Question 1: Why are misogynists so eager to tell women how to be better daughters in law and wives?
Answer: Because Patriarchy can’t survive a day without men’s wives and daughters in law sacrificing their lives, dreams, freedom and happiness to feed it.
Question 2: How does Patriarchy define Equality, Positive Attitude, Respect, Advice, Sensitivity and Communication?
The answer lies in this link (from The Times of India) shared by Sandhya .
The nagging, meddling mother-in-law is often the cause of worry and the central idea that can help better the situation is to have a positive attitude and to show respect to the older
Quotes from the article in blockquotes.
“The older woman is probably just trying her best to fit into her role as a mom-in-law.”
IHM: The problem here is not a lack of Positive Attitude, but Patriarchy, which demands that women fit into ‘roles’ of daughters, wives and mothers of sons/mothers of daughters; depending (emotionally and otherwise) on their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons.
Advising people to change to fit into Patriarchal roles doesn’t seem to have worked till now, and never will. Who is made happy by these Rules and Roles? People, including mothers of Indian Budhape ka Sahara, need lives of their own, freedom to pursue their own happiness and freedom to have and to live their own aspirations, self reliance, including financial self reliance (i.e. equal share in whatever they and the father in law have made together).
Obedient, sensitive and respectful daughters in law who give up their lives, peace of mind, personal freedom, happiness etc for
their family for patriarchy are likely to grow older with similar expectations from their daughters in law. They are also more likely to see sex-selection as a traditionally and culturally accepted method for ensuring mothers-of-sons are rewarded with obedient daughters in law, while mothers-of-paraya dhan have to pamper their Sons in law. Why not everybody be themselves and didn’t try to fit into patriarchal roles.
“Try to treat your mother-in-law and your mother equally. For example if you give your mother a birthday gift, then give your mother-in-law a gift for her birthday too. If you have children, then visit your mother and your mother-in-law with similar frequency.”
IHM: If equality means exact same rules for everybody then what makes us make different rules for Indian sons in law?
From what I understand,
1.The daughter in law’s parents send gifts for her in laws.
2. The daughter in law’s parents in law have a say in when the grand children are born.
3. The daughter in laws parents pay for the expenses when her in laws’ grandchildren are born,
4. The grandchildren carry the in laws family names,
5. In patriarchal Joint Families the grand children live with the in laws, where generally Indian daughters’ parents can’t come and stay with her.
The fact that the lady has spent a significant part of her life raising her son may make her a little sensitive when another person becomes the centre of attraction of her son’s life.
IHM: But don’t all mothers spend a significant part of their lives raising their children? Aren’t daughters raised by mothers?
As mentioned in the point above, the problem is not ‘Sensitivity’ the problem is Patriarchy.
Treat your mother-in-law with respect. Consider her older and wiser. She may have been through a lot of hardships in her life.
IHM: This is what I meant in the first point. So it is to be accepted, in fact expected that more than 50% of Indian women ‘must have been through a lot of hardships’? And we should to continue to preach the Rules that have made this possible – rules like ‘Consider her older and wiser’. If older was automatically wiser, why did we reach this point?
Those who lead content, happy, fulfilled, independent lives and mothers who enjoyed motherhood and had children because they truly wanted to have them – women who may not have faced any hardships – they don’t deserve Respect? Why do women have to have suffered to be Respected? Maybe there is a problem with the way we define respect? Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.
Women who do not give birth to male children, do not need this Respect from their Sons in law?
Though most daughters-in-law are welcomed into the family with open arms, do not get disheartened if it does not happen. Give them time to know you better.
IHM: This would be easy if she has a life of her own (can’t stress that enough). Friends of her own, her own family, a career and some time spent away from those who are not welcoming her with open arms can make ‘giving them time’ easier.
Friends and acquaintances, most Indian daughters in law are discouraged from staying in touch with, are a support system that make the ‘hardships in her life’ easier to deal with.
If she prefers to sit around being waited on hand and foot, then enlist your husband to help prepare meals and clean up.
IHM: Why does a healthy adult expect to be ‘waited on hand and foot’? Because when she was going through many hardships in her young life, giving up her happiness and personal freedom, she was told that’s the way it has always been, that’s a woman’s destiny and she was promised she could expect the same from her male child’s spouse. Why ask the daughter in law to continue the patriarchal tradition of sacrifice, unhappiness and misogyny?
If waiting hand and foot is really considered necessary the son could do that and of course he could request the wife to help if and when she can.
Try to keep mother-in-law informed; call and let her know about important events. Keep her in the loop...
IHM: If there is communication, information is automatically shared; if there is a wish to keep some information private, that should be respected. Sometimes information is withheld to resist interference, control or ‘remote control’.
Your mother-in-law has years of experience. … She is only trying to be helpful.
IHM: Whose advice do people avoid taking? How often is advice given as a command? Who would you never ask for advice?
What makes some of us insist upon giving unasked for and unwelcome advice, so much that we are hurt if our advice is not sought or followed? What makes us believe that our advice is needed? Does loving someone mean we should ‘improve’ them?
Allow your mother-in-law to take care of your children. For them their grandchildren are more important than their own kids sometimes. If she wants to, let her spoil them a little.
IHM: All mothers in law may not wish to take care of their grand children and that’s fine too. I think it would help if we talked more about parents raising their own children and letting the children parent their children.
Continuing to ask the Indian daughters in law to ‘Please Adjust’ reinforces the traditional belief that it’s okay for in laws (or ladke wale) to have unreasonable expectations from their daughters in law.
Try and talk out things with the family. If something that someone said hurt you, do not keep it bottled up inside you. Discuss with your husband and your mother-in-law any slights or snubs and how it makes you feel.
IHM: Communication sounds like a good advice. One should also be clear about what is non-negotiable.