“Someone ate without showering, someone didn’t bring mithai! These are trivialities, not social problems.”

This is how we trivialise, invalidate and sometimes even silence the voices that attempt to share the ‘mundane everyday quarrels’ that control women’s choices (or worse). The reason why these ‘trivialities’ are a social problem is that these issues are expected to solve without being questioned, challenged, discussed or ignored, by Please adjusting of less than 50% of the population. These ‘complaints’ will stop being too trivial or petty when women can afford to ignore them or deal with them the way the rest of the population does – without risking allegations of disrespect, and without being asked to rise above them by those who are not expected to share the task of dealing with the same issues (except by asking the women to Please Adjust)

IHM, I think you are being dragged these days into the absolutely most mundane, everyday quarrels people get into in their families. Someone ate without showering, someone didn’t bring mithai. Tomorrow someone will complain about who got to watch their favorite TV show and that one time someone put too much salt in the food…

These are trivialities, not social problems.

I think you are better than this and your blog is better than this. Indian feminists deserve better.

When filial devotion proves useful, it becomes hard to control.’

From Rabindranath Tagore’s Gora, here’s what the father of a daughter experienced: 

“This (proposal) is my good fortune, my glory!” he (the prospective groom) cried.

I asked him about money (dowry). He at once covered his ears and said: “Forgive me, but please don’t mention such things.”

“Very well,” I said, “I shall discuss these matters with your father.” I went to his father as well, and found a big difference between father and son. The father didn’t block his ears at the mention of money, not at all. Rather, he started saying such things, I almost had to stop my own ears.

The son, too, I found to be extremely devoted to his father in these matters—regards his father as absolute divinity—so it will be no use asking him to mediate. This time liquidating my company assets will not suffice. Anyway, you too must discuss a few things with Abinash. A word of encouragement from you …’ ‘That will not reduce the sum of money to be paid,’ Gora interrupted. ‘I know that. When filial devotion proves useful, it becomes hard to control.’

The same rule applies to some of these ‘mundane, everyday quarrels’.

86 thoughts on ““Someone ate without showering, someone didn’t bring mithai! These are trivialities, not social problems.”

  1. @PleaseAdjust

    The issue is not about showers or mithais at all. It is about the lack of choice in matters as trivial as when to bathe. The issue is not about “Please Adjust” but that repeatedly only one person is expected to adjust – expected, not even requested. These are serious issues that needs all the consideration it can get.

    Feminism is not only related to brutal issues like bride burning and sexual harassment, it is also related to everyday ‘mundane’ issues like deciding when you can bathe and when you can eat without guilt. And indeed, only when the day to day lives of women get better and their mundane issues get resolved will there be a much needed attitude adjustment towards women.

    And then, what may not be a worthy cause for you personally is hugely impacting the lives of women who live it everyday. So lets not make hasty judgements.

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  2. I actually happen to find these posts far more moving and meaningful than the big ticket new items. These are the people who might actually take a small step forward toward independence. These are the ones who might be helped through thoughtful sharing on this blog. Society doesn’t change as much through street demonstrations and speeches as it does through the lives of ordinary people like you and me. Culture and society change for the better when we can make little changes in our everyday lives. Many such little changes add up to a much bigger change in society.
    Did you read the book, “The Help”? The characters are neither Martin Luther King Jr nor Rosa Parks. They are 3 ordinary women. They decide to do one small thing – record their ordinary existence, their everyday humiliations, their modest triumphs into a book – yet that IS the real story – how culture as a whole affects the common man or woman.

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  3. It is the mundane, every day things that are the most poisonous, most dangerous forces for oppression in any culture. This is because we ignore them or choose to laugh them off as nothing more than mere “trivialities”, when if we all considered them truly, we would see how dangerous they were. They are dangerous because we never stop to consider why they exist. Why is it that a girl’s family is supposed to bring mithai? Why is it that only the girl is called out for not showering before bathing? Why is it that only the women of our culture must defer, be respectful, not tread on toes, and smile politely while people chip away at our liberty with the excuse of, “It’s just triviality?” Where does this triviality end?

    Sexist jokes, jibes and taunts are considered to be “funny”. People make such comments and complain about protesters being too politically correct without realizing that their words are implications which add fuel to the fire. It is always our smallest actions, our most inconsequential words that ultimately have the biggest impact, because they give permission for the bigger things. We have to question the little things, always. Every river in the world begins as a small trickle of glacial melt water after all.

    Also, the things you talk about as being “trivial” are not trivial to those who are in the receiving end. When these little matters are excuses for ill-treatment and bad mouthing, for incurring abuse and curtailment of a person’s rights, they are not little, but big. If you are told that you have done something wrong, simply because you are a woman, it does not matter how small this action is, it is completely and wholly wrong. To use your example, if a woman in a household is told that she cannot watch her favorite TV show, because she is a woman and therefore should not have luxuries and free time, THIS IS WRONG. Period. The problem is not the watching of TV, but the fact that one cannot do it because of their gender. Likewise, the problem is not just a shower, but the fact that a person was called out on it because of their gender. This was the point of the whole discussion. It seems pretty feminist to me.

    Also, you cannot control how a person feels about things, and you never should. If they are hurt by something, they are hurt–it does not matter if the action is big or small. Pain is pain, and we must always acknowledge and take ownership when we cause it.

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    • “It is the mundane, every day things that are the most poisonous, most dangerous forces for oppression in any culture”
      Well said.
      Mundane everyday sexism, mundane everyday racism, mundane everyday casteism, these are the things that affect most people.
      Plus, “feminism” isn’t about one person/one group of people decide what it should be.

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    • My MIL told me, “This is not a library!” when I was reading a book, AFTER finishing all the work and everyone was relaxing doing their own thing. Oh yes, isn’t it so trivial too, especially when the rest of the household expects me to shut my book pronto and jump through hoops for her amusement?!

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      • This reminds me of when I was trying to make room for my things in my new husband’s overcrowded room. In despair I mentioned I didn’t even have room for a few books. His mother said with genuine exasperation, why do you need to read more books? Doesn’t he have books in here already?

        I would have taken this in a lighter vein if both her sons weren’t filling shelves, cupboards and divans with books, and her husband too.

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  4. These trivialities are the manifestations of social problems.. This is how it manifests in everyday life.. The problem is, the mind has been conditioned to such biased perceptions for centuries that most of the people does not realize these are social problems and mark them as trivial.. small example –
    When my cousin brother was married 6 years back, they were in our house for few days before moving to their own apartment.. There was some small function in the house for which my bhabi was dressing up. She had wore a small bindi. One of my aunts out right told her with contempt -” why have you worn such a small bindi, you are not looking like a bahu, you are looking like a girl.. ”
    Now I felt this was too rude and hurtful.. this is because if it had been the case of suggestion of what would look good on her , the suggestion should have come only if it was asked and it should have been phrased like this – “may be you can try a bigger bindi, it would suit your face “.. In the second case my bhabi would have had the option of telling – no aunty, I like wearing small bindi.. Whereas the first case she did not know what to say.. Thankfully my another aunt intervened and the focus was shifted ..
    So you see the first way of telling is outright contempt and the second one is friendly suggestion..
    Now how this trivial thing is related to social problems ? – well
    1. it is the social problem of allowing the elderly aunt to absolutely order and question the late twenty something new bahu’s choice to what type of bindi she should wear, thus attempting to dictate her simple choices …
    2. It is the social problem that aunty thinks that the new bahu’s marital status is depended on the size of her bindi, thus even though she is married according to the law, if she wears a small bindi she will still be (read ‘looking like’) a girl… Thus being married is not enough, the woman needs to look married to every bloody individual she encounters henceforth..
    3. It is the social problem of having symbols of marriage to be borne only by women which again causes ‘which bindi if you wear you would look married’ to be defined…

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! This is amazing! I faced a similar situation, but BEFORE marriage. The comment about the small bindi came from the sister of the prospective groom when she turned up at our home with her mother, unexpectedly. This was one of 3 red flags I had detected during my interactions with the guy and his family. I point blank refused the proposal. And I am mighty glad I did!

      Yes, it is these small everyday things that add up. Only those who have faced such situations would know how disrespectful these things feel and how unwarranted they are.

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      • I never put on a bindi EVER because of such attempts at bullying when I was young, especially during weddings and festivals. Perfect strangers would come up during weddings and ask me why I’m not wearing one and maybe I should just put a small one, for the sake of ‘tradition’. I would never comply as I never considered they had the right to dictate what I must do.

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  5. I’ve always been really annoyed by people who trivialize genuine concerns of others. The recent posts you’ve had have been very informative and useful, because they illustrate the subtle ways in which women’s choices are being controlled, rather taken away actually. Comments such as the one you’ve spoken to here do nothing but undermine and invalidate the experiences of women. It isn’t simply about eating without showering, its about being told when to shower and when to eat, and being chastised like a child for not following these ‘rules’ that don’t apply to men. Its not a triviality, its a symptom of the larger social problem of treating women as less than human, as infants who need to be told what to do, and punished if they don’t do so.

    If one person in the house, the MIL, FIL, or the son control what is watched on TV ALL THE TIME, or if excess salt is used to berate the one who cooked, these would also be symptoms of the same social problem. In the end, it is all about taking away women’s control over their lives and choices, no matter how ‘mundane’ they may seem to those who have always been ‘allowed’ to make those choices for themselves.

    Your blog is a stage for all of us to explore these issues IHM, so please continue doing the great work you are doing!

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  6. …The son, too, I found to be extremely devoted to his father in these matters—regards his father as absolute divinity—so it will be no use asking him to mediate…

    Gora (1910) and email writers (2013) complaining about sons who regard parents as absolute divinity and won’t open their mouth to injustice and unreasonable demands on adults of younger generation. Sum total, nothing changed other than the oppressed taking to internet their grievances.
    If not for the oppressed to raise voice and demand a change who else will?

    Yes, personal is political but personal is not the only political, this even DG has said many times in the past. The body of work produced on this blog is enough for woman seeking advice and redress her grievances all she has to do is browse and read through the comments but most prefer venting and taking pride in feeling exclusive in the torment.

    Yes, it is time readers and writers here discussed food security and land rights🙂

    Peace,
    Desi Girl

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    • DG, I guess you’re saying this blog is too concerned with middle class and upper class educated women’s everyday issues, and that we ought to be talking more about the issues facing poorer women.

      I don’t agree there.

      It’s not easy to disagree because you ARE right, it isn’t good to have a blind spot about this, and that feminism cannot be only about our class of people.

      On the other hand this blog is not responsible to be everything to everybody. It isn’t necessary that the IHM blog must represent all of feminism. It’s okay — even good — for this blog to focus on its own niche, the struggles of Indian home makers in particular. (It just so happens that there are many Indian working-outside-the-home wives here too because there is rarely an Indian wife who isn’t also required to be a homemaker.)

      Anyway, saying we should “move on” to talking about land rights on this blog is as laughable as saying we should start talking about global warming or the Balkans here. That’s just not the focus of this blog, AND THAT IS OKAY.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If the Indian rich and middle-class women don’t have any rights to speak of in spite of their financial independence, we cannot help our poorer sisters. There is also more work done by NGOs in poor areas and there is plenty of discussion out there on legal matters. But I don’t know that people are able to talk about not wanting mithai anywhere else.

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  7. I agree with the quote, not with the title of the post.
    It is shameful that a person is unable to eat without showering. Granted the issue can be solved on their own in their own house but sometimes people experience less cognition in times of stress and given that in most common households these issues cannot be discussed openly I can imagine how nice they must feel that someone is even listening to their “trivial” and “non-social” problems. I suspect these issues paved way for social problems only because they were brushed off as trivial in the first place.
    Suggestion for IHM: Creating a forum might help channel and filter issues based on content and promote discussion on all topics.

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  8. Dear poster, do you see a pattern in the problems you just dismissed as petty? When it’s one person in the family repeatedly harassed thus, it is an issue to be addressed. Unless, you think, it’s perfectly okay for someone’life to be micro-managed. BTW, my own experience says that men and women who are yet to face similar in-law issues aren’t sensitive to them at all.

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    • Exactly. When issues happen to others, they are trivial. If you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all. This is a principle I follow, so perhaps you could as well.

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  9. “These are trivialities, not social problems.

    I think you are better than this and your blog is better than this. Indian feminists deserve better.”

    1) You got that wrong. They are social problems largely indicative about the inherent patriarchy prevalent in culture and society. Indian feminists deserve to voice their concerns over these severe social problems.

    2) I call this concern trolling. I don’t know who wrote this email, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same person who follows commenters onto their blogs to leave laughably pathetic comments pretending to care about what ‘Indian feminists deserve.’

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  10. you said it, IHM.
    Issues like these are trivial only to those who are not forced to experience them. I’m sure if the person calling this trivial is subjected to the same experience, his viewpoint will change!

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  11. It is important that a woman negotiates before marriage and asks the groom and his people what their expectations are. This can decide whether she wants to marry the man or not. This is in the case of arranged marriages. But when people are dating, it is important to keep eyes/ears wide open to see the red flags.

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  12. Had the LW experienced an angry red faced older family member coming at him (or her) during a meal, screaming, this post wouldn’t be here.

    A case of being unable to see things from another’s perspective, not understanding what freedom and respect mean. In other words, absence of empathy.A surefire impediment to progress in society. A recognized social evil.Lets discuss this instead.Shall we, dear LW?

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  13. Well a journey starts with a single step in the same way all the “big and important” problems related to women need to start with little steps…people talk about teaching men to respect woman but unless your own son, husband, relatives or immediate friends n family dont do the same with u despite knowing u well n close what makes u think the outer society will? These are the little stepping stones towards a bigger goal…unless the kids see that their parents or grandparents treat their mom,sister,other female members of their family properly they wont have anyother place to learn the same from
    Just like its said charity begins from home, letting women make their choices,be independent and have their own voice at home itself gives them the confidence of doing the same outside further this way other men also will know how to behave with women.

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  14. Actually I understand the perspective of the person who sent the email. It crossed my mind reading some posts that the stories were difficult to interpret as bullying. If you have a good relaxed relationship with your MIL, then you won’t really care that she says this or that or that your father insists on bringing sweets. And you can interpret Indian traditions (not all) in a good light, and adapt them to present day.

    However, I know by experience that when someone bullies you, this person will know exactly how to make you feel miserable or angry with a few words, a sneer, a look, a gesture… and it is almost impossible to explain to other people, they will always say you are exagerating and it can’t be as bad as that. In my experience, in some cases, if your bully is a professional bully, the only way out (if you can’t remove yourself of the situation) is working on yourself, building a tougher skin, then the dynamics of the relationship totally changes, it’s amazing. Because the bully only wants to make you miserable and will use every petty issue to do so. If the issue was really hygene or sweets, it would be possible to have an adult conversation with the other person, wouldn’t it ?

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    • You’re mistaken. Even when I have a really good relationship with my MIL, I don’t expect her to comment on me eating my meals without shower. Especially when my husband is eating next to me without having a shower. It is wrong and that won’t change. Every person is an individual and if you believe in something you’re free to follow it, just don’t thrust it down the other person’s throat.
      And the way out of bullying is to stop bullying, not to grow a thick skin to take more of it. I’d say talking things out and making it clear to everyone concerned about invalidity of their expectations is a good start. Even when the concern is not hygiene or sweets. The need of the hour is to talk and set things straight.

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      • True. No ‘good’ relation with anyone gives them the right to comment or make discriminatory ones.
        I am fed up of people advising to ignore, grow a thick skin etc. WTH. I totally agree with this:
        “I’d say talking things out and making it clear to everyone concerned about invalidity of their expectations is a good start. Even when the concern is not hygiene or sweets. The need of the hour is to talk and set things straight.”

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      • This. The MIL even said ‘it is different for boys’ in the LW’s case, so I really fail to see how this can be taken in a positive light.

        I understand the perspective of the person who sent this mail too, unfortunately I don’t see it as anything nearly as innocent as Victoria does. This person knows that we are looking at a pattern of behaviour towards the DIL here, no one else in the family- just her, and wants us to ignore it as as unimportant. When something is clearly a patter, as illustrated well by all the emails shared here, how can it be disregarded as a small individual matter? I’m afraid I see that as malicious. Just like domestic violence was once a small matter ‘between the husband and wife’.

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        • @Carvaka – “pattern of behavior” – so well said. It is indeed a pattern – that’s what makes it malicious. The irony is that even the kids get better treatment than their mom.
          Also agree with Shail – I’m so sick of the “just ignore” advice often given to women by their husbands or parents who’d rather not deal with the unpleasant truth.

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    • how is the advice to grow thicker skin any different from victim blaming? it seems suspiciously like the “cover up and don’t go out after dark” piece of wisdom.

      the onus lies on the bully. ALWAYS.

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  15. I was the one who wrote that comment. I did not ask any one to “adjust”, I just said that some women need to stop behaving like a 5 year old, grow up and handle everyday trivialities on their own without having to whine.

    In any family, as in any interacting set of human beings, there are always petty struggles built around power equations. It happens at home, it happens at work and it happens to all of us. Grow up, its the everyday crap that everyone faces: men, women and even kids. Don’t let your inflated sense of self tell you that the petty crap you face everyday is part of some cosmic problem of women’s oppression.

    What seems to be happening here is that a bunch of fairly privileged, pampered women are trying their best to blame the teeny tiny difficulties they face (just like everyone else) on sexism as a form of escapism. Sexism is real, your trivial troubles are not. Man up (or should I say, woman up) and face them…

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    • What makes it sexism is that they are singled out for attack BECAUSE they are women. These barbs are never directed at men. And sexism is always manifested in the small interplay of relationships in a family. It’s the basis of sexism, not big things like rape or bride burning. If the small things are taken care of at the basic level, the big things simply won’t happen.

      For example, I think when women agree to live in joint families, they are going to face discrimination. You’ve given up your integrity and your name, and move into another family just because your husband is a man, and you are a woman. That itself is sexist. If you pander to that, the rest will come too. You need to put your foot down at the first stage.

      But I completely agree with your other point. They are actually whining and not lifting a finger to help themselves. I was especially shocked at the list of options she had made by the breakfast post lady and then she ended up claiming she didn’t want to do any of them but just wanted things to change. Yeah, right! Such people annoy me beyond belief.

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      • Sumit and Fem, there is something called as conditioning and the other thing called society which makes them scared to do anything about their situation even though they want to. Just that they don’t want any turmoil as it will create a huge thunderstorm in all related people’s lives. We as human crave security in everything. Most of us girls are brought up to think of marriage as the be all end all of life. If you leave the relationship or the husband does, it is mostly the wife that faces atrocities in society. So it is normal for her to be scared to cause any kind of stir.
        But since she reads these blogs and is educated it is normal for her to wish a happy independent life for herself. So it is the transition that is missing here. And it is no wonder that majority of Indian women fall into this category. They read and see others who live life as they want and dream of being like them someday. It is not wrong. Only they have to develop courage to raise their voice. And it can’t happen in a day or two.

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      • “But I completely agree with your other point. They are actually whining and not lifting a finger to help themselves.”

        But Fem, this is not just a ‘help’ or ‘advice’ forum. The women aren’t even necessarily writing to ask for help. It is a means of voicing their stories and I disagree with shutting them up by saying ‘this is your personal issue’. It is not a petty personal issue, because these attacks are motivated by gender, not by personality. In fact these emails serve to demonstrate that these are NOT individual matters, but part of story of everyday patriarchy.

        I agree that inaction on part of women in patriarchy can be frustrating, but Sumit here would rather that we shut up women who are struggling to find their courage, because he’s basically bored with their ‘issues’. I’m afraid I cannot agree with any of it.

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        • I don’t want to shut them up. I am expressing my frustration at them, which I am entitled to do. I have several friends who keep talking and talking and talking about how bad it is but won’t do a thing to help themselves and won’t accept any offer of help. I have had to actually distance myself because of the toxicity that comes from them. My offer of help is still open but everyday friendship is now out of the window, sadly.

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    • How exactly do you think she should “woman up” and “face them”? And why the hell should only women face such stupid crap emotional abuse from their in-laws where as Indian men are treated as divine gifts of god, if that is not sexism to you then what is? When is sexism real enough, can you please define? What makes you say what these women deal with is a “teeny time difficulty”? Can you give an example of “everyday crap” Indian men face at the hands of their in-laws to give you a false sense that all men, women and even kids face it hence women have nothing special to whine about ?

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    • wow! classic case of
      “जाके पैर न फटी बिवाई , वो क्या जाने पीड़ पराई ” (for english readers: Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches)

      please try and develop some empathy.

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    • “I just said that some women need to stop behaving like a 5 year old, grow up and handle everyday trivialities on their own without having to whine.”

      Have you read any of the comments here? It’s the every day trivialities that matter the most. When we give those things the pass, we’re basically saying it’s okay to torment people and single them out on the basis of their gender. How is that okay? Those things you sneer at as “teeny tiny difficulties” are the symptoms of a much larger problem in society. That larger problem cannot be resolved if we do not begin solving the smaller issues.

      Your suggestion of “womaning up” is, in fact, the ultimate form of escapism. Instead of addressing these issues in a constructive manner, untangling their roots and solving them effectively, you’re asking countless women to ignore and silently endure every day indignities. You can either solve problems by airing them out, complaining about them, and alerting people to their existence, or you can silently suffer and continue to create a culture where it is permissible to bully people.

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    • @Sumit
      “Grow up, its the everyday crap that everyone faces: men, women and even kids.”
      To a certain extent, what you say is true. Bullying exists in schools, in workplaces and in any organisation where human beings interact, and the structure is tiered.

      The difference, to me, lies in the details.
      Bullying at school and the workplace are recognised as ‘bad’, and there is always some form of ‘official’ redressal mechanism on top of individual efforts to handle/stop it.

      However bullying in the home and family are normalised to such an extent that people are invisible to it.
      The normalisation exists because of patriarchy , and the notion that some people have automatic ‘rights’ over others by virtue of their gender,age,and position in the family structure.
      Of course all types of family members are affected by this, men,women and children, but you must be acutely blind to reality to deny that women, especially married ones, are often the worst affected, and are much worse off in this system.
      In fact, even in schools and workplaces, bullying does not happen to everyone equally. There are some who are more at the receiving end than others- in families, they happen to be the women.

      And that’s just the ‘bullying’ I am addressing. What really happens often exceeds the brief of ‘just bullying’ – excessive control over personal choices, interference in reproductive matters, unfair and excessive expectations because of gender and age- these are realities, whether you acknowledge them or denigrate them as trivial.

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    • so, you would “man up” if any of the following happen? a random person throws a brick at your window and walks away as though nothing happened. each time you replace the window he comes and breaks it again. you go to the police and they say they have more important things to do than look at broken windows. you try to reason with the person. he agrees to stop but immediately goes back in to throwing bricks. you can’t stop noticing the broken window because it’s part of your house. your roommate comes up to you and says that if you don’t shower before you eat it implies your parents didn’t teach you anything. your boss comes and measures the length of your sleeves everyday and links sleeve length to your character. he only does this to you and to none of the women. your friend checks if you’re wearing your watch everyday. if you’re not, then it means you are ashamed to be married because you were given the watch at your wedding. your uncle expects you to give him gifts for every occasion. these gifts are displayed to everyone in his social circle. if any one person says something bad about a gift, your uncle feels deeply dishonored and blames you for it every single day until the next gift giving occasion. you have no option of refusing because then you will be labeled an uncompromising person forever. none of these people ever stop. you’re not allowed to complain because they’re just “trivialities” in the big scheme of things. right? if you’ve never been bullied, you can’t judge those who have been. sorry about that. please adjust!

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    • Fairly privileged – yes to comment on a blog we need access to computer and internet connection which is not available to most of the people in the country. I will give you that one. Pampered? Really? You know each woman here personally and can vouch for the fact that they are pampered? Its an incorrect assumption and uncalled for.

      These trivialities ARE sexism. Because they are directed at women for the sole reason that they are women. Isn’t that the very definition of sexism? To reduce a person to a gender while ignoring every other aspect that makes them an unique individual?

      I agree that these troubled women should do SOMETHING. And writing to IHM and reading all the replies is a part of that something. Sometimes, the conditioning we grow up with is so great that it does take a forum to clearly see what is being done to you. When more than 100 people comment and say that these expectations are wrong, even ridiculous, there is hope that the troubled person realizes it.

      And lastly, on the surface it may seem like it is about something very mundane like when you can eat, but 99% of the times, it is affecting so many other areas of that woman’s life. The eating part is something she is talking about while 100 other things remain unsaid. You think a person who cannot eat what she wants when she wants is really given a choice on her spending, her pregnancy, her parenting?

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    • LOL it was soooo easy to guess that the LW must be a dude, ie someone who is talking out his butt and has no clue. Hey here’s an idea: go impart your wonderful manly wisdom somewhere else, yeah? Maybe to some other unfortunate bunch of women too cowed by the patriarchy to call your BS. That’s where you’re going to find the ego boost you’re looking for: ooooh, so smart, so brave, so right, you know all about sexism despite never having experienced it AND you know how to solve not only women’s problems but also feminism’s problems, what a studly genius you are thank you for showing us the Truth and the Way…. Sound about right?

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    • Of course everyone undergoes power-play in their personal lives and at work. However, if I got singled out for something at work because I am a woman, I sure as hell will drag everyone’s ass to HR and threaten to sue. Why should I have to allow that kind of behavior in my personal life? When men are expected to “adjust” at the same scale as women are expected to, we’ll have something to discuss. I was not given birth to, given education and brought up as a responsible adult only to be stomped over by “upholders of tradition”. As long as I am polite and respectful with everyone, no one has the rights to tell me how I should live my life.

      Like

    • You say that these women have an ‘inflared’ sense of self.. and what about your own? Coming here telling women what they should and shouldn’t be concerned with, who do you think you are? What gives you the right to judge women’s troubles as trivial or not, considering that you with your male privilege never have to put up with them? Get over yourself.

      When someone is allowed to get away with things like ‘it’s different for boys’ or ‘ladki wale can at atleast do this or that’, there is no question of the sexism at play! Are you serious about your insulting ridiculous misogynistic comment? You think people kill their little baby girls and burn their DILs without any previous signs of their misogynistic attitudes? No, right? So what are these signs? Everyday abuse and oppression of the female.. this ‘petty crap’ you mention.. this is the pre-cursor to all things worse. This daily reminder of their ‘place’ in society is the biggest symptom of the state of our misogyny (yes, even more so than the many rape cases in the papers everyday).

      The email writers aren’t whining like children, they are sharing their stories in a feminist forum, demonstrating a pattern that ALL women in our society are subject too, privileged or not. They haven’t asked you to fight with their FILs for them, they are adding their stories to the countless others that the women here are aware of.. so that we know, these are not isolated ‘petty’ incidents. Or do you only deem something as sexist when it results in a woman dying? Luckily, no one is waiting for your approval of their ‘issues’ before voicing them here or anywhere!

      Like

    • And yet another modern day Shravan Kumar trolls IHM’s blog.

      I’m glad the “concern” cover is blown, and the OP’s misogyny is out in all its petty ugliness.

      Maybe dismissing others’ issues as “petty crap” makes him feel less of a loser and more of a man.

      Please don’t feed the trolls, IHM. An entire post in response to such pettiness is more attention than the likes of these deserve.

      Like

  16. When society demands that women stay within narrow and ever decreasing concentric circles, the smallest problems loom large. When women demand more or to be heard, they are dismissed as trivialities and their problems are dismissed as trivialities.

    Consider a drop of water. A drop by itself will not drown you, but if you have enough drops, you may have enough to drown in. So it goes with trivialities.

    Like

    • How beautifully said…I just loved this : “Consider a drop of water. A drop by itself will not drown you, but if you have enough drops, you may have enough to drown in. So it goes with trivialities.”

      Like

  17. Even if, for the sake of assumption, a letter writer only vents here and does not take the comments seriously, I bet there are many more women with similar problems struggling with others taking control of their lives, but unable to word it or express it, feeding on the encouragement this platform provides. The truth is that these so called trivialities are not exclusive. They exist in different forms and shapes in different people’s lives. While trying to help one woman, unknowingly so many might get help – one of the main reasons why I love this blog.

    Like

  18. It is the small things always which need to be checked in order to prevent the larger problems. It was the controlling of petty crimes in new york which brought down the serious crime rates.
    Family is the fundamental or basic unit of society. Thus family is the ONLY level at which things will start to change or can be changed, these ‘trivialities’ need to be and can be taken care of by individuals in daily life. Discussing these things on the blog is more important than any grandiose ideas because these are actionable objectives, and commentators always call out letter senders to pluck up courage and face the situation of intimidation. If this was a high-school/college/gay bullying support forum ,would you still try to brush off such a forum as unnecessary and trivial?

    Like

  19. They are not trivialities at all, they are social problems which start in the natal home, which is honestly the source of the problem! There are social problems even in these simple things like taking a shower! It speaks volumes for the bigger problems! That is the source!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  20. It STARTS with the ” trivialities.”

    IF it was trivial, It would not have been pointed out with an ACCUSING tone.

    Funny that somebody bought out the shower topic . it happened to me as well and then moved on to the ticket items like my salary in the first 3 months of the marriage itself , talking to other men, sitting beside them, not going to visit my parents ( all these rules when the IN LAWS were visiting)

    If I dont shower they had a problem, but when their son did NOT shower because it was a weekend they had NO PROBLEM. woh to teek hai ! we are the women, supposed to take care and uphold traditions …I dont remember what was the next. Actually the shower thing became a real ruckus .

    Like

  21. Pingback: To call a Spade a S**** | Speech is Silver, Typing is Golden

  22. This post reminds me of a lot of the comments I read during the Indian version of slutwalk. People commented that women were involving themselves with trivial issues like being able to dress the way they wanted while in other parts of India women were being raped, killed etc. I think this is a common strawman argument which can be used to trivialize any problem. E.g. “you are a rich black person and were told you couldn’t afford a handbag worth thousands of dollars and you are complaining about racism. How can you complain about this when there are starving children in Africa”.
    Similarly these women’s complaints showed how even in seemingly liberal and forward thinking households women are often showed “their place”. A household where a woman is treated as second class is not going to believe her or support her if she needs help. E.g. Imagine in one of the stories one of the working daughter in laws came home and complained about sexual harassment from an extended family member. Do you think she has the confidence that she will be believed and supported? Or will she think that she is “ladki wale” or “it’s ok for boys”.

    Like

  23. If they are indeed trivial problems, then why does someone has problem if someone eats without taking a shower or someone didnt bring mithai. Well they would be trivial problems the day when MIL complains about DIL eating without taking a shower and she is told – now come on this is so trivial, cant you just let go.

    Like

  24. Very well said. ‘trivialities’!!! ask people like me who were at the receiving end of such ‘trivialities’ day in and day out for 6 years…till i decided to walk out…and even thereafter by my mother who felt i should not break my marriage our such ‘trivialities! Makes my blood boil to see people dismissing cleaverly disguised or even open opression as trivial.

    Like

  25. Dear Sumit,

    I am told people who go to jail suffer more than these women do. And I am sure some social workers take the “making jails hospitable and humane” cause seriously as they well should.
    There are other sorts of bullying. Children are bullied by bigger Children. Child molestation happens. Ragging happens. Ragging touched astronomical heights as they were packaged as good fun. Same goes to eve-teasing. Packaged as youthful good fun, it trivialised the extent of problems faced by harassed women. And yes, men are very often harassed by their bosses. There is office politics, there are insults and there are other problems. All these problems should be targeted separately without being told that one is bigger than the other.

    Not all of us have been to jail and not all of us were raped. But all of us were bullied in varying degrees. It is a problem that deserves the whining as we all face them. We need each other.

    The girl who wrote about the bathing/eating problem probably has not reacted yet. But if she reads all these comments and gets a bit more assertive and takes her life and happiness in her own hands, then it really is a success of this platform. And don’t you think there are at least a 100 more who feel their emotions validated through these responses?

    When a man is harassed in his workplace, either for having a feminine voice or a turban or a peculiar point of view or a unique accent he naturally feels bad. There are of course people who ask him to man up. To pretend that the problem isn’t there. And those colleagues just think that all was in good, innocent fun. They should be told that they are overstepping boundaries. They are the people who should change. Manning up isn’t the answer to anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. My MIL has a problem if husband and me eat from same plate. according to her we are disrespecting her…yes its illogical…but is it trivial? if its trivial why does SHE have a problem with it?

    Like

    • If 80’s (few 90’s) tamil movies are anything to go by, eating from the same plate is the ultimate sign of devotion and romance. It probably started with some women reasoning that it reduced the number of plates they had to wash if every woman ate from the plate her husband did.
      There was even a movie in which this was justified that a woman can understand what dishes her husband most enjoyed eating by doing so. Of course our terrific ancestors ate only if it improved their husband’s happiness (or longevity or both).

      Like

      • Dear Person who came to my blog and wrote “what about a son sharing food from the same plate as his mother – that sticks out like an sore in the eye of many evil wives and DIL (not all though)?”,
        1. I was telling that there is a tamil tradition that this was considered and respectful but romantic and devoted thing that women do to show their love for their husband. Tradion do you understand? To be followed. Religiously. Wait till husband eats. Let him eat the good vegetables. What he doesn’t eat alone wife can eat. All the time taking notes about his majesty’s tastes.

        2. Who is this person who objected to her MIL and husband sharing a plate? Can you tell me about it? I would love to know. But there is a reply button right here. I am sure IHM will not object to you using it?

        Like

    • Eating from the same plate is a problem because it means that you have some kind of bond with him. Speaking from experience, majority of in laws hate to see any kind of romantic bond between son and DIL. You are not allowed to display any signs that would tell them you are a couple. Me and my husband were sitting side by side on a couch looking at a computer screen choosing a hotel for our (him and me) upcoming stay AFTER they left (because his hotel points were expiring). This happened a day after we had returned from a week long vacation with them paid for by us. We got a huge, ‘there is no limit to the disrespect you can show us, can’t believe you are so concerned about your own life as if we don’t exist, sometimes we feel we have made such a huge mistake by coming and staying with you, for you we don’t exist (a mistake that happened every year after we ill- treated them with behaviour such as above). To give you more detail, before the outburst the three of them were sitting on the couch, I was in the kitchen cutting fruit for everyone when my husband said If I don’t come in the next 10 minutes to look at what he was booking, he won’t have time again. Thats when I went and sat beside him (other wise back then when they were around, I never had time to sit beside my husband and do something that concerned just the two of us), start looking at some hotels and all hell broke loose. That behavior was still cited as an example of how we disrespect them 2 years later when we moved in with them.

      Like

      • what leaves baffled is that they expect to live with a son(or want him to live with them) fully knowing he has wife and they are a couple. So why complain about them behaving as a couple? Would they rather we behave formally as acquaintances? What right do they have to dictate how much couple behavior is okay. If they find it disrespectful why don’t they let the couple move out or they move out as the case be. If they really park themselves amidst a couple giving them no privacy and imposing all these sanctions for little things (like holding hands, feeding a spoonful to each other) what do they expect? and why is it disrespectful anyways? aren’t they happy to see their children happy and loving? and yes when it comes to symbols of marriage that according to my MIL is the measure of my love and commitment to my husband. What use are these symbols of marriage anyways if there is no love, affection and healthy communication between the couple? Instead of ignoring these things why not probe what the problem is…the couple who are eating from the same plate or the people who cant bear to see that?

        gk even my mil told me that she was discussing it with a friend that today’s couples are so blatant…they hold hands, go for honeymoon whereas they only traveled with family(read husband’s family) but does that mean they didn’t love each other? ofcourse they did but they didn’t belive in flaunting…(but they sure show off all the symbols of marriage). i told her good for you

        Like

  27. And in my home ,I lie down on a couch with my head in my wife’s lap , with my parent sitting on the opposite couch. my wife stroking my her , me just putting my hands on her knees. Simple joys of being with each other, what fun

    Like

  28. Isn’t the very idea of blogging to reflect on the mundane and the everyday? It is ironical to want something other than that. There is news media to deal with international policy and diplomatic negotiations between the US and the rest of the world. Let us deal with strategic management of our lives on the home front! In other words, let us keep our blogs as relevant to ourselves as possible. It is beautiful to have IHM’s blog to talk about and read about things that usually even the closest of our friends or relatives won’t warn us about, for the fear of instating a negativity bias within us about all the things considered ‘proper’ for women in India. This is a precious space precisely because we talk about the mundane and the everyday.

    Like

  29. Pingback: “She went on and complained to my father in law that this gal cooks non veg at her home.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  30. Sorry for the thread-zombie, but: what ever happened to “the personal is political”? These kinds of minor aggressions, happening constantly without ever having a chance for the person being squashed to speak up or breathe free…that’s really important in someone’s daily life, and should be taken seriously. Not surprised at all that you’ve got some men saying it’s really not so bad, they’re sure it can’t be as bad as you think.

    Someone brave should wear a hidden microphone all day, just to register all the different things said to her by all kinds of people, I think a lot of people not living her life would be surprised at the things she has to hear in a day.

    Like

  31. Pingback: An email: “We dont want our sons to suffer because there will saas bahu drama in the house do we?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  37. Pingback: “About household financial status… his parents have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  38. Pingback: Simple methods, recommended to anybody else, coping with any other kind of abuse, are forbidden to Indian daughters in law. Forbidden by whom? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  39. Pingback: “And on the other hand, we have this section of women who seem content and even happy with the current set-up. This seems akin to a freedom struggle going on here.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  40. Pingback: “Practically, what can an introvert DIL do to communicate that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  43. Pingback: An email from the Accused Guy: ‘I would request all to respond once again after reading the other side of it.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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