‘This ‘I, Me, Myself’ culture that most of you on this forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.’

Sharing a comment from: When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

This comments gives an idea of what family elders and neighbours [etc] say to women who do not want to wear symbols of suhaag.  My response in block-quotes.

So am an Indian male, venturing into a women’s forum – Let me ask you a counter question – why have any customs at all. Why have marriage, or namakaranam or gruhapravesham or anything at all. Why celebrate birthdays?

IHM: Whether the reason is superstition or celebration, or ‘respect for family elders’ – one should be able to do what one truly believes in and say no to what doesn’t make sense to them – without it being seen as ‘disrespect’ towards those who wish to see it done (maybe as a sign of obedience to their wishes)

And, it’s good to know what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Why cant two people just walk in and live together when they want and walk out when they want. Why even name it marriage and divorce ? Its just about the two people right ?

IHM: A lot of people today feel safe enough to live together (or walk out) with or without getting married, because now we have become civilised enough to have made it illegal for people to be raped or murdered if they are not doing what we would like to see them do.

Why have a birth and death ceremony. Why not just dump the dead body somewhere convinient and forget about it ? This I me myself culture that most of you on the forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy. On one hand you want to live in a pleasant and vibrant society and on the other hand you don’t want to give back to it.

IHM: The ‘I, me, myself culture’ does not justify asking other people to give up their aspirations and happiness to earn our ‘respect’.  It sees the happiness and rights of every individual as equally important.

It acknowledges that we have to take responsibility for our own actions, inaction, happiness and crimes etc. It also understands that it’s unrealistic to expect the world to change to make us happy.

I think it is an honest culture  – an improvement upon the culture where those in power brainwashed or forced the weakest to sacrifice (to save the culture that thrives on their sacrifice).

Marriage is itself NOT just about two people. It is about their parents, about their future children, about their community.

IHM: Those who claim that marriage is not about just the man and the woman are not really there to solve any real problems, but patriarchal wisdom (an oxymoron?) gives them the authority to remind an abuse victim that ‘a bride goes to her husband’s home in doli must come out on an arthi’.

Link 1. An email from a daughter whose mother endured everything because she did not want to ruin her daughters’ lives. 

Link 2. An email from a Divorcee’s Daughter.

Just like as citizens are expected to uphold certain norms and work for the betterment of the wider society, a marriage is an arrangement wherein you say that you will uphold certain order and tradition for the general wellbeing of society.

IHM:Who is included in the ‘wider societies’? Widows who are considered inauspicious, and are not allowed to remarry or wear coloured clothes? Girl children? Women who are kept in dependence so that they can’t refuse, and then married off to serve the parents of their providers and protectors? Parents of Indian daughters in law?

The traditional symbols of marriage are part of that. Obviously it will not protect you against rape. But traditionally flirting / courtship (within limits) are both a fun and healthy way to get to know people and get married. Having those symbols means sending a clear signal you are not available. It is a sign of commitment and it deserves every bit of respect.

If signalling unavailability is the reason then,

1. Why don’t men display these symbols?

2. Why are widows made to give up these symbols? (even if they are not interested in remarrying or flirting)

I think it is dishonest to justify something that is not just.

There has always been an element of exaggeration and fear put in the rituals and traditions of Hindu/Indian culture. They helped in sustaining the culture. But now that you want to question everything (except the things you do), yes, it may not guarantee long life for the husband, but it will give him some peace of mind which might extend his life🙂

IHM: Only lack of logical, honest reasoning would fear questioning. Silencing of voices and using fear to ‘sustain the culture’ are  convenient alternatives for those who benefit from the said ‘culture’.

Nobody should be asked to sustain a culture by giving up their happiness, freedom and choices.

Also, what about the men’s partners’ peace of mind and long lives?

Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society.

IHM: Moral fabric is not declining. We are finally understanding that a moral code that does not respect basic human rights is called ‘moral policing’. In the past a ‘morally upright’ person could guiltlessly burn a widow or kill a girl child. Today we are able to see that there is nothing ‘moral’ about lack of respect for human lives and happiness. So women refusing to declare their  matrimonial status by displaying a red dot on their foreheads is an indication that they feel safe in refusing to do something that makes no sense to them. That’s the beginning of a culture that does not think using force to enforce tradition is ‘moral’.

The lesser such bindings, the lower the threshold to opt out, the more misadjusted the children … its just a question of time … less community life, more I me myself, more psychological problems … more violence … it goes on ….

IHM: Children raised by adults who take charge of their own lives and happiness are less likely to see violence and hopelessness as a normal part of life

In general I found that children who grow up with their grandparents are better adjusted in life than children who grew up with parents to children who grew up with single parents.

IHM: Happy and well adjusted adults raise happy and well adjusted children.  Single mothers, maternal grandparents or two male parents – all can and do raise happy, well adjusted kids.

Everything comes at a cost, unfortunately

IHM: And the cost is paid by those who can be bullied into paying it – the lowest in the patriarchal social hierarchy?

Link: An email: “The relatives seemed to be offering ‘condolences’ for me to my mother, having the misfortune of having an ‘unmarried’ daughter…”

What about men you say ? The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India. Take time to look at her … she puts up with a lot of trouble, but she is pleasant, smiling and cheerful. 

IHM: A backbone that is such a burden that a majority fasts, prays, aborts, curses, kills, visits pilgrimages for male children?

And a backbone who is kept in dependence so that freedom does not go to her head? And so she does not start seeing herself as a real person, and is grateful to be be a rib or a backbone in a system that doesn’t want her to have any rights lest she refuses to support it?

Thats because she follows a lot of the customs and rituals. Take that away and we will be heading either towards a middle-east kind of society (women don’t have this choice) or a breakdown like the west (without the supporting systems in place, it will be a total mess). The customs and rituals are not without value ..

IHM: Following patriarchal customs is empowering for women?

Without customs and rituals we would be ‘a Middle east kind of society’? Meaning our customs encourage women to travel and drive independently, and discourage forced, underage marriages?

Breakdown like the west? So what is not ‘break down’? Being forced to Get married and Stay married and bear male children? Being constantly stared at, judged, sexually harassed and then blamed for ‘provoking’ the helpless Indian ‘eve teaser’? Or being killed for saying No [link] and also for saying Yes?

Link: Teenage pregnancy: If she was born somewhere else.

Agree that the Indian male has been excessively pampered and somewhere that has got into his head. But the solution to that is not to make the Indian woman like him, but rather him more like her.

IHM: Symbols of suhaag for men? Men relocating to wife’s parents’ home and being asked to eat after everybody else has eaten? Men giving up their personal beliefs, inheritance, earnings, ancestral names, home towns, education, friends, food choices and happiness? Men being forced to wear silk dhoti and shawls while cooking to prove they are being respectful to their spouse’s extended family and culture?

But, how does anybody, men or women, being made to give up their happiness, freedom, rights and identity  make anybody happy?  Who are these people who are made happy by controlling other people’s lives? Can happiness be found and lost through controlling personal choices of other people? What kind of happiness is that?

They need to start getting into more responsible to family and society, uphold traditional customs and rituals wherever appropriate, provide the neccessary binding force for the family and yes, listen and understand his wife and balance conflicting demands.

IHM: Being responsible means upholding patriarchal customs?

And what if their culture is ‘Live and Let Live’ or human rights, freedom and opportunities to find happiness for all?

All this is symbolism, you say. All of life is symbolism, take that away (why have flag hoisting, for eg:) and what is left of life ?

IHM: Flag hoisting does not make nations – paying taxes, saving water, following traffic rules, not taking our freedom for granted (etc) does.

Also, the symbols we choose to respect matter. Symbols that deny colours to widows can’t claim to respect women.

When you are purely symbolic, but dont follow it in spirit, you are a hypocrite but the symbolism is a constant reminder and put in the colour to life to make it more meaningful.

IHM: Some symbols wipe out colours from people’s lives.

Link: “It was very cruel whatever they did with my didi. Even the ladies were abusing her.”

Take away the symbolism and it gets even worse. Yes, not having a sindoor and mangalsutra is a personal choice and one needs to respect that, but one needs to respect a women wearing it a lot more (at least I do)

IHM: Why do you think those who wear a mangalsutra deserve more respect? Does that mean no respect for widows or single women?

And what if they had no choice in wearing the mangalsutra, do they still get ‘a lot more’ respect?

But more importantly – How do they benefit from this respect? What if they would rather have their rights and then other people’s ‘respect’?

96 thoughts on “‘This ‘I, Me, Myself’ culture that most of you on this forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.’

  1. I just HAD to stop at this because Icould not stop laughing:
    “In general I found that children who grow up with their grandparents are better adjusted in life than children who grew up with parents to children who grew up with single parent.”
    Really?! There is even an old reference (remember,NOT modern at all) that says disparagingly, “like children brought up by grandparents” meaning they grow up to be spoilt no-good brats.
    Let me go back and read the rest.

    Like

    • Symbols come into existence to represent something of importance at a certain point of time. When those times have changed why must we still stick on to the now meaningless symbols?

      Like

    • I managed to make it through the whole thing (by skipping IHM’s comments which I’m sure are great) but stepped out of the room to giggle so that I don’t wake up my baby. Where does one even start analyzing this lecture?

      Like

  2. I didn’t know whether I should laugh at the logic presented by this person or cry that there are such “cant see further from what I believe” people. Hypocrisy, IMHO, is refusing to see that symbols of a culture has nothing to do with respecting another. Hypocrisy, to me, is washing my hands off of any responsibility by letting grandparents handle my children. How convenient to have unpaid babysitters? Oh Never Mind, I refuse to add energy to this opinion where words like respect, symbolism, relevance needs to have a dictionary and thesaurus to explain the meaning and implications.

    Like

  3. “Agree that the Indian male has been excessively pampered and somewhere that has got into his head. But the solution to that is not to make the Indian woman like him, but rather him more like her. ”

    Just what is the definition of an Indian woman?

    SORRY to burst your bubble dear OP but the women you refer to in your post are mythical creatures manufactured in the ad world, and movie and TV serial studios.

    Also I’d rather be excessively pampered than turn into a doormat whose every little thought and action are constantly monitored by the guardians of society. No brainer.

    Like

  4. A much needed post. Loved it. I think this is the interchange I liked best although it was hard to choose.

    ” Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society.

    IHM: Moral fabric is not declining. We are finally understanding that a moral code that does not respect basic human rights is called ‘moral policing’. In the past a ‘morally upright’ person could guiltlessly burn a widow or kill a girl child. Today we are able to see that there is nothing ‘moral’ about lack of respect for human lives and happiness. So women refusing to declare their matrimonial status by displaying a red dot on their foreheads is an indication that they feel safe in refusing to do something that makes no sense to them. That’s the beginning of a culture that does not think using force to enforce tradition is ‘moral’.”

    Like

  5. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this hidebound, reactionary person! Let me just take one aspect, the symbol one. I’m in my late fifties now, and just a few years ago I decided to stop wearing a bindi because a) I do not wish to identify myself as belonging to a particular religious community b) My marital status is my own business. People who know me know who I am, and those who don’t, don’t matter !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Marriage is itself NOT just about two people. It is about their parents, about their future children, about their community.”

    If that’s what you personally believe, then great. Live your life that way–find a spouse who agrees with you. What gives you the right to tell other people what to do? (btw, the answer is nothing)

    And regarding children being ‘better adjusted’ with parents and grandparents—studies after studies actually show that children who grow up in ‘stable’ households with single parents are far better adjusted than children who grow up with both parents in unhappy/unstable households.

    Community is more than immediate or extended family–it’s your neighborhood, fellow classmates, people your parents friends, etc. Why are you so hell bent on family members such as grandparents to provide social interaction for kids? What about parents’ friends? Fellow kids from their school?

    Like

      • The problem is, no matter who does the research, there is always a prejudice, albeit subtle, but its there. We need to find a species completely unrelated to us and is observing us for the first time, if you want an Unbiased collection of facts.

        Like

      • Good idea. There is a big difference between miscellaneous stories that reach the headlines, and statistics showing thousands or millions of stories. I think it is much needed.

        Like

    • The same news item in Malayalam daily Deepika reads totally different. For those who can read Malayalam here it is http://malayalam.deepikaglobal.com/News_latest.aspx?catcode=latest&newscode=124800&rnd=hDgHrGR
      I was happy while reading it because I thought finally someone is talking about real issues without political correctness /mask culture and no victim blaming. Malayalam reports translates something like “ heading- Majority of crimes (51%) against women happens at home including sexual assaults; after home, crimes happens in bus stands, Trains, school/campus etc; crimes high in low income families. The study also states that lately police force is more aware and educated in dealing with crime against women”.
      No where in Deepika Study blames women for crimes against them, as TOI heading itself reads.
      Sigh!! Lost in translation? or whatever sells?

      Like

  7. Bang on!!! Why is always the Indian woman who has to bear the weight of tradition on her shoulders?
    The festivals and symbols he is talking about, ought to be individual choice. Not something forced or judgemental.
    Everytime I hear someone waxing lyrical about how festivals and home life used to be better, invariably it is because the women bore the burden. And was it out of choice? I doubt.
    As IHM put succinctly, culture is constantly evolving. And we can’t selectively choose a particular symbol or way of life as universal truth.

    Like

  8. Breakdown like in the west? Wth was that? Breakdown like lesser street sexual harassment, properly functioning institutions, fair (sort of) legal systems, faster justice, more freedom, proper public transport, more safety, proper supply of electricity and water, access to sanitation, access to healthcare, lesser corruption…

    Is that the breakdown you are referring to?

    Like

    • Men not getting the default superior status and women being able to date and divorce without being ostracised (the nerve!). The breakdown of unquestioned male domination and control on female sexuality. The horror!

      Like

      • @ Carvaka…oh yes!!! the Horror! Imagine if Women actually get to choose the men they want to mate with or marry…oh Gee!!! will men ever find anyone they could rule over (I mean men who think the way this Man thinks)

        Like

    • No, breakdown as in the west, as in men mentally objectifying women and socially pretending to have respect for them, but given a chance in a lonely/isolated system/place with an even average attractive/beautiful women, he’ll always try to have his way and make sure that not a word about his actions gets out to the world where he has built a reputation of a progressive man.

      Isn’t that hypocrisy? FYI, I’m a male, and 90% of the male I know in my life are this kind of a hypocrite (where 90% = approx. 1000 men)

      From this I get to conclude, that where at least a 1000 men from different facets of life ranging from ultra rich to ultra poor, from NRIs to indian citizens, from married to unmarried, from living in metros to villages, have this kind hypocrisy buried deep inside their heart and soul, no matter how loud the women shout in this country, nothing is really gonna change untill the mentality changes.

      The need for the kind of culture where women are suppressed, exists because we men, love the women in our lives, and we also realise that we single handedly are not capable enough to save them from every other problem she might face when shez out in a world of such hypocrites. Hence, we find a easier solution to the problem by putting more restrictions on the women so as to keep them safe. Its the insecurity inside which drives us towards restrictions in search of security.

      Wanna write more to explain, but for the time being this is it. Will write more later on.

      Like

      • Well deep004, that kind of attitude exists mainly in conservative cultures. This attitude exists precisely because men consider women as maids and inferior. Yes, I have been walking alone at 2 AM, been waiting for people at bus stops in the evening and the only place I felt threatened was not in the big bad west but in India okay?

        This attitude exists precisely because men and women are not allowed to interact in healthy fashion and men are taught not to see women as people.

        And you know what? I am bored of conservative people who go on and on about how bad the western culture is and how it spoiled the great Indian culture and how people romanticize the past. Someone tells you to do something, you will blindly follow them without logic is it? West influences people and they are like falling under the influence like a pack of cards? Why are they not falling under the influence of Indian culture?

        You dislike the west so much? Then avoid everything the west gave you. And that means you will wear dhoti kurta/veshti/lungi. That means you will not use internet/phones/tv. That means you will not get your children vaccinated. Why follow bad western medicine. It spoils your health. Go to an ayurvedic doc when somebody meets with an accident. Get your women to give birth with dai’s? (old women). Do not take buses/trains. Go on a bailgaadi. Don’t follow the gregorian calendar. After all India has so many calendars.

        Like

      • @deep004

        You cannot control the thoughts of anyone. What you can ask for though is that their actions do not harm anyone. Those males you talk about who only pretend like they respect women – you know what – it is none of my business as long as they are not encroaching on my rights. And that chance in isolation you talk about – again, as long as it is not rape, none of our business.

        What does bother me is people offering me “security” against such men against my will. Take a look at your language – it reveals so much. “We find a easier solution is by putting more restrictions”….
        – What makes you the solution finder? Have women approached you for solutions to their issues?
        – What gives you the right to put restrictions on anyone and expect them to follow it? Even if you think it is for their own “good” ?

        We all feel the need to protect the ones we love. But when the other person is an adult, we cannot do the decision making on their behalf no matter how tempting it sounds.

        Like

        • Well said.
          1. It’s all about how a women’s honor can be sullied by a mere thought in the gair mard’s mind (in the mind of a man who is not her lord and master, protector and provider, pati parmeshwar or future pati parmeshwar).
          2. The same logic makes people complain about women wearing clothes that some people might find offensive, attractive, too western, too revealing (in a country that traditionally wore no upper garment), too ‘modern’ etc.
          3. Also shows why it’s a good idea to choose one’s friends carefully and stay away from misogynists.
          4. It would free such men if they stop seeing themselves as protectors of women’s ‘name’ and honor, character and thoughts… etc.

          Like

      • “No, breakdown as in the west, as in men mentally objectifying women and socially pretending to have respect for them”
        You mean, as opposed to India, where men mentally objectify women and don’t even need to pretend to have respect, because disrespecting women is not really seen as a big deal unless she is a mother/sister type figure?

        FYI I don’t agree with your 90% remark. Maybe you need to find some better company.
        And as for ‘love’ being the excuse for suppressive behaviour towards women, that’s just total BS. Try ‘honour’ and ‘power’ instead.

        Like

  9. Mr Commenter, please re-read your own comment and you will notice how women only exist in your world in relation to men. All of their actions seem to exist to support men and their parents and ‘society’. You seem unable to see them as individuals like men. That is frankly nonsense.

    ‘Marriage is about parents and elders too’ – except the women’s parents, eh?

    ‘Wear symbols of marriage to send clear signals about unavailability’ – except men don’t! Are they available after marriage too?

    ‘Maybe it won’t extend your husband’s life but the peace of mind might’ – again, what about the woman’s life? No peace of mind for her? Or does the commenter wear sindoor and managalsutra for his wife?

    ‘Breakdown like the west’ – has he ever been to the west? As a woman, it is traumatising to visit India.. I end up molested, disrespected, feel unsafe. If the opposite of this is a ‘breakdown’ then that’s brilliant. I am MUCH safer and much more respected in the west.

    ‘Hindu women are the backbone of this culture’ – if you are so fussed about this culture, then please go be the backbone yourself. Stop this glorification of women like bali-ka-bakra. Don’t impose your burden on women and then pretend that they like it because they ‘smile’.

    ‘Indian women put up with a lot – but they are still smiling – because they follow rituals’ – erm.. how have you concluded that Indian women are happy BECAUSE of rituals? How do you make that leap? Based on what evidence? Rituals like dowry and sati included?

    Mr commenter, I think you have never met a real women or bothered to actually get to know them. You only seem to have seen the white saree wearing ones in movies.. ever ready to do some karva chauth. Please go meet some real women. They are humans, just like men, and their dreams don’t start and end with parents, husband and hindu rituals.

    Hypocrisy is being a man and commenting on which choices of women are to be ‘more respected’.. denying them options which you yourself live by. The day YOU wear some sindoor, you get to advocate it. Until then, it’s none of your business and you get NO say in it.

    Like

    • In the same logic muslim women with burqa are the back bone of mild east culture. and in west , western culture is being lost because of large number of promiscuous men and women. west is on the decline because of this(broken homes). you do not require a microscope to see a thing kept on your palm. both men and women are backbone of indian culture where men have certain duties and responsibilities and so do women. in this culture, you have ‘daya ‘ for elders and karuna for children. only in Indian scriptures it is said ‘matru devo bhava’;then comes father. the nature has made women weaker sex ;not men made them so, and there is apurpose behind that; ;accept that;, men should protect the weaker sex and not harass them.

      Like

      • ‘Daya’ and ‘karuna’ may be terms specific to India but I think you’ll find that the concepts themselves are common to the human race, irrespective of culture and ethnicity. In a truly advanced society, treating someone well wouldn’t depend on their age or their status/role such as being ‘older’ or a mother, MIL, DIL and so forth, it would be done irrespective of such things.

        Again, the concept of ‘matru devo bhava’ is not specific to India. For example, many Christians worship the mother of Jesus and revere her just as much, so it’s a concept fairly common elsewhere too. I have my reservations about motherhood being installed on a pedestal in this fashion. There is no denying that pregnancy and the early days of caring for a new-born are very very difficult and for that reason, mothers ought to be given the credit for what they go through.

        However, post this, raising a child is subject to parenting. Not mothering, or fathering, parenting.

        Celebrating only motherhood as is done now creates a restrictive model of society. Fathers don’t get enough credit, families are largely seen to be incomplete if they don’t consist of a father AND mother. It leaves no room for families with two mothers, or two fathers, or single parents. It also puts enormous pressure on women to be baby-carriers first. Women who do not want children are looked at suspiciously. Women are discriminated against when companies refuse to hire them on the assumption that they will shortly quit their positions to have children. Or are seen as contributing less because they have children making demands on their time and not advanced as much as male peers despite equal contribution. Making one half of the population bear the burden of any one thing (and here I count both the care-giving burden placed on women as well as bread-winning burden placed on men) can only give rise to an unhappy restrictive society where individual choices are not respected, where there isn’t the freedom to choose as such. We certainly need laws, regulations and duties, but ones prescribed to CITIZENS, not men and women, depending on their perceived roles and abilities.

        It’s funny that you call women the weaker sex but also quote ‘matru devo bhava’. Do the physical rigours of labour and child-birth get no respect from you? Are they not demanding enough in your view to make the women going through them be considered ‘strong’?

        Men may not have made women weaker but the Patriarchy has repeatedly subjugated women and reduced to this point of having to be dependent on men-folk, for whatever reason. Women don’t need men to protect them. What we need is a society that recognises equality and doesn’t promote harassment in any form by anyone.

        Like

      • in every culture – infact the whole universe follows the same ‘daya’ and ‘karuna’… it’s not special to indian culture.
        oh yeah we’re big time ‘ mathru devo bhava’ fans , once you say the magic words mathru will feel so happy as she slaves for you isn’t it??

        ha ha ha i love india , i love it’s varied heritage, i love it’s color, it’s joy etc., etc., but having see the world the biggest thing we lack is ‘EQUALITY’ treating everyone the same is a concept that is foreign to us and our culture. so it says in our shastra’s..

        to a child a father is as important as a mother, no one comes ahead of the other.. ‘mathru devo bhava’ is pure BS.
        plus if i were a god I’d be mightily pissed off, here i put you on this earth to do good and you claim to be above me!!!! what kind of nonsense is that he he he

        Like

      • SBA,

        You don’t have to go as far as scriptures (and if you do then please read what manu wrote too).. I have grown up in India and live in the west. The moral fabric of society is much healthier here. People have choice in how they live their life. People don’t kill their baby girls for being a girl, they don’t burn women for dowry, they don’t kill their own children for ‘honour’. What’s the point of saying ‘matry devo bhava’ if you kill your little baby daughters at the same time? What’s the point of having ‘daya’ if it doesn’t extend to women’s parents and widows?

        Every culture has it flaws and I never myself claim that west is best, but just clarifying since you brought it up. For me, divorce/ promiscuity is no match for female infanticide. What’s wrong with people being able to decide who they want to sleep with? What is the virtue in having sex only with a stranger your parents choose? I find the latter quite creepy. You don’t need to go around telling women what they should think.. the whole point is that they should think whatever they want to think.

        You should really introspect and ask yourself why you are happy to be in denial of the oppressions of half the society under the garb of ‘culture’.

        Like

      • Just want to know from you how the West is breaking down? the ‘West’ is the big, bad wolf West here right? As in everything outside of India?

        Like

      • If the West is in decline then why are large numbers of highly educated Indians choosing to study and work there? Why are cutting edge scientific breakthroughs still coming of the West and not India? Where are the world’s best universities; its best writers, scientists and thinkers based? We do not even have ONE Nobel prize winner working in India. That tells you which civilisation is really in decline. As for women being biologically weaker, I’ll let the others refute that argument

        Like

    • “‘Breakdown like the west’”
      It is a favorite phrase of all culture upholders. It actually means they who say this are scared, “OMG, who will I grope, abuse on the streets/home?! Who will make me hot tea/chapathis? Who will clean up after me? Who will I lord it over? yada, yada, yada…”

      Like

    • Loved your response, carvaka…
      Women are always put on an imaginary pedestal and made to believe that they are someone who everyone worships and the sole responsibility of everything good and bad happening around is theirs! I mean, I dont even want to be a backbone of any country! I dont want that pressure and I am happy being my own backbone. If that means lesser respect from people like the comment writer, I am 100% fine with it. Because I know such respect which is got in exchange of something is useless.

      Like

  10. There are clearly two opposing points of view a work here. While is easy to laugh at the writer and ridicule his opinion, I think it’s important to engage people like this and understand where their ideas come from, otherwise it’s easy to preach to the choir and not really get ahead in this debate. Thanks IHM for doing so, though honestly I think your exasperation broke through the bounds of logic in a couple of answers🙂

    Like

      • they are logical, dear. no offense meant. just making the point that we need to repeat the basic premise of the right to freedom and happiness for everyone on their terms over the pre-decided unequal rights that a patriarchal framework accords men and women, in the absence of an understanding on this basic presumption, you have no choice but to repeat the conceptual framework again and again. totally admire your patience for rebutting every single point here!

        Like

        • my dear, do not grieve. only in Indian culture,married woman is addressed as ‘dharma patni’; man is not addressed so. woman is compared with mother earth; not man, i am from matriarchal society where women have more rights and privileges than men. you should be happy that you are not under middle east culture and not in west where broken homes are rampart. be happy where you are put in by god almighty. do not complain. be loyal to him.; HE will put you where you want to go.( may be in deva loka).

          Like

      • Sba, you’re sounding more and more ridiculous by the minute. I want you to go and speak to the families in your life. Honestly speak to them. Speak to the wives especially. I guarantee you, even under this “traditional” fold you speak from, 50% of them will say they wish for a divorce.

        Also, your basic premise equating broken families with divorce and single-parent hood is inherently false. Families are not broken because of separation that eases the minds of the parents. Families are broken when the people in them are unhappy and abused. Unhappiness and abuse breeds further unhappiness and abuse. Go speak to the children and wives of those who were raised under the garb of “culture”, and they will tell you the ways in which families break.

        Like

  11. Oh jeez, gimme a friggin break. I don’t even have the patience you showed in reply to the comment IHM. Kudos to you. There is no explaining to people like these. They think what they want to think is right and follow it. I feel sorry for this person’s wife/daughter or whosoever (female) is remotely related to him. I hope they make him realize his folly. That is all.

    Like

  12. Does this man see that it is men who gave birth to this ‘I, me, myself’ culture? You fast for ‘me’, pray for me, be nice to me, be obedient to me, by appealing (sexy) only for me… for “my” eyes only, “you must do everything for my parents”, you live in “my” house”, “the children take my name; you must take my name”, “my” career is more important than yours or ours… and last but not the least – “i” am your god (pativrata nari, pati parmeshwar).
    I pity this man. he’s just scared of losing the fort. Fear. The fear of which he speaks so gloriously as being the means to help our culture thrive, the same fear has him blinded to the discrepancy in ensuring basic human dignity to both men and women.

    Like

  13. @sba,
    “only in Indian culture,married woman is addressed as ‘dharma patni’; man is not addressed so. woman is compared with mother earth; not man,”
    And THAT is supposed to help women HOW?!!! I will start calling men ‘dharm pati’ and Father Earth if the groping,,harassment, violence, rapes against women will stop. Any takers?

    Like

  14. IHM ” I” and I say that I is big bold uppercase font size 100 agree with all your reasoning up there. Men want the whole world of a woman to focus on them and her I ,me ,myself is a rebellion whereas his is his birth right?
    Gentleman let girls be born in this country as freely as we want boys to be born and the day that happens we will be on a justified argument as equals.

    Like

  15. There are too many nonsense words in this commenter’s sentences. Such as:

    “Moral Fabric” – what the hell does that mean anyway?

    “On one hand you want to live in a pleasant and vibrant society ” – I don’t want this. Just stay out of our way and mind your own business.

    “Marriage…is about their parents, about their future children, about their community.” – For you maybe. You don’t get to make up rules for everyone else.

    “Just like as citizens are expected to uphold certain norms and work for the betterment of the wider society” – There are no “norms”. Just laws. And never mind this so called “society”. Talking about “society” makes my head ache.

    “Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society” – Good. Society needs to die so that people mind their own business and don’t hurt other people.

    “The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India” – They don’t want to be the backbone thank you very much. Go put your expectant burdens on someone else. Like yourself maybe.

    The rest is unsubstantiated rants.

    Like

    • Respect Bhagwad!
      I am a regular reader at IHM’s; but comment rarely. Your comment on last post- ‘anti men / don’t include all men’. See this post; he represents large majority of Indian men in this attitude/behavior/treatment of other human beings( we have seen many Shravan kumars here too). Women’s day to day encounters are with this large majority and our opinions/anger/frustrations are formed from these experiences( being groped/assaulted/sh…shushed/being the backbone of culture/tired of sitting on Goddess pedestal etc). The tribe of men like You, GVji, Praveen Talwar(IHM where did he disappear?) and Niketan are so small that most of us do not come across them, for months/years. I have huge respect for you all, to say in public forum that you treat women as human beings and equal, without the fear of being judged /called names.
      Here is a hope to much more enriched encounters frequently!

      Like

  16. Dear Mr Letter Writer,

    I understand that you’re genuinely worried about the state of Indian society. And I sympathize, no really. I do. Things have changed dramatically in urban India in the last twenty years or so (perhaps with the entry of Pepsi and Coke and the great Indian liberalization). More women are working instead of staying home to take care of their children. More women are wearing western clothes and in this process giving up traditional Indian jewelry and symbols of marriage. There’s less emphasis on festivals and rituals. Joint families are reducing in urban India. Rates of divorce in urban India have gone up. The list is endless. I can understand how this must be worrying to you because it goes completely against traditional Indian values. Doesn’t it? Of course, you’re right in pointing out that it’s because women are thinking more about themselves. So far, I understand.

    Now, think for a moment why this is so. I’m thinking back to my favourite times as a child – when I used to go to my dad’s ancestral village to attend weddings. My grandfather was a very strict and traditional man. Therefore, every night, the women of the household used to cook dinner and serve it. Imagine this – there were over twenty families gathered there. This would mean about twenty women who would have to cook for about eighty or ninety people, right? Except, some women would be handling the decorations for the mandap, many would be taking care of children, some of them would be handling miscellaneous tasks. Some of them would – unfortunately – get their period and could not be in the kitchen. Ultimately, about four or five women would have to cook for eighty people. Not just that, they would have to cut the banana leaves, clean them, wash the courtyard (after each batch), bend to serve people sitting on the ground, clear the dirty leaves, wash again, serve again… They finally sat down to eat the tasteless leftovers by 10pm. They would then clean up after themselves and go to sleep only to wake up by 4am to get things ready for my grandfather’s puja and also to start preparations for the day’s functions (those were the days of 5 day weddings). The men woke up by 6 or so. They also went to bed by 9pm or so (no TV)

    You look at the joy of festivals celebrated the traditional way but did you ever stop to think that this joy was the product of slave labour? Yes, it’s slave labour because the men don’t work during festivals. Only women do. Men eat on time. Women eat late. Men don’t starve in the traditional system if there’s less food. Only women do. Men don’t participate in child-care. Today, men work. But I know for a fact that in land owning families in villages, most men did not have to work as hard as women. Today women are asking why only they are denied the joy on a festive day. Do you have an answer?

    At the time of my last uncle’s wedding, even my little village got caterers. My grandfather was no more, so we decided to outsource this work. At this wedding, we actually spent time together as a family. Women included. Yes, the food didn’t taste as good. But no one complained. In fact, all the men only said, we wish our father/uncle had let this happen in his time.

    In a society without birth control or sanitary products women could not dream of stepping out of their house because they either had babies or periods. Today, women are not bound by biology anymore. Should we still continue to live as though we are?

    I understand that it seems wrong to you that something “stable” is now disintegrating. But if you stop to think, this stability was born at the expense of women and their happiness. Would you dream of entering an office and asking someone their caste? Would you ask a person of a particular caste to quit their job and only take up their ancestral profession? Once upon a time, upper castes would consider it their right to exploit the lower castes. Today, would you agree to it? At least in principle we agree that it’s wrong to practice untouchability. Did society collapse when this injustice was corrected? Then why do you feel that society will collapse if women are finally treated as equal human beings?

    Sincerely
    S.B.

    Like

    • @S.B

      So agree on the festival. My mom literally dreaded these communal festivals because she would not get any rest. She would be expected to “help” while all the men sat around tch tching about how the moral fabric of the society is crumbling. She hated those huge family picnics because it meant cooking for those 40 odd people on a day she was supposed to be having fun with her family.

      Even now, when my extended family suggests we go on a vacation and cook something for everyone there – I immediately volunteer. To eat🙂 Afterall it is my vacation too and I am not spending it slogging in the kitchen of a beautiful cottage that is right on the beach!

      Like

      • That is exactly why I hated going to our hometown during the husband’s annual leave. It would be ‘leave’ and relaxing time for him. While it meant slogging even harder in the ‘community kitchen’ for me! Why would I want to travel all the way to work in some other kitchen? I might as well work in my own kitchen!

        Like

    • @SB: So beautifully put.. I remember my cousin brother’s rice feeding ceremony..My mom had to cook for 50 people. A cook could have been appointed but elders(mostly my grand mom) discouraged it. The result, in her wrist one vein went up the other vein due to tossing the huge amount of food in the kadai, she had to be rushed to the doctor.. She was in immense pain after that.. In the hindsight it was a blessing in disguise because after that no one could ask her to cook and in later family functions dad ensured that cooks could be appointed. However even then this did not leave people(grand mom, aunty(bua ji)) from slamming her how she was not being a good daughter in law by not cooking for relatives blah blah….

      Like

  17. Oh yes, the backbone bit! “The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India”
    How easy to assign others to be backbones (of India!). How about being the backbone yourself?

    Like

    • Well said, as an Indian woman, I no longer want to be relegated to the back bone of society. I want to be the front, center, face of it. No more slaving in the background, supporting and keep the wheels running. I want to be the big decision maker, enabler and the maker of future destiny, not THEIR wives. If this is not a fitting role for a “traditional hindu women” in this LW’s opinion, then go hell with it, I will change my religion right away. What good does it do for ME anyway?

      Like

      • The thing is, I’m not even sure if all this ‘tradition’-related stuff is true. Hindu mythology has plenty of non-wimpy female figures. Who were vengeful, fell in love, even had pre-marital sex.🙂 Only Sita and Savitri were goody-two shoes types, and hence they are always dragged out as examples.

        Like

        • Savitri chose the man she wanted to marry and persuaded her not-so-keen father for the same. She also was highly intellectual woman who impressed Yama by her logic and philosophy to effectively rescue her husband, not other way around. So she was no docile miss goody two shoes. I would consider her an independent minded, strong-willed woman who knew her mind and how to get what she wanted. The dialogue between Yama and Savitri is a masterly treatise on death, on what it means to be alive and such, it is a scintillating read. It contains deep philosophy and truths about human mind and spiritual life. It is a pity that it has been reduced to the lore of ‘savitri’s purity and love for her husband’ got her husband back.

          As for Sita, when asked for a second time agni-pariksha.. what did she do? She asked to go back to her mother Earth, effectively choosing never to be with the King Ram again. You must be aware that till now, folk songs characteristically sing of Sita’s pride, condemning Ram as a husband and sing that no woman get a husband like Ram.

          One should not go simply by the narrative being served in currently popular media outlets or simply by hearsay.

          Like

  18. “All this is symbolism, you say. All of life is symbolism, take that away (why have flag hoisting, for eg:) and what is left of life ?”

    Flags are not hoisted on somebody’s head. Heck, you cannot even hoist it on your neighbour’s garden without their permission. There is a difference between existence of symbols and forcing symbols that mean something to you on others and expect them to follow your ideology. Women are not inanimate objects to put a label of ownership on them. I can only despair that like you, a lot of people respect women for these labels and not for them being a human first.

    What did crack me up though was this-
    “… a marriage is an arrangement wherein you say that you will uphold certain order and tradition for the general wellbeing of society.”

    Oh so people marry for the benefit of the society?! How naive, to be polite.

    Like

  19. I read this as,
    ‘ I would like you to take care of ME ‘
    ‘ Wear these things so I will feel like it extends my life’
    ‘marriage is about more than 2 people, parents , community etc., MOSTLY MINE’
    ‘perform customs and rituals that are useful for ME’
    ‘let our kids be raised by grandparents’
    ‘wear these things so the world know YOU are not available’
    ‘ if you want to live in a pleasant vibrant society, you should do ALL these for me’
    and finally ‘ Taking care of me and you will preserve the moral fabric of society’

    ha ha ha , the younger girls i know say to this ‘ IN your dreams buddy’ and i hope their ranks grow.

    I as an indian woman want the exact same-things, well the constitution says I’m to be treated equal to any man right. and the good god created us the same.

    how convenient it is to want women to be the upholders of moral fabric, i don’t see us wanting the moral fabric, so if it’s important to you, you uphold it. if symbols of marriage are so important, you wear it. you do the rituals and you dress to say you are unavailable. somehow when topic of culture comes around ONLy the women have to uphold it ? why?

    The biggest scam is a one liner saying ‘ yes we men were pampered and we’ need to change, slowly’ — WHY you knew all along you were pampered right, knew you were lording it over women, yet doing it? where did the moral fabric and cultural values of these types of MEn ( not all ) die then?

    if one cannot treat another human being ( of either sex) justly then there is no moral, no fabric, no culture, no society ,, it’s pure slavery, cloaked in beautiful saree and jewels it’s still slavery.

    Like

  20. I want no part of society or culture that does not treat 2 people the same.
    i want no part of marriage where I’m in to please someone
    I want no part of symbols which makes me miserable and someone else happy
    I want no part in raising my grand kids at my old age.
    I want no part of rituals that are meaningless to me.
    I want no part of culture that does not benefit me.

    This is not me being ‘ I,Me, Myself’ selfish, this is me refusing to pamper your ‘I, Me,Myself’ selfishness.

    This is just me trying to like out my purpose in life , happily and trying to do good. — erre just as our great culture says we should..

    Like

  21. You know what, we are tired of upholding Indian values and culture. We have given up. We were never sincere to begin with. Even if we do, we’ll just be pretending. Who wants that?
    Why don’t you take on the responsibility? At least, with your knowledge there’ll be some
    sincerity.
    Here’s your chance to improve our society… step up.. show the way to others…

    Like

  22. I don’t know how you got from married women not wearing mangalsutra to throwing dead bodies wherever convenient and not celebrating birthdays?! And what is this breakdown of the west you speak of…?

    Like

  23. I’ll come back and comment at length, since I have to get to school. But I’ll just leave this here.

    “children who grew up with single parents.”

    My father grew up with a single parent–my grandma. He is twice the human being you, or any other product of patriarchy, could ever hope to be. He’s one of the happiest, most well-adjusted, successful people I know, and a constant reminder of the fact that no matter what age you are, it’s not too late to learn, to be successful, and to be happy. He learned these lessons from my grandmother. Just my grandmother, who outstrips my own parents (together, as a unit), in raising a child.

    I would even venture so far as to say that he is much, much more well-adjusted than you, someone who leans upon the crutch of “tradition” and “culture” to enable you to be a good, kind human being who contributes positively to society.

    So yes, please do go on about how joint families are so much better. Especially for the women and children who are abused, neglected and subjected to trauma as a result of family politics.

    Like

    • This is a very long comment. Sorry.:/
      “Let me ask you a counter question – why have any customs at all. Why have marriage, or namakaranam or gruhapravesham or anything at all. Why celebrate birthdays?”

      If celebrating my birthday came attached with the inherent tradition that someone else had to suffer, be treated as less than a human, and have their choices taken away, I would not just question celebrating my birthday. I would stop celebrating it in such a way that causes people suffering.

      Also, people who don’t want to celebrate birthdays don’t celebrate them. You get a choice. Not celebrating them doesn’t mean that you stay a certain age forever, you’re going to grow older no matter what. Similarly, not wanting to celebrate certain traditions doesn’t mean that people are lawless and immoral. If an individual needs traditions in order to prevent immorality, then I would stay far, far away from that person.

      “This I me myself culture that most of you on the forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.”

      If someone asked you to make decisions that made you unhappy, would wanting otherwise make you selfish? If someone held a gun to your head and told you that tomorrow, you HAD to do EVERYTHING for them from hereafter, even if it means that you cannot go to work, you cannot leave your house, you cannot pursue your hobbies, would wanting to do any of those things be selfish? This is the problem that Indian women face every day, in the name of “tradition” and “culture”. They are told that their individuality does not matter, that their happiness does not matter, and that wanting to be content with life is a crime because their satisfaction means someone else will have to fend for themselves for once in their life.

      Women who wish to break out from under the umbrella of tradition do not ask society to cater for all of their needs. They simply ask that they be allowed to make their own decisions about their lives. You do this every day. Does this make you selfish? I bet you a million dollars that you would say that you are “anything but selfish”. But somehow, the fact that women do not want to think about taking care of YOUR every need makes THEM selfish. Who’s the hypocrite here? Hint: it’s not us.

      “Marriage is itself NOT just about two people. It is about their parents, about their future children, about their community.”

      Perhaps not, but in a marriage, the people who take ultimate precedence ARE the two people involved in it. The parents, their future children, and their community will have to take a back seat. If I get married, I’m not doing it for the sake of my community, or for my parents. I’m doing it for my own personal happiness, and for the happiness of my future husband. Yes, I know, it’s very sad and outrageous that you don’t matter very much in this equation, but not everything is about you. Sorry. [Incidentally, again, please tell me who is selfish here.]

      “a marriage is an arrangement wherein you say that you will uphold certain order and tradition for the general wellbeing of society”

      Last time I checked, women are also part of this “society” you speak of. Shouldn’t marriage uphold their wellbeing as well? If it does not, wouldn’t you say that the institution of marriage, the way you see it, is incorrect because it does not uphold the general wellbeing of society as a whole?

      “Obviously it will not protect you against rape. But traditionally flirting / courtship (within limits) are both a fun and healthy way to get to know people and get married. Having those symbols means sending a clear signal you are not available. It is a sign of commitment and it deserves every bit of respect.”

      1) No, it won’t protect you against rape. Marital rape is still very much a reality that the traditional symbols of marriage actually help propogate, because sex is something that husbands view as “right”, and not as a matter of consent on the part of the wife.

      2) Men don’t wear those symbols. Why is it only the wife who is protected from rape and flirtatious behaviour? Is the husband also not responsible? Why is my future husband exempt from displaying such symbols of commitment? Does this mean that he does not have to commit? Wouldn’t this give him leeway to commit adultery then? Or is adultery and flirtation only a crime when women do it, but not if men do it?

      “There has always been an element of exaggeration and fear put in the rituals and traditions of Hindu/Indian culture.”

      When those rituals and traditions are something that are forced on me, and they deprive me of my humanity, then yes, the fear that is attributed to them is very much justified. If they are going to take away from my happiness only, but ensure that another group of people are always happy and comfortable, then these traditions are unfair and should not be followed.

      “guarantee long life for the husband, but it will give him some peace of mind”

      What about the long life for the wife? If your traditions perpetrate the idea that one person’s life is unimportant, and that their peace of mind is irrelavant when compared to someone else, and if your traditions FORCE people to follow this logic WITHOUT their consent, then your traditions are barbaric.

      “Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society.”

      Moral fabric is not declining because people do not follow traditions. They are in decline because people are insistent about taking away the autonomy of another human being, something they have no right to do.

      “The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India. ”

      I love my country, but I do not want to be the backbone of India. I do not want to carry the weight of one whole country’s moral fibre on my shoulders. I have a hard enough time standing up straight as it is. To place such an expectation on one whole group of people is ridiculous. Why do you expect only the women of India to carry on its backbone? What about you? Why don’t you want to carry on the backbone of India for a change? Men seem to think they’re good enough to warrant a personal servant, but not good enough to be a backbone.

      This is because you know that being the backbone is equatable to being everybody’s slave. That you will not get a choice over your own life. That everything will be decided for you, that you will have to give up your pampered life and start thinking about other people for a change. Being the backbone of this country means that you have to stop being selfish, something you and a lot of men are unwilling to do. And yet, you slam us women for our selfishness.

      “take that away and we will be heading either towards a middle-east kind of society”

      The Middle-East is suffering because of their unhealthy emphasis on tradition. But do not drag them into this debate. You know nothing about their culture, and their people, and it’s disengenuous to talk about them when you clearly don’t know about them.

      As for the West, I have yet to see communal rioting and caste-related murders that happen because of tradition in India.

      “why have flag hoisting”

      Many people are against such unnecessary displays of patriotism as well. India is not perfect. If flag hoisting perpetrated the belief that only Indians are worth anything in this world, then I WOULD NOT WANT TO DO IT. I do not want to celebrate ANY culture that is not inclusive to all human beings. Do not argue that Indian culture is inclusive in any way at all. It is not. It is upheld at the expense of excluding women from the right to be called human beings. Traditions that do this do not deserve to be upheld. Traditions that take away from someone’s happiness do not deserve to be upheld.

      “Yes, not having a sindoor and mangalsutra is a personal choice and one needs to respect that, but one needs to respect a women wearing it a lot more (at least I do)”

      So, you would respect a woman who commits crimes, treats people badly, beats and abuses her children, and manipulates and tortures other people emotionally, if she wears a sindoor and mangalsutra? And you would respect her more than the woman who is kind, smart, intelligent, successful in her life, but does not wear one?

      [Readers of this blog, please tell me where I can get a mangalsutra, ASAP. I’ve always thought there was an easy way to get respect in life, but now I’ve found it!]

      Like

  24. To recap, this person wants….
    – others to carry on his culture for his sake
    – others to uphold stuff he believes in
    – others to adjust to his views
    – others to be the backbone (because he has none?) for his idea of society

    ….and he has the gall to call us self centered?

    They say change starts with self. So please start with yourself and how you will uphold the culture and morals you believe in – by yourself. Please wear your morally correct clothes, stay with your morally correct grandparents, be the backbone you ask of women, wear that married sign on your chest so that others don’t flirt with you. And stop expecting everyone else except yourself to work hard at keeping the illusion going for you.

    Like

  25. So, all those men on this planet, living in other countries, whose wives do not wear thali and mangalsutra, are robbed of their peace of mind and are living shorter lives? Really?
    According to our shastras, Man is supposed to wake at the break of dawn and perform Puja.He would reap 50% punya for doing so.The other 50% goes to the wife.For preparing the materials needed for the puja, keeping the puja room clean, etc.How many men are aware ofthis? Why dont they do it? Why aren’t they interested in doing a puja whose benefits would be shared by the wife?Why are they interested in only those puja that benefit the man? Like Karva Chauth?

    Like

  26. What exactly is the “breakdown like the west” that all these Indian men are so afraid of ?

    Oh well, they will no longer get their carefree, privileged lifestyle of being served fresh rotis, domesticated, good looking, educated (but give it all up) elder care-taker, maid, male child producer, well wisher praying for his long life while endlessly “adjusting” to all the abuse, disrespect, taunts and insult with a smiling face, aka a good cultured Indian bahu. I cannot wait for the day when “breakdown like the west” finally hits the Indian soil full speed and men such as the letter writer are forced to get off their bums and pour their own glass of water (to begin with).

    Age old Indian culture has done nothing to treat women as equal human being worthy of respect, self determination and leading a fulfilling life independent of her relation to a man as her savior/guardian/lord. Enough of that old Indian culture, I want what is best for “i, me, myself”, not gonna apologize or feel sorry for that. There is absolutely nothing wrong in making MY OWN self interest, dignity and happiness THE highest priority in my life ahead of pleasing husband, father, children, MIL, neighbor’s uncle’s mother’s forth cousin. If this is not part of the great esteemed Indian culture, then Indian culture has nothing in it for me and why the hell should I live a miserable, restricted life to uphold the tenets of such a culture? As an Indian male, you have enjoyed generations of un-earned and unquestioned privileges, so I guess you are biased in your awe of the great culture and just not willing to look at its hypocrisy and injustice towards half the population in an objective manner.

    Like

  27. This is similar to some white Southerners’ sentiments in the post-civil war days. They would lament “the good old days” when black people “knew their place”. White men could not continue to be rich with their cotton plantations without black slave labor. White women could not stay out of the sun, drink tea, play bridge, and attend church, while their black helpers cleaned their toilets, cooked their meals and took care of their children. So inconvenient! Why can’t people just stay in their places and be happy? Why can’t they be grateful for the scraps thrown at them? (bhartiya naari, pativratha, matru devo bhava, etc.) Why change the status quo? (coz I’d really rather not give up my privileges). Let me glorify their sacrifice, their obedience, their unquestioning loyalty to tradition, so that hopefully the poor souls won’t suspect a thing and continue to slave for me.

    Another analogy that comes to mind – on my last trip to India, my aunt was complaining that it is harder to find good servants, that servants are getting to be very arrogant these days, they are dressing up too much trying to look like film stars, demanding higher pay, days off, etc. I told her there will come a day when servants will choose other service industry jobs like working as salespersons in stores or making deliveries rather than slave in homes. Then the pay and working conditions will automatically get better. If you can’t afford a sevrant, you will learn to do the work yourself. When you do the work yourself, you will start simplifying things – you will no longer be able to make 10 course meals and keep a spotless house. Your husband who has never stepped in the kitchen all his life will probably start helping you, out of sheer necessity. A lot of changes, yes, but GOOD changes. You may then lament the “good old days” when servants “knew their place” – but what is convenient for a few always comes at the expense of many.

    (Needless to say, my aunt and I are not exactly best friends :-))

    Like

    • I have a bad reputation in my neighborhood for over-paying my domestic help. I pay them well for their work, for extra work, for doctor visits and medicines when needed, and subsidize school fees for their kids. also provide breakfast and morning chai. and their families do dress like film stars thanks to my love for shopping and frequent turnover of clothes. even their babies dress in onesies because they get my little one’s clothes when he outgrows them. leaves are ok if they can arrange for backup. sunday is “kitchen close”🙂

      I don’t get what’s wrong. would you accept a job without healthcare or sick leave? then why don’t you provide them for your workers? I’m not popular among the aunties in this neighborhood…

      Like

      • SB, I can imagine the other aunties cribbing about you🙂 My mom is like you. She had the same lady for the first 20 years of her marriage. She really took care of our helper’s family. She paid her well and understood when she had to take days off when her kids were sick, etc. Her kids played with us. My mom made sure the girls stayed in school and paid their tuition (not expensive as they attended smaller schools). We were asked to give away our old books, clothes, and toys to them. Now, both the girls (my mom’s servant’s daughters) are educated – one works as an admin, the other as a teacher. I’m so proud of my mom for not just preaching but showing us early on that all humans are equal and deserve the same opportunities.

        Like

        • that’s awesome! I learned that from my mom too. my mil’s maid once said to me, I work so hard so that my cchildren can have a better life and they need not do this kind of work for a living. if I can help one or two kids the way your mom has, I’ll be happy🙂

          Like

  28. Just one gem among many –

    “Having those (traditional) symbols means sending a clear signal you are not available. It is a sign of commitment and it deserves every bit of respect.”

    – What about men? It’s okay for them to not where marital symbols? Does them make them look ‘available’? Should we stop respecting men because they don’t wear these symbols? Are husbands that don’t wear these signs not committed to their wives? Do they wish early death upon their wives?

    – What about widowed men? Should we start expecting them to give up colored shirts and pants? Forget shirts and pants, shouldn’t all men be dressed in dhotis and kurtas, even to the workplace? Why are men ‘blindly imitating the West’ and dressing like them and forgetting our wonderful traditions? It’s more comfortable to work in Western clothes, you say? So, let women uphold traditions by wearing sarees, while men wear Western clothes. Different rules for different people. Rules enforced upon people by those who don’t follow them.

    – Should men start covering up their bodies more? Stop taking off their shirts, stop wearing lungis in hot weather, stop folding up their lungis? Because that’s indecent. No, it’s not? But it’s indecent for women to wear shorts in hot weather or while playing sports? Let’s keep them in layers of traditional clothes. So important to uphold traditions for one half of the country.

    – Should men wear ‘ghunghat’ or at least cover their heads a bit, to show respect to elders? No, let’s leave that job to women, they are so much better at it.

    – Should men, upon getting married, go and live with the wife’s family and serve her parents unquestioningly?

    I hope you are beginning to see how illogical this argument starts sounding when you apply it to men.

    Like

  29. “Where does this lead too, its a gradual but sure decline of the moral fabric of society.”
    “The traditional Hindu woman has been the backbone of India. Take time to look at her … she puts up with a lot of trouble, but she is pleasant, smiling and cheerful.”

    Rules that apply only to some people are inherently unfair. They have been put in place to explicitly benefit a few. Over time, they are marketed as being ‘good for all of society’. The victim’s sacrifices are glorified. Glorification of tradition is a commonly used tool throughout history to preserve the status quo and retain it’s benefits.
    During the rise of communism, ‘ selfless obedience to the state’ was glorified.
    During the Vietnam War, ‘the call of duty’ was glorified.
    During the rise of Nazism, ‘reclaiming the strong father (Germany) and rejecting the weak mother (Austria)’ was glorified.
    Where have these horrible sentiments led us to? Endless suffering.
    As a society, for the first time, we are beginning to question these traditions. Far from being the moral degeneration that you describe, I see this as moral awakening. We are finally acknowledging that all humans are equal and the majority need not uphold ‘tradition’ to keep the minority happy.

    Like

  30. Hi IHM,

    I have been reading your blogs for a long time now though this is first time I am commenting.

    I feel this whole striving thing is bullshit. I don’t wear any of those things because I don’t want to. Plain and simple. Was i trying to look unmarried when I was unmarried? No, right? So if I am staying the same after marriage, how can anyone in the world say that I am striving anything? If anything, I would say, that married women are trying to look married. This question should not be asked to the women because they are not ones who change their appearance, but this society who wants them to change.

    Thanks,

    Like

  31. I don’t even have the stamina to write a coherent comment after reading this post. I feel so tired after reading this person’s train of thought. The comments were enlightening, as always.

    Like

  32. Awesome IHM!! This sounds like as if it was a conversation in your head that you had, before you put it down in text… I get like that too, only whenever i’m surrounded by aunties! ha ha ha!

    Cheers!

    J.

    Like

  33. Reading the letter sent a shiver down my spine. I mean, to come out and brazenly declare that women exist only to serve men– I find that chilling. I can only hope that he read through all the comments and maybe, just maybe they sparked off something in his mind and got him to re-think his stance.

    Like

  34. Even the “I, Me, Myself ” culture is a WE culture simply because

    1. Human beings are social beings.
    2. Human body is a Truck load of parkyote cells which have an affect on the psychological self.
    3. The self is a part of a whole so I is we and we is high. Society including. I define who “we” are . We define who I am .
    4. Liberation of self or self actualization is the utmost goal of a human being and we forget that we are focussing that the basic needs of lives are the ONLY priorities left.
    5. If the physically powerful overpowers the not so , it indiicates the insecurity and weakness than the one whom is trying to ambush.

    Like

  35. Pingback: “The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  36. Pingback: “Although my in laws maintain a facade of being content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  37. Pingback: “A Hindu woman derives immense pleasure in sacrifice for her husband. The white man will never ever understand this.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. Pingback: How many women would dare to say this? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  39. Pingback: An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s