” …So what about the girls? Haven’t their parents done a lot for them?”
Sharing an email from ‘A born feminist’.
I hope you will post my letter. I would love to read all the responses that I get from the readers and I think it will help me a lot in making my decisions.
I think I am a born feminist. From the time I was a child I was highly ambitious and demanded equality. I somehow had a natural knack of
observing and analysing inequality between men and women in my surroundings. To my great amazement and frustration this was treated
as something ” normal” by everyone.
I remember seeing when I was 7 or 8, I used to visit my Bua’s (dad’s older sister) place and saw that my bhabhi (cousin’s wife) would finish her job, come home, take a quick shower and help my bua in the kitchen. She then sat down with her kid to help with the homework and stuff like that. I remember her being busy from morning till night. On the other hand, my cousin who had his own business and worked from home most of the time didn’t have to do anything once he was done with his job. He came home and ordered for tea while watching TV. This was considered to be completely normal by everyone.
I think here I got the first taste of my growing feminism when I asked my mother why didn’t my cousin help his wife in the kitchen? Why didn’t she get to rest and watch her favourite shows? What made him special? I was amazed that no one questioned it. I was a little disappointed in my parents for not questioning the inequality. However, I was young and soon forgot all
As I grew older, I noticed a lot of things around me which just didn’t feel right to me. My mum comes from a small town and I remember spending the best times there with my cousins during my summer holidays. I also noticed all my female cousins helping their mums with housework while my male cousins worked in their shops and hung out with their friends. But atleast my male cousins had weekends off. The town was apparently not safe for young women after 8 pm when all the young boys would go out in their bikes in a big group and create a ruckus all over town. This made me mad because I was not allowed to go out because parents did not have control over their 20 something years old boys.
When I was 14 my mum suddenly decided that it was time for me to learn
how to cook and let me tell you it didn’t go down well with me. There were more tears and clanging of pots and pans in the kitchen than actual cooking. If only my mother had said that cooking was a skill that every individual should have rather than something that a girl needs to start learning when she hits puberty in order to prepare her for marriage. I have no regrets not learning and learnt all on my own when I realised I needed to cook for my own survival as a freshman in a new country.
When I was 25 and decided that I was now ready to settle down with a “Nice, Indian boy” one of my criteria was that I didn’t want to live with In-laws.
I am now 28 and let me tell you, all of the men that I have met over these three years have been utterly shocked by me not willing to live with in-laws. I think they consider me self centered and selfish. Here are the reasons why I am justified in not wanting to live with in-laws.
1) I am expected to not live with my parents so how do the boy’s
parents become more special?
2) I have no intentions of living with my parents either after marriage
3) I am ready to give my 100% to my parents and in-laws when they need
me (emotional support, during illness or disability) and I will be more than happy for them to live with us.
4) I want my freedom with my husband. I have no issues with them visiting us whenever they like.
5) I have no expectations from my parents or my in-laws to help me out
in any way.
6) I want to create a lifestyle with my husband where we create the
way we want to eat, sleep, travel, decorate our house, watch TV, raise
our kids, use our money
7) I don’t expect my husband to be better in any way. I want us to work
together, save together, make plans together, cook and clean together.
I am ready to work hard with him. [link]
So how do the above seven points make me selfish in any way? I have met a lot of Indian guys who say their parents have done a lot for them so they can’t leave them now. So what about the girls? Haven’t their parents done a lot for them? Doesn’t it then, make the girl selfish to leave her parents who have done so much for her and live with a new family she
hardly knows just for her own happiness?
I clearly don’t understand the Indian marriage system and the rules of
patriarchy. I find them very archaic and suffocating. Even if my in
laws are uber modern and supercool why should I have to live with
them? Why cant my ubercool in laws just visit my new family with my
husband over the weekend? I wouldn’t want to live with my MIL even if
she was Sonia Gandhi or Hema Malini. Does it make me selfish?