t really believe me and she loved the son of her only brother (my abuser) too much.

I dreaded going to visit their family annually but it continued. I remember asking the innocent child in myself on why he picked me, among all the cousins. Did he know that the marriage of my parents was abusive and unsuccessful and that my mother was weak? Once he was about 17, he moved to my city and started living with our family for his college studies. He continued abusing me for a year or two under the roofs of my own house.

One day, I was sick of all this (that was the last day of abuse) and  I got up and yelled that I would tell my mum everything (I had already, years before, but like I wrote above, she didn’t really do anything). Once I faced her however, I couldn’t say anything. I was already let down by her once. I didn’t say anything to anybody but I stopped talking to my cousin. I didn’t talk to him for about 4 years, and everybody in my misogynist family circle was talking about how I was a rebel child for not talking to my own elder cousin, how I was not respecting elders, etc.

Today, we talk occasionally. We have never discussed about it. My mom hasn’t said anything about it to anybody, let alone him. I hate him for ruining my innocent childhood. I still hate him with burning rage. I especially hate how he is worshiped by my relatives circle because he is the only son and a doctor. I hate how he has managed to disguise himself as a loving, responsible man in all these years. The only reason why I didn’t do anything about it after I was an adult was because I thought he was young when he did that to me. But now when I think of it, his last abuse towards me, for sure, was when he was 18+. Not too young to know that it’s WRONG to exploit a child.

I hate the guts of my mother who couldn’t even protect her own child. Now, after all these years, I still think about it often and think about what to do. I desperately need a closure.

I still turned out to be a thoughtful, fierce, independent individual despite my horrible childhood. And ever since I was old enough to understand things, I was never abused or anything as such.

- Need a Closure

Related Posts:

“…if this thing comes out my husband will think my wife is after all not that ‘pure’ or is not that ‘untouched flower’”

‘In our families, we don’t take this kind of thing outside,’

An email: Satyamev Jayate touched a deep wound. After almost 30 years I broke the silence.

Here’s why I think the society should not obsess over a woman’s virginity.

Sexual abuse victim thrown out of school for being a bad influence on other students.

Society cannot afford to have live sex bombs who, if let loose, are a potential threat…

In Rape Culture, we understand that if the rapist was living alone, away from his native place, he could lose control over himself.

Teacher arrested for raping six year student.

Here’s why a 6-year-old rape survivor was ordered to marry alleged rapist’s 8 year old son.

62-year-old Indian man admits to sexually touching sleeping woman on plane.

Tulika shared the link below with this message:

“Treatment of sexual assault in Western Society – 

I request you to publish this news regarding sexual assault and how actually it should be dealt in a civilized society. What actually culture and civilisation means and gives support to its member.”

What do you think would have been the first reactions if this crime had taken place in India?

Indian man admits to sexually touching sleeping woman on plane

NEW YORK:  A 62-year-old Indian man has pleaded guilty to sexually touching a woman seated next to him aboard a flight from Houston to Newark and faces two years in prison.

The accused, Devender Singh, a resident of Louisiana

…  The charge carries a maximum potential penalty of two years in prison and a USD 250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.  … Singh was seated next to a woman who occupied a window seat on a United Airlines flight from Houston to Newark. While the plane was in the air, the woman fell asleep and awoke to find him kissing her face with his hand inside her shirt.

After pushing Singh off of her and telling him to get away, the woman complained to a flight crew member about the incident and asked that the police be present when the plane landed.

The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over all sexual abuse cases that occur on aircraft in flight in the US.

 

These TOI comments reflect how sexual crimes are viewed by many Indians,

1. Many seem to consider sexual assaults a natural outcome of men finding women sexually attractive.

Airliners has to allot seats in such a way to prevent this type of incidents, urge and attraction is God’s creation between two sexes. Our elders out of evolution and experience they have advocated,wearing veil,wearing non explosive dress code as advised by elderly intelligent people,monogamy,advise giving respect to fair sex and exhibiting their private parts publicly.

Fact: A response to: Why we think women activists should change their attitude of “wear what you like” [Link]

2. Others believe it’s young men who commit such crimes because they have no control over their ‘natural instincts’.

Hahahahah such a disgusting and funny thing i read today !! :v :p 60+ yrs old person hahha Chokra jawaan re jawaan re !! [the boy is young, is young]

Fact: What makes Men Rape? [link]

3. The idea that sexual assaults are caused by a man’s inability to ‘control their instincts’  is deep rooted.

A very shameful act that too from a 62 year old. When will people learn to control their instincts? The punishment is good and he deserves it for putting India and Indians to shame.

Fact: The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them. [link]

Why don’t we hear any talk about the requirement for consent in any sexual activity? Maybe because we fear that’s Sex Education?

Also, media campaigns could help create awareness about how often Sexual Crimes are not crimes of ‘lust’ or ‘natural urges’ but of hate, aggression and revenge (as in ‘Teaching a lesson’ to the woman) and sometimes of simply not knowing that any sexual act without consent is a crime.

Related Posts:

Rapist said that coming from Afghanistan meant he didn’t understand what ‘consent’ was.

“I am safe because I’m very careful in the way I behave and dress in public, on the streets.”

“Sometimes it seems like every single thing I do has the potential to be something ‘provocative’.” 

Have a Good Time in India, Sister (Gounderbrownie)

She started a fight between two men?

The night I was not an easy prey.

‘“Why would this girl lie? After all she is taking the blame on herself”, said the police officer to the criminal infront of me.’What’s the best way to fight for your rights and freedoms and to prevent Talibanization of India?

Allahabad girl Aarti Yadav beats harasser, sets bike on fire

“I will not sit back and allow the image of India’s men to be tarnished by an article that does not articulate other sides to India.”

“… people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent”

Why should all acts of sexual harassment be taken seriously, even when there is no grievous physical injury?

What did Sharad Yadav mean by, ‘Who amongst us has not followed girls?’