Can a Veetodu Maapilai rightfully ask for the 4th coffee of the day or whatever he wants in his in-laws’ house?

Veetodu Maapilai or Ghar Jamai is a man living in his spouse’s parents’ home. Since we think only women must live in their spouse’s parents’ homes – he is likely to be labeled a JKG.

Somewhere in the blogosphere…

“There are empirical arguments against Veetodu Maapilai…”

1.

“There tends to be some friction between a son-in-law and father-in-law. As between MIL and DIL. But testosterone is a powerful hormone and women are thought to handle conflicts better.”

I agree about the presence of friction but I don’t think women handle conflicts better. If women-handling-the-conflicts-while-men-manage-their-testosterone-levels arrangement worked, we would have welcomed baby girls with the same joy we welcome baby boys.

We discuss the symptoms – suicides by young married women, dowry, bride burning, female foeticide and infanticide, ladke-wale-ladki-wale attitude (Do click!), domestic violence etc while avoiding looking at the real issue .

The conflicts (and the terrible consequences) will continue until all married  adults are free to live where ever it works best for them, because only then will half the children not be  seen as a challenging responsibility, to be trained to serve another family; a daughter’s parents will continue to be forced to bribe the husband’s family with dowry to accept her servitude.

Whenever daughters in law have had a choice, they have avoided these conflicts and moved out of their in laws homes (and this, despite the terrible social stigma).

Most women say they would rather live in poverty than live with mental stress.

2.

“Can man X rightfully ask for the 4th coffee of the day or whatever he wants in his in-laws’ house? The kitchen belongs not to his wife but his MIL.”

So we know why,

1. Daughters in law must not eat until other family members  in their husband’s home have eaten. [It’s not about hot hot chappaties]

2. In many parts of the country a daughter’s parents must not even drink a glass of water in their daughter’s marital home.

3. Daughters in law have to take permission if they want their friends or family to have a meal at their husband’s parents’ house.

Breaking these rules can bring disapproval. The disapproval, justified or oppressive, can bring ‘dishonor’ to a daughter’s parents.

4. And that is one of the reasons why daughters are seen as a liability. Daughters (paraya dhan) bring obligations, while sons (budhape ka sahara) bring home a  care giver for their parents.

So long as we think it’s wrong for a Veetodu Maapilai to live in his spouse’s parents’ home while it is the duty of his spouse to live in his parents’ home, we are unlikely to see Indian newly weds being blessed with ‘May you have healthy children‘, because ‘children’ would include daughters. 😐

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112 thoughts on “Can a Veetodu Maapilai rightfully ask for the 4th coffee of the day or whatever he wants in his in-laws’ house?

  1. I have seen couples, friends, my extended family wanting girl child not considering whether she would stay or leave for her husband’s house. The want is simply because of the love for the gender, love for the baby girl.

    If you see adopted children, it turns out to be even positive for the girl child. Some reports I read some time ago said, there were only 56 boys for every 100 girls.

    In my home-state Assam, as we all know, we have never had social issue such as female foeticides, dowry deaths, Sati etc. My uncle (Father’s real brother) has four girls and we have never considered it any bad. My sisters have got all the love and each of them today is a happy individual. There is no question that either uncle or his wife was at any kind of receiving end. Ya, there was a longing for a boy child just to maintain diversity.

    Also, the North East has a lot of tribes and communities, which are matrilinial.

    India should perhaps study North East and the history of its socio cultural heritage and diversity to understand and probably find some solutions to issues that you normally highlight in your blogs. (to which I mostly cant relate).

    There would be learnings from Assam and the North East and these learnings should be brought to school books around the country.

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    • Durlov we have a law that dos not permit adoption of a boy if the family already has a son, and that of a girl if the family already has a daughter – this was done to ensure all babies get adopted ( I guess), but from what I know boys are in demand not girls.

      Don’t you think having four daughters in the hope of a male child does indicate a preference for male child?

      //Also, the North East has a lot of tribes and communities, which are matrilineal. // – I have heard about this and I feel maybe this is the reason why daughters are appreciated as much as sons are? (If they are – because I am not sure… I had a friend from Gauhati and his mother fasted for his long life, nobody fasted for his sister’s long life. He said this was taken as normal, even his sister wanted that he should have a long life and didn’t care if nobody prayed for her long life. They were rather religious so this fasting must have been important. I thought his mother fasted for her son, not him – if the son was some one else, she would have fasted for that son….)

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      • Firstly, it is true that girls outnumber by a big margin in the adoption demand. Secondly, it is not because of lack of girls in a family.

        You are right about four girls for a boy. You need diversity right. So thats not because of preference for a boy but its preference for diversity.

        Ya, I agree that preference for boys is not completely absent in Assam. It is an ugly truth, but you wont hear any of the evils in Assam- dowry death, female foeticide, wife beating etc are unheard of.

        Me – Durlov this ugly truth is the symptom of all the other ills. HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED, WHY IS THE PREFERENCE FOR BOYS NOT COMPLETELY ABSENT? OKAY, JUST ANSWER THIS SIMPLE QUESTION – WHY ARE BOYS PREFERRED?

        Its not that we have great GEI figures. In fact our figures are lower than the national average. So it just points that both the genders need not be financially independent to be wanted and needed by the society.

        Me – I agree, financial independence helps but mental attitudes and mindsets matter much, much more. If a girl knows nobody has a right to ill treat her, she is less likely to be ill treated.

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      • 1. I am the youngest of 4 daughters. We were pushed to achieve, and no opportunity was denied us. My parents ensured we were independent women. BUT, there were 4 daughters, and there was hope for a son at every stage — from the paternal side mainly. In fact, my maternal grandmum is said to have thrown the mother of all tantrums at not finding a penis on me.
        2. I’ve seen a few VM/GJ. All of them are there because it’s financially more lucrative for them. They are either handling the wife’s family business or some such.
        3. Growing up, I’d insist I wanted a VM. Boy, am I glad no one took me seriously 🙂

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        • UmmOn I have a younger sister and then a brother, my mom wanted a son and she was really glad when my brother was born – but I would have been fine with one more sister 🙂

          The bias is so strong that when a young child died in a drowning accident everybody said it was worse because this was a boy born after two daughters! It was almost as if they wished it wasn’t the son but one of the daughters who should have died. Such things and such attitudes really bother me…

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    • “Also, the North East has a lot of tribes and communities, which are matrilinial.”
      Yes, so when the society is patriarchal we ask for a son and when matriarchal we ask for a daughter, to remain in position of power! How does this tell that we are being great in North East?

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    • Wao, what world are we living in………

      One family is not representative of the whole. The notion of diversity is interesting coz’ when ever a second born is a male child it is heard “now the family is complete.” I haven’t heard anyone say a family is complete if the second born is also a girl. Why was there a need for four daughters??? I’ll go only with the karmic explanation that they had to redeem their karma….

      …there were only 56 boys for every 100 girls.

      Just give it a thought: More baby girls are abandoned than bay boys.

      It was just two days ago: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Babies-swapped-at-Guj-hospital-no-takers-for-girl-child/articleshow/6016330.cms

      About crime against women in Assam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTnjAlqQ7JU

      http://www.indianexpress.com/news/assam-rise-in-crimes-against-women/482863/

      The mainland India has learned anything from the North east or not but NE is riding high on main land trends. I grew up in Assam. I am a north Indian from the western frontier. I had heard my mom say wao, this place is so good for women they can dance in Bhihu with unrelated men and no body bothers them. If they were in Punjab Haryana, men would have turned them red by pinching them…..Same she says about Navratri Grabas. I think it still holds true. Jats are one of the pretty messed up lot…no offense to anyone I have few in my own family……….

      For how to raise devoted son follow: http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/desi-parenting-raising-devoted-sons/

      How claim modernity by raising condused daughter to complement the whole package: http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/desi-parenting-raising-confused-daughters/

      The whole process of VM/GJ or JKG is the emasculate the man. Emasculation equals disempowerment. It is no different for women, they are already emasculated and then they are futher disempowered when they move in to a new household- devoid of support system at the mercy of the in-laws as high premium is placed on remaining married.

      Interesting part is to pay attention to the concept of “Mardani Aurat” Masculine woman. One who is BITCH, BOY I’M IN-CHARGE HERE.

      I keep wondering What was Subhardra Kumari Chauhan thinking when she wrote Khoob Ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi…

      Why could’nt Rani Jhansi fight just as herself???

      Peace,

      Desi Girl

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    • Hi IHM, we had many arguments on joint family and my preference for it has been a very recent evolutionary one. This does not bring out the advantage of a woman in a joint family… that will be my next.

      You may want to have a look and comment.

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    • life of a male at inlaws is definitely better than that of a female at her inlaws place. we live separately from both the inlaws but whenever we visit his parents, i am expected to be in kitchen for some amount of time (some times they would ask directly, sometimes indirectly by their behaviour) Husbands elder brother’s wife would suggest that women eat after every male and MIL has eaten, which infuriates me becoz my husband and i both being busy professionals, usually get a 1-2 day leave, which means not only both of us are tired after putting up extra office work to compensate for leave & long hours of driving to his place but also have to rush back to more work. the whole idea of taking this leave was relaxing and lazying aroud, but while my husband would be in his most comfortable Tees and shorts, putting his feet up, i would be dressed in a ‘bahu’ appropriate attire complete with all accessories like bindi (appropriate size, mind u, when i wore a small bindi once MIL immediately asked to wear a big bindi as she couldnt clearly see the small one) chudi, sindoor etc..all this prevents me from feeling at home plus this kitchen thing (i have always hated kitchen work…never worked at kitchen while i was unmarried and have a maid at our present house for this purpose)

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      • life of a male at inlaws is definitely better than that of a female at her inlaws place. we live separately from both the inlaws but whenever we visit his parents, i am expected to be in kitchen for some amount of time (some times they would ask directly, sometimes indirectly by their behaviour) Husbands elder brother’s wife would suggest that women eat after every male and MIL has eaten, which infuriates me becoz my husband and i both being busy professionals, usually get a 1-2 day leave, which means not only both of us are tired after putting up extra office work to compensate for leave & long hours of driving to his place but also have to rush back to more work. the whole idea of taking this leave was relaxing and lazying aroud, but while my husband would be in his most comfortable Tees and shorts, putting his feet up, i would be dressed in a ‘bahu’ appropriate attire complete with all accessories like bindi (appropriate size, mind u, when i wore a small bindi once MIL immediately asked to wear a big bindi as she couldnt clearly see the small one) chudi, sindoor etc..all this prevents me from feeling at home plus this kitchen thing (i have always hated kitchen work…never worked at kitchen while i was unmarried and have a maid at our present house for this purpose) CONTINUING FROM HERE…

        When we went to visit our house (which though we have visited only once together in our 1.5 years of marriage) my husband was still there in tees and shorts lazying around while his MIL was happily preparing best of the meals on her menu…with the help of ….his FIL. the difference is that this time even i was lazying around in tees and shorts and nobody had any objection to that! 🙂

        (i dont intend to say that we shouldnt help our elders but that work should be equally divided and everybodys feelings be respected equally)

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  2. Oooh – god forbid men should have to live with any conflict, or without a 4th coffee. Now women – women can adjust, whether it is to working in the kitchen while the hubby puts his feet up or to a little bit of bride-burning. GAH.

    Me – True. I wish testosterone and women’s gentle nature (??) wouldn’t be used to justify social issues… 😐

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  3. Joint family system is really like a jail for both the husband and wife, no matter who lives with the other’s parents. You got to tread very carefully for fear of stepping on land mines that can lead to huge sparks of not following this ritual and that tradition. When two adult get married, they need to be treated like adults and should be the head of the households and that is only possible when they live on their own after they get married.

    Me – I agree Sands!!

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    • I totally agree with Sands. My opinion exactly. We need to educate the youth about living on their own. I’m sure a majority of the youth would have no idea how to and where to pay the electric, the gas and the water bill! 😀

      And it’ll be fun seeing them go grocery shopping and going out to buy milk every morning. That’s a domain that mostly the retired parents do in our society. Sorry, it’s off the topic, but I just had to add this.

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      • Yes yes I agree. Also it needs to be ingrained in everyone’s fat heads that there is nothing wrong in moving out of your parents’ home and getting your own place. There is nothing wrong with a little independence and we are not becoming western or losing our culture by doing so.

        I agree that both the son and the DIL usually are not getting a good deal in a joint family. Especially the son really cares for the wife and wants a healthy relationship with her.

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        • …there is nothing wrong in moving out of your parents’ home and getting your own place.

          It is expensive and you don’t get free of cost baby sitter. What is little tu-tu main- main. Some young couples feel they are entitled to the services of their retired parents. I have seen women locking horns just to stay in the joint household due to these reasons.

          Peace,

          Desi Girl

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  4. ‘Most women say they would rather live in poverty than live with mental stress.’

    Seconding that. I have a richer life without my in-laws ‘riches’.

    I remember the shock and disapproval when I ate with my husband or any of the male in-laws…still, I refused to wait…if I’m hungry, I’m hungry. My stomach would not adjust 🙂

    Oh, and the sons being budape ka sahara is baloney! It’s always the woman taking care, she takes care of people from birth to death, whether it’s siblings, children, seniors or hubby.

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    • Ya perhaps, you are right Stars.

      You guys are in-born inherent nurturers. You guys have the loving outlook, overflowing with ‘mamata’ and the perseverance required to nurture a family. So stick to that and do not try to be the provider also. That is when the confusion and chaos begins – not knowing our roles in society.

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      • I don’t agree with that at all Durlov. Roles and expectations cannot be assigned to gender and qualities like nurturing and loving can come from both daughters and sons.

        Confusion is good…rigid demarcation strangles the spirit.

        There is nothing chaotic if a son takes care of his mother or mother-in-law (or his children) while the wife goes out to earn.

        My point was that the physical burden of caring for is always on the woman of the house…and that is totally unfair.

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        • I disagree, shail and stars. I think we boys are also responsible. That mamata statement was a sarcasm to your vitriol about sons not being the budape ka sahara…

          Me – Durlov all children, sons and daughters must take their responsibilities seriously. They should take their rights seriously too. In our traditional system, who do you think takes care of those parents who do not have sons?
          Also I have seen even when sons are there, it’s the daughters in law who are left to do most of the running around – (working or not working, small children or their own health problems are ignored) Even if their own parents need them – they are required to care for their spouse’s parents first. The threat of being abandoned or of violence is always there. These aren’t odd cases, but the norm. And these do affect the Indian attitude towards wanting sons or daughters.

          Ya I agree that a little bit of confusion is good, and so please refrain from generic statements defaming one of the genders. It only sounds childish. We are two sides of the same coin.

          Me – Durlov this has nothing to do with genders – remember the mothers in law are women, and they have a role to play in looking for daughters in law for themselves, not wives for their sons – and they can’t be blamed either, they were married to men they had no compatibility with and they depend on their children for emotional strength and support. It’s a cycle that has continued for generations and social conditioning and attitudes are deeply entrenched, and we have created fixed roles for people who may or may not fit into them… about generalisations like all men must do this and all women are suited for this…

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        • What about the all the emotional labor that goes unaccounted for- personal cheer leading for our spouses to keep their fragile masculinities intact as if doing their laundaty was not enough…….

          Peace,

          Desi Girl

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      • I think you are a bit confused…On the one hand you are saying girls are wanted (matrilineal society) and on the other you are saying they should stay at home…That means people in the North East only want girls for property…How is that good?

        Even though many societies are matrilineal, they are governed and controlled by men…All major decisions are taken by men so they are no different from non-matrilineal societies…

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        • No Sraboney, decisions are not taken by men. You may not have experienced ML socieities.

          In fact, it is becoming a menace now.. In shillong for instance, the average age of the male population is lower than the average – dangling dangerously at 45-50 years. When they are young, they play football and the guitar, and later they will smoke, drink to an untimely death. (Sorry if I am hurting any of my brothers’ sensibilities, but its an issue that we need to tackle.) The responsibility factor is lesser, driven by the culture, society and history.

          But the fact of the point in the blog is that of lack of acceptance of a female child because of her being required to stay in her husband house. I dont think the society is so calculative, agnostic to faith, cruel and un-emotional in the general sense.

          I am very positive. I would love to have a daughter. She would be the cutest love of my life.

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        • @Durlov: Sure, many MEN (not boys, please) take responsibility for their aged parents and occasionally their wife’s parents.

          But how do they do it, they agree to make place in their homes and wallets, but the PHYSICAL burden of caring is on the wife. She leaves the job and her other pusuits, she does the nursing, cooking, cleaning, ferrying to doctors etc. And also taking a lot of abuse, even if it’s ‘only’ verbal or emotional. I’ve seen it in every home. So that’s not taking real responsibility, is it?

          AFAIK, just about the time the kids fly the nest, and the woman thinks she can now have a life of her own…the seniors enter the nest (if they weren’t there already) and she becomes their nurse and servant. But the magnanimity is ascribed only to the man…he’s supposed to be taking care!

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        • okay take this.

          Let me share a secret. I am heading a department earning pretty well for myself..at a relatively young age.

          (My CEO may not like this but) I am leaving all of it to be with my parents, thinking exactly ‘enough of sharing wallets’, to take the physical burden of leading a simple life, but by being with them physically.

          And I am not the only example.

          Basically my experiences of life do not let me stereotype things like you guys do.

          Me – You mentioned you are married Durlov, I am sure this was a joint decision. Best wishes.

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        • Hi IHM, one thing I cant do is lie and so responding to this would be spilling out lot of personal stuff. So no comments.

          Some priorities are made and some are destined (that you get to love).

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  5. “Daughters in law have to take permission if they want their friends or family to have a meal at their husband’s parents’ house.”

    This reminded me of a lady I once knew (pardon me for going off track). This lady (must be in her 20s) moved in the neighborhood of my friend’s place. Newly wed, she left a nice job back home to be with her husband. The husband, turns out to be a control freak. He never gave her any money (even for grocery). I vividly remember the incident when once during the weekly grocery shopping, she asked for a chocolate. The husband said no. She still kept it in the shopping basket. When husband saw it at the counter, he shouted at her right here and didn’t buy it. He did buy the chocolate a week later for her.

    Few friends of her, who obviously didn’t know about all this, decided to surprise her and traveled from out of the city to meet her. Her husband didn’t allow them inside. She asked my friend for help and they stayed at her place for the night.

    And yet her husband, her in-laws, her relatives, her parents blamed her for not being able to adjust!! Finally he told her to leave as she can’t obey her as a wife should. So she left. Her husband and her in-laws will only take her back if her parents will touch her MILs feet.

    My biggest problem is why no one is talking about divorce here. She is not even allowed to find a job as her in-laws wouldn’t like it! And as we raise our daughters to be timid and without backbone, she can’t (she really can’t: have met her and know that personally) stand up for herself and take control of her life. It was her bad luck that she got this kind of home and now she has to somehow make it work. Even though she was severely depressed the one year of her married life. But how does that matter?

    Am sorry for sidetracking from the main topic but that point reminded of her and thought would share..

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    • I think in a conjugal life, the husband also has to talk to his wife if he wants to invite friends to the house. I do that. All my friends do that. The wife of the house is powerful, man. And when she cries, man.. thats a scene that you dont want. You better take permission.

      Basically, what I mean is that conjugal life is about two people and surely BOTH ARE NOT INDEPENDENT.

      In the traditional sense, wives may look meek but in the closed doors of the bedroom, the crucial decisions are made and to what results, we all know – we know of so many brothers fighting billions of dollars. Dont we?

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      • Sorry to butt in but I have a problem when you say “And when she cries, man.. thats a scene that you dont want. You better take permission.” because it means that you take permission to avoid the “scene”. How about asking because you want to make sure she is not uncomfortable or not ready to host visitors? My husband asks me that all the time, and not because he is scared of the scene! Just saying!

        Me – I agree with you Shilpa.

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      • And when she cries, man.. thats a scene that you dont want.

        Honestly? How about when the husband beats her up? Is she allowed to cry then?

        And men don’t cry, ever? Really? I have seen so many of male friends cry (yes, with actual tears) that I don’t believe this. When something hurts enough, when someone close to them dies, when they find themselves helpless, they cry. The key word being ‘helpless’. Women cry more often because we raise them to be helpless. Blame them for everything that goes wrong around them and never, ever support them.

        In the traditional sense, wives may look meek but in the closed doors of the bedroom, the crucial decisions are made and to what results, we all know – we know of so many brothers fighting billions of dollars. Dont we?

        So all the women are prostitute now? They use sex to get what they want. Even if it is true, then why do so many of them are getting hit by their husbands everyday? Why don’t they have to endure anything and everything?

        Your arguments don’t match the reality of the world..

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        • Yes! I am so frustrated with my husband. He doesn’t see how helpless I feel. I cry a lot and I see this glazed look come over his face and can practically hear the thought in his head “She’s trying to manipulate me” and he shuts down, so I cry even harder. Because not once, NOT ONCE in our marriage have I cried to manipulate him. I love him and I do think we will work through our issues but I cry so much because I feel utterly helpless, especially in the face of his parents.

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      • “In the traditional sense, wives may look meek but in the closed doors of the bedroom, the crucial decisions are made and to what results, we all know – we know of so many brothers fighting billions of dollars. Dont we?”

        REALLY? The decisions aren’t taken in the “closed doors of the bedroom”. A guy who doesn’t let his wife buy a chocolate will not listen to her behind the bedroom. i shudder to think of any need for them to close the bedroom door at all, because in such a scenario the girl will never want to do anything like that- and it is called marital rape, btw. What happens behind closed doors is the guy getting another one of his “rights”

        And how is this related to the issue at hand? I noticed you completely ignored the main issue at hand. We are talking about a male control freak, and you start trying to talk about how a man should also listen to his wife otherwise she will cry, and then you say that these same girls lead to “break up” of families! You basically justify the beating and behaviour.

        You also completely ignored the fact that they want the female’s parents to touch the male parent’s feet. EVER THOUGHT ABOUT HOW THIS GUY BROKE UP THE WIVE’S FAMILY?

        Not only did he break up her family, but he also continues to disrespect them and he is so egoistic that he sees all this as normal.
        And this is quite usual. I have seen movies about this

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    • Me – This really made me sad… I think the man has some problem, he needs help. But don’t her parents care for their daughters?? What’s the point of living like this… might as well take a desperate step, walk out and find a life 😦

      Thanks for sharing Richa… this is the kind of stories we see in our day to day life and then I wonder how some people can still talk about letting this continue to save culture and tradition.

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    • Inviting friends was a big no no for me too even though we lived 500kms away from the in-laws. That God forsaken creature had to report every thing to his mom. My parents had to ask his parents to visit me. My father never visited me while I was married. Twice my brother and mom visited me and there was so much drama. This is from a Ph.d. FIL and M.Ed. MIL.

      We would not go to visit his relatives because if we did then he’ll have to accompany me to mine. So it was three years of looking in the face when this nonsense ends…. and finally it did.

      IHM …don’t her parents care for their daughters??

      Again the high premium placed on remaining married for women is the problem here. They’ll prefer her dead than back in their home. Until we start accepting it is ok for women to stay unmarried or on their own this nonsense will continue……

      Peace,

      DG

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    • Richa,

      If you are in contact with this person please support her. She is definitely depressed and has almost given up. Her self esteem is hit the rock bottom.

      Research has shown it takes 8 to 9 times before a woman is able to leave her abuser. She makes 8-9 attempts before she finally leaves. She leaves when she has tried every thing and has lost hope that things will not change no matter what.

      In this process people who are helping her get irritated because they are investing time and resources in her but every time she goes back so they start backing out. Or ask her to choose between the supporters or the abuser. Her investment with the abuser is larger than the supporters as physical intimacy is involved and the relationship is not always bad there are some good moments that give hope. Thus it becomes imperative for supporters not to ask her to take sides or give up support even if it is too discouraging.

      …He brought her chocolates a week later and initiated a honeymoon phase of cycle of violence. This gives the abused a hope may be things will change for good. But soon it goes back to silence before the storm and pressure builts up and then he blasts again.

      For cycle of violence read: http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/cycle-of-violence/

      Peace,

      Desi Girl

      Me – Thanks for this informative comment DG!!!!!!!!

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      • DG

        That lady never confided in me so I never spoke to her regarding the matter. my friend (her neighbor) was emotionally invested with her and had been through everything you described here (No we didn’t gossip. My friend needed emotional support to deal with all this as well). My friend is still in contact with her but not as much as when she was here. Wish we could do more to help. She did go to the domestic violence help center when she was here and they promised her to help her in anyway they could but then she never went back.

        The trouble with such case is no matter how supportive you are, the final decision lies in the hand of the abusee and unless she wants to take that extra step none of us supporting her can do anything. This kind of leaves us feeling extremely helpless. That is one of the worst feeling. They should have centers and helpline for the friends of the domestic violence abusees as well.

        Thanks for the detail response DG. Much appreciated…

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        • Richa,

          It is true the decision always lies with the person who is in the middle of all this. Rather it should always be her decision. No one should force them to make a choice they are not comfortable with or make the decision for them unless their life is in danger. An abused has already lost agency as the abuser is making all the decisions for her. If the supporters too start making decisions for her then it will be doubly disempowering her.

          She would have definitely gone to the help center but was too scared of making any move because the known devil (familiarity with the abuser) seems better than the unknown devil (big bad world out there). Our culture teaches us that at home it is only one man who is your husband is abusing you if you step out of the home there will be many men (strangers) ready to pounce on you. This fear of so called bad world out there prevents an abused to step out of abuse.

          It is not gossip it is supporting a friend who is trying to help someone else. And it is a right thing to do.

          What do you mean by here? Are you guys in the US? If yes, then your friend can take a DVRT (domestic violence response team) training at any local DV shelter/non-profit. It is 60 hr training free of cost streched over months. Then person can volunteer at any DV shelter. It teaches you the operation of abuse, cycle of abuse diagnosis primary response and crisis intervention etc.

          People who work with abused and abusers too have to go for regular purging. I remember when I addressed the first rape case of a minor I did not sleep for three nights. I was a total wreck. We do get help from on site counselors.

          If there are some people interested in just getting trained to identify the abused, abuser and how to help them – resources, and skills then GGTS is willing to organize an online workshop with the help of subject experts.

          Please feel free to contact me @ girlsguidetosurvival@gmail.com

          Please keep up the good work of supporting your friend in supporting this abused person.

          Peace,

          Desi Girl

          Me – Desi Girl, I would like to know more about the online workshop… for Indian women, living in India, with almost no support.

          Like

        • IHM,

          Desi gril can coordinate an online workshop for women in India who would like learn about how to help abused persons and those who are in need of support for themselves. Please write to me on my gmail id. We can discuss how many participants are there and how we’ll proceed with technical aspect etc.

          Do you have a jaadu mantar or comment magnet please guide me :). Enjoy this comment it just came in.
          http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/desi-in-laws-wedging-a-psychological-warfare-against-bahus/#comment-334

          Peace,

          DG

          Like

  6. First, I’m sorry to say that I let out a giggle when I read ur title! IHM u probably remember my mentioning it on and off, that our hometown has followed the ghar jamai system for generations! But no the men do not actually go around acting as if they can ask for a stream of tea at will! And the friction part, well, I’ve seen men get along really well with their “marital” home for years. My hubby and Dad did not get along, but that is another story, but this is not the rule, and I’ve seen well adjusted families in the system! His father has passed away, and so have my parents so it’s only now that I’m seeing the other side of the coin when his Mum came to live with us! I still prefer the Ghar jamai way!

    Me – I think it is best when all adults are respected and given personal space… not easy when everybody lives together….

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  7. I have heard that in Malayalee families, the boy goes and stays in girl’s house and the property of the parents go to the girl – that was common earlier. I don’t know how it is now. If this had continued, the ‘female baby’ hatred would not have been there.

    The ‘ek glass paani’ jhagda was funny to read, but it must have been a tragedy for the girl’s side. These things happen in many places, even now.

    In the early days of my marriage too, I was the one who ate last and just one or two spoons of subzi was remaining for me. But we were in joint family with my sister in law, just for 7 months, thank god!

    Mothers in law are usually closer with sons in law, IHM! So, the veettodu maappillai son in law will have his fifth cup of coffee also, with respect! Only the outsiders will not respect him!

    Me – 😆 Ha ha 🙂 Yes I think the 4th or 5th cup of coffee is unlikely to be a problem Sandhya 😆

    Like

    • You heard right Sandhya coz I come from such a family and it still works that way in our part of the world. And the best part of it is that in our family a girl is cherished. When you look at the other side of the coin it is sad though, coz a baby girl means the property and money stays in the family. But yeah you get all the love and equal of everything that a boy gets in the family, never ever a little less than the boys 😛 My poor brothers would differ on this though…they might complain that they always got less than what I got :mrgreen:

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  8. Recently i congratulated a couple who come from a very wealthy,affluent and educated background ,on birth of their second daughter— to my surprise i got a very rude response from them.

    In another incident people of a posh neighborhood were making fun of this man who was spreading his wife’s clothes in the sun because she was unwell.

    A pleasant sight i come across daily is my front door neighbors….not only their daughter in law is served breakfast at the table by her mom-in-law but also the whole house comes out every morning to wish her good luck for the day as she leaves for her work.

    Living with the parents/in -laws is a personal choice but it is sad when working couples invite their in-laws/parents during pregnancy/delivery time/baby sitting and are extra sweet to them but as soon as their purpose is served they want to discard them as soon as possible.And these people are well educated and financially sound people.

    Society is in transitional phase ..we see mixed things..good,bad,worse.

    Me – I agree Kavita… in many ways this is the best time for women ever. For the first time we are actually questioning and reforming what we see as unfair!

    Like

  9. of course, why not? i get unlimited cups of tea/coffee at my in-laws place 😀

    and i dont feel any shame drinking as i feel its my own home and my mum is making tea/coffee for me 😀 😀

    Me – I agree Philip I also see no problem with any number of cups of coffee at the in laws’ house for the son in law 🙂

    Like

  10. Men are bread winners–so it is expected that he earns and takes care of his family…..so when he becomes veetodu mappillai -it is taken that he has sold himself or absolved himself of his responsibility…if it happens as a matter of convenience then it is ok….the belief, even woman may not like this…

    i would put differently….infact still there are son in laws who feel staying at inlaws place even for a nite lowers his stature..i know one of my friend who just drops his wife at her parents place and goes without entering the house….

    similiarly other way around too…recently we asked a family friend why are you not calling your parents for holiday…she replied my mother wont stay in son inlaws home…

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    • //it is taken that he has sold himself or absolved himself of his responsibility//

      Sunder then the society should be fine with men who have good jobs and are making good money being veetodu mappillai?

      Like

    • Sunder, about the “men as breadwinners are thought to have absolved himself of responsibilities if he stays in his wife’s house.” Everyone “thinks” so just because they grew up in a system that right now believes that’s the way it is. In our community we don’t have any such belief. So men who live with their in-laws are still thought of as responsible men. So isn’t it all just a matter of perception?? And as educated and intelligent humans capable of adaptability it is time people left these rigid stances and meaningless beliefs behind and opted for convenience instead.

      Like

    • “.infact still there are son in laws who feel staying at inlaws place even for a nite lowers his stature” I would say it’s all what is in your mind. If visiting your own in laws place lowers the stature then I shudder thinking what that person feels about people outside his caste, religion etc??

      Like

      • God only knows what was my dad’s problem he would just take us to meet our maternal grandparents for a day and then drag us to his village that even lacked basic amenties- elctricity, tap water… My mom’s sister and her husband had no such qualms. I guess sometimes it is just personal quirks…

        Peace,

        DG

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  11. I so agree with the last sentence where you say “May you have healthy children.” Seems to me us Indians only bless the daughter in law with “May you have a healthy boy baby!” As if it’s in the power of the person giving the blessing!

    Wonder when we’ll change and accept the importance of girl babies too. Where do these folks think the mothers and the sisters and the daughter in laws come from if everyone has a boy baby.

    Sometimes I feel that God should punish all these folks who want only boy babies by giving all of them boy babies. Then pretty soon there would come a time in India when there would be only men, and no women at all. That should teach them a lesson.

    Me – I also feel those who don’t want girl babies should not have them.

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    • So you are wishing for what film “Matrubhoomi” showed. It is aready happening in Haryana. Men are buying brides from Kerela and NE even Nepal and these women are shared by brothers. What a shame.

      Peace,

      DG

      Like

  12. Men can never live at their in laws’ house as long as people around keep judging them.

    More than the xtra cup of coffee its the fear of “Log kya kahenge ” that prevents the son in law from staying at the in laws house.I know of a husband who doesnt mind washing his wives clothes when nobody is watching but when at his parents house he dare not touch his wives clothes for the fear of being labeled a JKG.

    I also know of a husband who has banned his wife (Professor by profession) from visiting her parents or even attending any function at their place. when I asked this lady doesn’t she want to go to her parents house ,she said she did not want to infuriate her husband. How can society change the way it thinks when teachers and parents keep following and propagating age old traditions??

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    • what I meant was “Men can never live at their in laws house as long as people around keep judging them”.

      Me – Done 🙂

      Like

  13. Vettoda mapilai is frowned upon by the society even if the guy is ok with it…
    Though my dad is not a veetoda mapilai, he spends a lot of time at maternal grandparents house[ when they are in town and otherwise too] and quite comfortable around the place as well…

    i guess its all a matter of mind set and attitude!!!

    Most women say they would rather live in poverty than live with mental stress. == So true am sure!!! If i were to get married, i’d make sure i live where i and my partner are happy and away from chaos!!! 🙂

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  14. Even when 4 friends stay together in a house, there’ll be differences in opinions and everything. So, one can only imagine when the people happen to be the “in-laws”!!! Basically, the problems stem from the way each family’s been living. If the girl’s been brought up a certain way, it’s essentially impossible to change! It’s not just about a matter of time, but also of principles. It’s the same for the boy, for the boy’s parents and for the girl’s parents.

    The “Veetodu Maapilai” may ‘demand’ the 4th coffee of the day, because he’s been brought up seeing his dad/relative do that at his place (the older generations used to accept all this; anything a man asks is granted, right? :P)), and might have always thought it’s the way of life…and is acceptable behaviour!

    Am in no way supporting or blaming the “veettodu mappilai” in this case. This is just something I’ve figured out. In my family, I’ve seen my mom have equal voice on any matter, as my dad. So, my brother and I have been brought up in that way.

    At my husband’s place, the ladies of the house generally only get to nod. Though nothing’s ever forced on them, they aren’t really expected to voice out their likes/approvals over the man’s decisions. So, when i came into the family, even though i and the husband live separately, it’s sometimes a rude shock for the in-laws when i stand my ground! There’s no friction ONLY because they see that the husband accepts this behaviour of mine. 😉

    So, i guess, unless today’s men and women form a single, acceptable “societal norms” and adhere to that, we’ll forever keep hearing of such incidents, discuss them and yet again keep hearing of them! 😀

    And gosh, typical case of comment-turned-post! Sorry! 😀

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  15. If women handle conflicts better and that is the reason we have this arrangement of her staying in her husband’ s house then how come she is pushed into a corner instead of being crowned??!

    Like

      • It may be that you have had bad experiences but the world is not all that bad. You guys are the real owners of the household. The bahu of the house gets to keep the keys of the house either when she is DIL or at most when she become MIL…

        You guys need to be positive and have faith in God.. (and we surely have more prominent Goddesses than Gods.)

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        • @Durlov, Well I am sorry to say, I fail to see where God enters the picture here!! 😆 And please don’t judge the commentators by ‘You guys need to be positive and have faith in God.’ I really cannot think of anyone who has a more positive attitude than Ritu above! And let me add myself as a close second.

          Me – @ Durlov – Also God helps those who help themselves, so if we see a problem, we must do our bit to find solutions.
          And Durlov what happens to atheist women? Don’t they deserve fair treatment?

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        • @shail Gods (and Goddesses) are omnipresent, you see. Kidding!

          Strangely I see that few of my statements were ignored by all you, girls. Only the easy prey is being killed.

          what about…
          //You guys are the real owners of the household. The bahu of the house gets to keep the keys of the house either when she is DIL or at most when she become MIL…//

          Its preposterous & negative to conclude in the generic sense that “We (all women) are subjugated and made into doormats”.

          I think we have enough history to prove that women in general are respected and loved. Definitely we have a better history than America and some of the European Kingdoms. Have you guys seen Missisipi Burning, North Country…

          Anyways the point is the scene is not so bad.

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        • @Durlov

          I hope this will substantiate what you are saying. yes, not all has gone to the dogs. Some under dogs are more equal.

          To understand the operation of patriarchy it is important to be vigilant of these so called privileges some women have. How are these privileged women positioned in the whole set up as compared to men and other women. And what about those who are subjugated???

          Not all is bleek there are nukes and corners where women have carved their own space but not all is well either. It is a long road ahead demanding we work every day in our own worlds to make a change…

          http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/401/

          Peace,

          DG

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        • @Durlov please read this:

          http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/desi-in-laws-wedging-a-psychological-warfare-against-bahus/

          …we surely have more prominent Goddesses than Gods…

          We don’t want to be treated as Goddesses just let us remain humans and give us our human rights and dignities. The Goddesses (idols)placed on the pedestals are thrown out if they even scratched (khandit). Those Goddesses don’t ask for anything rather are just bestowing blessings. We are humans and will ask for our share of the land and sky…

          Peace,

          DG

          Me – Agree. Yes, ” We are humans and will ask for our share of the land and sky…”

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        • Extremely well written, dear (what do I say) GGTS or DGGRS.

          Proud of you.

          But I wont generalise the content. Very relevant to a set of women for sure.

          (And ya, I will surely comment on your blog too. IHM is anyway getting too many comments… Let me not add 😉

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      • one does have a choice. why do one have to become subjugated and doormats – Why not – empowered and powerful. these cultural mind games and excuses has been overcome by many women, why not this girl?

        “conditioning” and cultural” are truly turning out to be excuses and becomes a virus.

        most times women do not want to take the responsibility of their subjugation and point fingers – still the 3 fingers point right back at you.

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        • @anrosh, We have to make allowances for psychology. Not everyone who has been brainwashed can stand up for herself. Sometimes cornered people fight back and win too, but in most cases the conditioning is too much for them to fight back. It really amazes you in many instances why they don’t stand up for themselves.

          Me – I agree… it’s heart breaking to watch someone not fight back, but one does understand what stops them from fighting back… 😐

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        • shail, i agree with you, but for discussion let me say this –

          even after 20 years of conditioning – a brain has the capacity to change –

          and everytime this “allowance of psychology” is given a pat in the back, we are going back by one century.

          This conditioning is perpetuated both by men and women – and as a transitional society – Which way are we going to adopt ? Break away from the conditioning or fight back.

          It is only a matter of choice –

          Will the woman want to go hungry everyday when she does not get food at her in-laws place. Will she not try to at least steal food, when the fridge is bursting with it?

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        • Anrosh there are some/a lot of women who have been brought up to never raise their voice and never voice their opinion. When you have been like that for 20 years, you cannot suddenly say what you really want to say. All the women who are blogging and replying to comments here are only a small percentage. We certainly do not represent the vast majority of women in India who are supressed and ruled over. So saying that women are responsible for their “choice” is really not fair. Women like IHM and me can say what we want because we are used to it, so we won’t be subjugated, but there are women who will never be able to speak out for themselves.

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        • shilpa, the behavior of not raising a voice is shared by all genders in india, not just women, otherwise India with its billion population would be ruling not subjugated by wherever they went in the world.

          I did read somewhere ( a study) that people who are more vulnerable are attacked often and repeatedly.

          Doesn’t Indian history reflect that? Indian was passed on as a baton by the mughals, french, dutch, portugese, english, and now the Nehru-Gandhi family – And still Indians are scared to raise their voice. And for the world India has become a bulk labor commodity because they are ready to work 14 hours a day. All this because Indians do not raise their voice.

          Europeans and Americans know that Indians can be patted down just by raising a few decibels in the tone. And some Indians who have raised their voice in this (US) country have become the brown bourgeoisie.

          And as for “being used to it”. There is always a first time. And you have rightly pointed out, this discussion is not about bloggers who blog or comment/ .

          For those who want to find an alternative, we will always find.
          Have you seen the movie Vanaja? This time when I was in Bombay, I met a person who earns her living mopping floors. She gets alimony from her husband (ruled by the court), who left her because she could not bear children. She fought with the help of pro-bono lawyers. She will give run for qualified women who subjugate themselves. As she says, “it is all in the mind”

          The thirst for desire to survive resides with every person – it is a human instinct. Put the most subjugated man/woman in a burning house, he/she will run for cover, unless he/she decides it is better to die than to live

          On my blog I write about “roccy” – the subjugated. even her mother who pushed “roccy” into this state , does not take any responsibility now. She says it is roccy’s fate/destiny. Does roccy have a choice to get out – yes, but she does not want to – It is a matter of choice.

          Many woman are reluctant for many reasons – for reasons/excuses of their own. Send me woman who wants to get out of subjugation. I will help them, because I know everybody can. Many are hesitatant in making the first step – “to get out of subjugation” , because it is discomforting. Because soon she will have the responsibility of making changes and being accountable. And once “you get used to ” becoming responsible and accountable and raising a voice – you will get used to 🙂

          ..I may have not answered everything, but the fact that this comment is going to get trunkated in a reply mode does not encourage me to write anymore

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  16. “We discuss the symptoms – suicides by young married women, dowry, bride burning, female foeticide and infanticide, ladke-wale-ladki-wale attitude (Do click!), domestic violence etc while avoiding looking at the real issue.”

    … yes, all that is conveniently pushed under the carpet by highlighting ‘wife and MIL jokes’…

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  17. I hate these double standards..what applies to a woman should apply to a man too..this is possible in a society which respects each individual and Indian society has a long way to go.

    Thankfully my parents and my in-laws are pretty forward thinking..in my sasural…many times it is my husband who gets up from the table to get water, clear the table or even cook. There were expectations from me when I was newly married but my hubby is very supportive and so there was never a conflict and I am treated fairly and with lot of love.

    I know that this is not so with most families in India..my mother was the last person to have food after the whole family had finished eating…It made me angry…

    I have heard about Menons from Kerala where the husband has to change his surname and not the wife. A ghar jamai may face a lot of ridicule cause our society is still patriarchal. And will the male ego ever tolerate becoming a Ghar Jamai?

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  18. Children (boys and girls) should be wanted for who they are and not for what they can do…Why are boys preferred? For their earning capacity etc. …Similarly, in matriarchal societies, girls are wanted for property…

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  19. Its very strange… Veetodu mapilai is not normally considered a ‘positive thing’. It is more a matter of embarassment for both girl and boy’s families.

    However, the girl HAS to live with the in-laws. Like you rightly said ‘the boy brings home a care giver for their parents’. And girls who DO NOT want to ‘look after’ the boy’s parents are considered haughty and wicked!!

    Indian society is very much in favour of the boy child. There can be no denying that. In my family, people have been asking telling us ‘Its time for you to have a DAUGHTER now’. But the ONLY reason for that is, we already have a son. If it hadn’t been the case, then it would have been a very different situation!!

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  20. “nd women are thought to handle conflicts better” …. this is not true .. the DIL has often no choice but to handle conflicts …. and mostly at a disadvantage to her.

    I do not see many people stress free after marriage .. often, it is this stress that makes many girls today shy away from marriage, or opt for a much later marriage.

    I do not think girl children are ever going to be welcome in our country … the more progress we make, the more intolerant we are becoming.

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  21. and it is so sad that in a country where The Divine Supreme power is revered as female, there is such a chauvinistic attitude.

    And to be frank, it really doesnt help when a lot of women refuse to do certain things saying “These things will be handled by my father/brother/husband”. Of course, there are certain physical limitations to most women, but that should not be an excuse to not try from other (so-called) “men’s work” .. IF we ourselves draw such a demarcation, how are men going to react ?

    Like

    • Some times you have to strategically employ “only men will do X job.” As a first born and girl growing up I had to take up almost all the chores. One time we had a kitchen garden and had lots of carrots. My brother would make carrot juice with that bulky electric juicer. He and my mom tried to coax me into making the juice I refused by saying it is too complicated for me to learn coz’ I knew if I did it once he’ll quit. I was willing to go without juice than letting him go. 🙂

      My mom worked and drove scooter. After work she fetched vegetables, then picked up the prescription and on and on. Before she started driving it was my father’s job. Sometimes you have to startegically exploit these stereotypes…

      Peace,

      DG

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  22. “Can a Veetodu Maapilai rightfully ask for the 4th coffee of the day or whatever he wants in his in-laws’ house?”

    I ask “why not?” why is it that relationships have to be so complicated in India …?

    Like

    • I completely agree with you Dew. Why do we make a mountain out of a molehill?

      Whats the big deal about the 5th cup?

      There are a few of us who are hell bent on seeing the rarity as the norm and I feel they are the ones who does more harm to womankind by being in the darker side of things, by being negative.

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  23. I so agree with this post. A man who stays with his wife’s family is looked down upon, but it is taken for granted that a woman will stay with her husband’s family. Worse, when the son-in-law visits he is treated like a king, but a daughter-in-law visits, her status is sometimes lower than the maids of her marital family. No one feels the need to extend any courtesy to her while they feel comfortable expecting miracles from her.

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  24. IHM,

    I love your blog, you know that. Can you please answer my one Q or direct me to a link if you have already written about it?

    We always talk about MIL’s torturing DIL’s, do we address the opposite?

    Thanks
    ART

    Me – I feel DILs should not live in MIL’s homes – so the MILs are free to live and enjoy their retired life. I wrote about MILs being financial secure and not being made dependent on their children here,

    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/if-i-made-baghban/
    And here,
    https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/12/21/why-doesnt-this-son-respect-his-mother/

    But I also feel the DIL is often alone in a new family while the MIL has her family with her – that is why bride burning and other abuse happens Anu. I feel MILs should start planning for their retirement and live in their own homes, never signing them away to their sons or dils. I also feel they should not think it’s their responsibility to take care of their grand children. If they do this, it’s always a favour to their children – even if the grand mothers enjoy it.

    Like

    • Hi Art,

      I am giving unwanted advice. But it is you who would decide what you want. For me, personally, what IHM is saying does not make sense. I would strongly debate that. Her theories would create disjointed support-less family structures. In fact this will unltimately lead to no society.

      Since human being is a social animal, we cant propagate theories which can eliminate the sense of society. It is the team spirit that keeps us alive. Surviving a team with all odds is what a joint family teaches and imbibes.

      Today in metros, due to inflationary economy we are compelled to stay in 1 BHKs and 2 BHKs, which is again creating a functional divide within families. We should start migrating to non-metros and create equillibrium.

      So DIL and MIL staying separately is an escapist’s imagination of an euphoric reality.

      Please read http://bit.ly/djw8pj where I tried to lay a few foundations about a joint family.

      Like

  25. @anrosh,
    “and every time this “allowance of psychology” is given a pat in the back, …”

    No, what I said was definitely not an ‘allowance’ nor ‘a pat’ on the back, but fact, a reality. I do agree that a handful may, even after twenty years of conditioning, come out of it successfully (I see myself as an example). But not all have the inner strength (or whatever it takes) or even the capability to think they can…. because they have been conditioned not to ‘think’ but simply ‘obey’ orders. Here we are talking of young minds who have been conditioned from the time they were born. Of course even I grew up in just such an environment, but I broke free.
    Psychological conditioning is not an excuse, but a fact. And we cannot simply wish it away or say ‘women do have a choice’ and it is in their hands to better their lives. I agree with what Shilpa says. What occurs to us who discuss things here simply won’t occur to a vast majority.

    Like

  26. IHM, I just finished reading Manjula Padmanabhan’s Escape. Have you read it? It’s a sci-fi thriller about our country having successfully exterminated all females, except one, and the story of her escape.

    It freaked me out because it’s so believable.

    Like

    • No Starry I have not read it, but I would definitely like to read it. I fear what would happen before all the women have been exterminated, when only one woman per hundred men is left alive … As a kid I thought it would be good if there are lesser women than men, they will be valued more, but we know that doesn’t happen, women get shared by men, instead of women having 4 or 5 husbands. 😐

      Have you read Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

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      • Yes, that book was even scarier. Because you see that sexual slavery and ‘reproductive exploitation’ all over the globe, so it looks very possible to end up in a society like that. The worst part in that book was the ‘Shredder’ babies…aren’t we doing that even now with our female and not-good-enough babies?

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  27. It is a scary thought and the books have to be picked..(the ones mentioned above) I am from the Nair society in Kerala and I can proudly say my mother still says that her two girls are much better than any number of sons in other families…(but having said that I have seen her cuddle my sister’s son a bit more than the rest of the grand kids…)
    But all said and done, girls are cherished in our families…becuase we carry forward the lineage…Lineage is traced through the mother, and the children “belonged” to the mother’s family.
    A wonderful concept, right..but it is slowly being lost in cosmoplitian thoughts…but respect for women is prevalent.
    But then then this doesnt always hold true, as in all cases, there are exceptions…

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  28. All this stigma of a man staying with his in-laws is so connected to the societal norm. Every holiday that we spent in Kerala, my dad used to join us later, and he used to live at my mom’s place. His dad used to live with his brother and they were 5 minutes away, and it used to work better for my parents because mom and we were already there and it saved packing and unpacking for a few days.. And nobody thought much about it, except me. I used to wonder because I, having grown up in Bihar, was exposed to a different culture from our traditional Nair culture. I used to wonder why my dad was fine being a GJ 😉 It was only later that I understood 🙂 But the culture you see around you acclimatizes one so much. And at home, we had no such ideas being floated around. Both my parents are equally strong personalities and both have their individuality, and yet, I remember being so influenced by the movies and the society around me.

    I would so agree that mental peace is far more important than any amount of riches.. What is the point of all the riches in the world, when you don’t have the peace of mind to enjoy it? And in joint families, life is far more tough, far more expectations that need to be met, and most of these expectations are from the daughter-in-law not the son. Given the fact that the daughter-in-law will eventually end up doing most of the ‘taking care’ part, why can’t she have the option of deciding which set of parents she wants to take care? Why is the assumption that she as a woman, has no right to decide, and her parents are no longer of any importance to her?

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  29. IHM, I was also reminded of another friend. Every time she visits India, she spends half her time at her husband’s place and the other half at her place(they are from 2 ends of India). Her husband on the other hand spends just a couple of days at her place, because he has not been able to ‘bond with her folks’. It made me wonder, could she have said that and done the same? She had no option but to ‘bond’ with his folks, but for him not to ‘bond’ was something he almost flaunted with pride.. The underlying sentiment was that he was too manly to spend time at his wife’s place!

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  30. So we know why,

    1. Daughters in law must not eat until other family members in their husband’s home have eaten. …..2, 3, 4…etc

    hmm.. I think
    Long time back YES…but do you think its happening now??!! Even though it is so, it will be very less

    Me – No Srinivas, it’s still very common – though mostly in Joint Families, I have seen friends- educated and otherwise independent, nibbling from children’s plate (because it’s meal time) but waiting to eat a full meal only when the husband is there. Read the comments in ‘It’s not about hot, hot chappaties’…

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    • @Srinivas: It’s most certainly happening now, in the joint family I left, where 2 d-i-ls still have second-class status, and in many relatives’ homes who live in the traditional joint family (esp those having a family business).

      What’s more there are enough nuclear families we’ve had meals with, where the woman will not sit down to eat with the guests or her husband…I’m talking about young twenties-something wives of IT professionals.

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    • @Srinivas, so you think this is not happening now?? It IS and even in the most forward and educated families! And less?? How less would you consider as less?? I would say 90% of the households still function on this principle and especially so if it is a joint family in and around where I stay. I know of plenty of households where even a pregnant woman is not allowed to eat and has to remain hungry till the ‘Lords’ (read men) of the household have eaten. Then imagine what happens to other women.

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  31. Hi, IHM!

    Am just reading some of your posts – though I have come across you on several blogrolls of friends for a long time. Had to put something straight on the adoption stat that Durlov mentioned in the first comment. The reason girls are adopted more is also because there are more girl children available for adoption. Baby boys are very rarely available for adoption. I speculate that they are only available for adoption because there are other anti-women biases in place – for example, a teenage pregnancy in a family could mostly be about maintaining the ‘family honour’ (with only the women being responsible for maintaining it, of course!!) and therefore placing the child (without relation to gender) for adoption.

    Adoption is personal to me and I want to make my voice heard on this, especially when terrible stats are taken and represented as a positive thing for our society. I use my blog (www.lifeandtimesinbangalore.wordpress.com) normally for my soapbox, could not only lurk this time on Durlov’s comment.

    Great writing. I shall be more regular from now on! 😀

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  40. Quite an old post. But it caught my attention just now. In my opinion, the “veetoda maapillai” concept is usually conceived as son-in-law who works for his father-in-law or does not work at all and lives with the support of his wife/in-laws. If that was the case, I am sure there will be pressure on the man here –
    1. FIrst of all, he will be considered as an “embarrassment” from his family and the soceity (which I agree is totally unfair as women are expected to stay with in-laws and why can’t a man do the same as long the couple are happy). This will definitely put a lot of pressure on him on day-to-day basis when he feels like he has to give an excuse to everyone.
    2. Secondly, let’s face it- the mother of the wife will spill it out at some point of time – about the girl who got a wealthy husband and who also takes care of his in-laws- “what a blessed girl”. You know, this situation is bound to happen sooner or later.
    3. The father-in-law may be supportive but just like a girl is expected to stay in the kitchen if at home, the guy will be expected to do household shopping, driving people who can’t drive, gardening or just do something instead of wasting time drinking 4th cup of tea and watching cricket. He has to prove himself useful or atleast prove that he is not completely useless to order the 4th cup of tea.

    But if he is working and he provides for his wife and her parents, the coin gets flipped. He is boasted around and given the complete control. He can order even the 5th cup of tea and there is no one to question him. Things can get very imbalanced in this situation.

    In any case, we should agree that we have come to an era where joint families (stay-at-home-wife or husband with the corresponding in-laws) won’t work unless there are exceptions – like someone needs to be cared for health issues or something – in which case adjust priorities. We want freedom and privacy as a couple and the joint family system with the older generation will not work unless they are ready to have an open mind which is hopeless.

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