The Mother-in-law Question

Mansi, one of the readers here, asked the following question:

“We all know that in almost 100% of the cases:- mother in law and daughter in law clash – why is this?  Please do a post on this.”

Mansi’s question appears as a comment in this post:

https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/relationship-with-mother-in-law-an-email/

I will answer the question the way I see it.  I would welcome others’ thoughts, experiences, and perspectives.

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In a patriarchal system, women take up positions of inferiority.  The girl child, teenager, and the young woman is taught or coerced into the following during the formative years(the opposite traits I’ve listed in parentheses):

  • unquestioning obedience (versus reasoning, questioning, analysis)
  • acceptance of fate or destiny (versus proactive problem solving)
  • a sense of weakness, vulnerability (versus strength, confidence)
  • inferiority (versus a sense of equality)
  • shame in one’s body (versus seeing it in neutral, biological terms)
  • shame in the pursuit of pleasure (versus seeing it as a natural human trait)
  • no personal interests or hobbies or achievements (versus encouraging personal accomplishment)
  • assigned pre-ordained roles (versus having choices)
  • constraints on the smallest things (versus having daily freedoms like going for a walk safely, taking the city bus safely, going to college safely, going to work safely)
  • constraints on life decisions (choosing whom to marry, choosing whether to marry or not, choosing not to stay in an unhappy marriage)
  • permission seeking fit for children (as opposed to adult freedoms – permission to visit parents after marriage, permission to work, to not have kids yet, or to not have kids period)

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Some of the above have changed with times, primarily:

  1. education and careers – girls and women now pursue these – but even here the context remains vastly patriarchal – do they have control over their paycheck – do they know how to spend, save and invest their money – do they have the freedom to work where and when they want in a field they choose, the freedom to travel for a job – do they have the supports needed at home to succeed at work or do they carry the triple burden of work, home, and kids
  2. some of the other factors mentioned above have changed for some families (who raise girls as humans that are allowed human joys and weaknesses, and granted equal rights) but remain true for the vast majority to different degrees.

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So, what happens to girls and young women raised with these traits?  They develop low self esteem.  They have been constantly told of their lack of worth and they begin to believe it.  Not just about themselves but about all women.  Their gender is the dreaded gender, they are the unlucky ones.

The all-pervading misogyny is internalized by women.  Different women react to this in different ways.  They develop coping mechanisms such as –

  • judging other women (partly because they genuinely believe women should be judged, society has given everyone the right to judge this group of human beings, but partly because they see themselves in other women.  “She is a lazy stay at home mom who watches TV all day.” because they’ve heard this comment over and over again and unthinkingly repeat it.  Or, “she is too selfish and not a good mother, look at her, travelling so much” because this is another stereotypical comment that they’ve heard over and over again
  • petty competition – women in a patriarchy must compete for male attention to win a few crumbs of freedom – putting other women down has a concrete advantage
  • becoming a martyr – in a patriarchy, you can either be a Goddess on a pedestal or evil incarnate – ordinary human traits like ambition and pleasure in women become evil – self-sacrifice is considered virtuous.  Some women engage in self-denial and sacrifice to feel rewarded by the families and societies they live in.
  • passing the baton – the teaching of these “feminine” rules and traits strangely falls upon women – victims create more victims in the process – women are taught early on “to be a good example to their daughters”.  Every time a woman doesn’t toe the line, her parents and her upbringing are blamed.  There is an entire cannon of virtue that needs to be passed down the generations – and some women assume this role whole heartedly.

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All of the above come into play in the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law situation.

The mother-in-law belongs to a generation of women that have been denied an education, the right to work, the right to choices.  They have been raised with low self-esteem and their most ardent sacrifices have been barely acknowledged.  They have never enjoyed the companionship and respect of their life partners.  Rather they served their lords and received nothing of worth in return.

The typical difficult mother-in-law is not an evil woman – she is an ordinary woman reacting to the above factors related to her upbringing.  She is coping in her own way, trying to find in her own distorted, sad way – some kind of path to perceived happiness.  All her life she’s been controlled by other men.  So she sees control as the singular thing absent from her life.  She tries to exercise control over the one person who is in the lowest rung of the patriarchal ladder – the daughter-in-law.  She fails to realize that genuine happiness comes from control over one’s own life, not control over another’s.

That said, there are mothers-in-law who understand where the problem truly lies – with the patriarchal set up (and not the “bad” daughter-in-law).  Even if they did not live a life of fairness, the better adjusted women (those who’ve developed a healthier response to a difficult life) may obtain happiness by breaking the cycle and treating the daughter-in-law with fairness.  They may themselves have more freedom in their later years – having developed an awareness of their rights and an assertiveness that comes with age and experience.

The mother-in-law versus daughter-in-law problem is not a women versus women problem – it’s a problem created by patriarchy.  The need for male privilege creates the need for female inferiority.  When inferiority is made systemic right from birth and reinforced right through old age, it breaks the psyche and can have extremely unhealthy emotional consequences resulting in unhealthy coping behaviors.

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Here are 2 posts that may shed further light on this:

https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/the-men-in-our-lives/

https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/a-woman-is-not-a-womans-worst-enemy-patriarchy-is/

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“Practically, what can an introvert DIL do to communicate that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?”

Patriarchy can’t survive without hierarchy and rigid but complex rules that ensure everybody knows their place. So Indian daughters in law in traditional and patriarchal families may not give their opinion but they are expected to be gregarious extroverts in some situations. 

Reading or quietly listening to music, spending time with their own social circle or not wishing to interact with (and seek approval of) the social circle of those who are higher in the family hierarchy is considered disrespectful and non-sanskaari. 

They are expected to be Sanskaari Extroverts who know how to win the approval of the third cousins, friends and acquaintances of those who are higher in the family hierarchy. 

‘Letter from another Indian woman’ asks  how to deal with this and more. 

Dear IHM,

I have been following some of your recent guest posts about dealing with abuse[link] and manipulation [link], as well as the letters that are often published in your blog. I am 28 years old, and I have been married for about 6 months now. From what I have observed around me, and in my relations with my husband’s family, I have a few questions that I would like to use as topics of discussion.

As background, I married my long-term boyfriend, whom I have known for some years. We met while we were at grad school . I have met and interacted with his parents several times before we got married, and during that period, they seemed fairly normal. My mother-in-law has an advanced degree and was a working professional all her life. His parents often lived in different cities, owing to transfers. My husband was primarily raised by his grandmother, and when he was older, was put in a residential school. Whenever I have spoken to my in-laws, they seemed proud and supportive of my education and career. I found these welcome; I was very clear that I wanted to marry someone whose parents I could get along with, and who would not be unreasonable when it came to my personal choices.

We went back abroad after the wedding. I came to India (without my husband) for a vacation this month, and went to spend some time at my in laws’ place. My husband told me to visit them only if I felt like it – I went because I thought I could get to know them better. I stayed for 10 days. However, I realized to my shock that there were sides of my in-laws that I had never anticipated.

Every day, she had at least ten different friends and relatives over, to ‘introduce’ me to them. She made coffee and snacks (I helped as much as I could in a foreign home), and I was expected to serve it to them and receive praise for being such a ‘good daughter-in-law’ (no, I was just being a decent host-helper). My achievements (education-wise and career-wise) were emphatically repeated to every group. The audience oohed and aahed and congratulated my MIL for getting ‘such an accomplished bahu’, while I cringed with embarrassment, yet smiled politely. It felt really uncomfortable to be made into some sort of a trophy. Their conversations were not something I could participate in: they gossiped about their other friends, their sons and DILs that I was sure the minute they left he house, they would gossip about me as well. And then my mother-in-law bade me to touch the feet of all the women who had come home to ‘bless’ me. Some of us don’t believe in falling at people’s feet. When I expressed my inhibitions to my mother-in-law, she said that this was de rigueur in her circles, and besides, it was ‘good manners’ and ‘polite’ to seek people’s blessings. Some of these people were her bosses at work, so I was supposed to ‘make a good impression’.  Her tone made it sound like she thought I was ill-bred.

Secondly, I realized that she has a temper issue. Whenever she is stressed, she shouts at whomever happens to be nearest to her that she considers her inferior. This includes her household help, people who live in her building and her siblings. I noticed that while they say nothing to her face (they mostly grin and shift their weight), they say nasty things about her behind her back.

I was with them for just 10 days, but I had her shout at me for no fault of mine three or four times. The last time, I lost my temper too and said I had done nothing wrong, why was I being shouted at. She replied saying I was ‘disobedient, talking back to her, had no respect for elders, acting like I was smarter than her, trying to one-up her to gain her son’s affections (!)’ accusations that I now know don’t apply to me at all. However, I was very hurt at that time. I have not been able to talk to her normally ever since.

My FIL took me aside and said that this was normal with her, and ‘if I ignore the temper and harsh words, she is a wonderful person’. He also said that she regrets not having spent time with her son when he was little, and now feels bad that he was not able to get leave and come down to be with her.

When I discussed this with my husband, he said he would speak to his mother when she was in a better mood, and that I did not have to be there any more and go back to my parents’ place. He also said that my MIL had been abused verbally and physically by her father when she was young (they could not answer back when shouted at, or they would be beaten). While I feel sorry for her, and understand where the cycle of abuse began, I don’t think it excuses her behavior.

So here are my comments/questions:

1. I am quite introverted by nature, and meeting lots of people for an extended period of time, gossip and small talk tires me out. However, in Indian families, the DIL is supposed to be gregarious, extroverted and quite the life of the party.While I found it difficult to play this role for 10 days, I shuddered to think of DILs who live with their in-laws and have to face an onslaught of people on a daily basis. In fact, I have heard it said in some homes: “your daughter is not outgoing enough, how is she going to adjust with all the people at her in-laws’?” Why this expectation? Further more, signalling that one is introverted and reserved gets her branded as ‘impolite’, ‘haughty’, ‘thinks too much of herself’ etc. Practically, what can an introvert do to communicate that such expectations are too much for her, and that she means no disrespect by wanting her own time?

2. It appears like most families want a woman who can answer questions in a checklist, fit into a mould that they have crafted of an ‘ideal DIL’, not a real woman. I don’t think any real woman can be all that! And I think this expectation is fairly universal – it is the rare parent who is actually open to getting to know a person, as opposed to a checklist. Practically, what can a woman like me do to convince my in-laws to get to know the real me? Is that likely? Is that even a good idea?

3. When I told my close friend about these incidents, and asked for advice to deal with it, I was told that ‘I should have inquired more’ and absolutely verified they were good people before marrying my husband. ‘Now it is too late, why complain now? Just adjust.’ was the refrain. I found it astonishing, but realized it is fairly common. The narrative that if you have a bad husband, or bad in-laws, then it is your fault is too prevalent today.But that’s not really true! Can one ever know a family so intimately without practically living with them for a month?

4. My in-laws are in their 60s, and getting older. While I don’t foresee living with them since we live abroad, if they are sick and ailing, I would want to take care of them. I want to have cordial relations with them if I can. But I am also sure I don’t want to be shouted at repeatedly for no fault of mine. Practically, what can I do to inform them that while I would like to be cordial, I don’t welcome intrusions and certainly not temper tantrums?

5. The very idea of a DIL (or even the son) negotiating boundaries with in-laws is considered rude, impolite and disrespectful. But I don’t think the MIL-DIL relationship is hierarchical. I am just a woman who happened to marry her son. How do we negotiate boundaries without it coming across as disrespectful? What is the best answer when one is accused of disrespect, when all one is doing is negotiating boundaries?

6. I have observed that my MIL inhabits a very hierarchical society. She fawns over her bosses (she practically sat on the floor at her boss-lady’s feet while she had coffee), and expects anyone younger than her to fawn over her. She takes it lying down when her bosses shout at her, apparently, and expects her ‘inferiors’ to not retaliate when she shouts at them. This is symptomatic of a larger social problem.

I don’t consider myself having significant problems. My husband is very fair and understanding, and we get along well. He protects me from having to face intrusive questions (about kids, etc.) from his extended family. I don’t have to live with my in-laws. However, just going by my experiences, I feel like I have experienced a taste of what so many many women in our country go through every day, and how that wears down their confidence and erodes their sense of self. This is practically human rights violation, it shouldn’t have to happen to anybody.

I request you to publish this letter, so that I can hear from your readers.

Thank you!

Related Posts:

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

‘Older people in our society need to learn to have a life of their own. Instead of seeking happiness in their kids’ lives, …’

‘I feel that arranged marriages are for extroverts, and there is no place for us introverts here.’

‘If you don’t mutter under your breath “I hate you” atleast once in your life, I am not doing my job properly.’

Display of respect to those in power, in Indian culture.

“When there are guests I don’t get to talk to them because I am in the kitchen all the time …even wearing a Nighty is considered indecent.”

Are you an Extrovert or an Introvert?

Recognizing Emotional Abuse

Some assertive ways to deal with manipulation.

The Men in Our Lives

“I thought it would indeed be wonderful to live with my in-laws.”

‘And if you are unlucky, you will get an American daughter-in-law.’

A Woman Who Doesn’t Have to Fit In

A Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

Khoobsoorat – Movie Review

(Warning – Spoilers, lots of them)

When my niece recommended I watch this film, I was skeptical. It sounded like a predictable Bollywood romance, replete with beautiful sets, fine costumes and jewelry, one dimensional characters with very little subtlety, and situations that are too easily resolved, usually through the use of lectures and bit of melodrama.

It turned out to be some of the above. But despite these predictable traits, the movie surprised me.

The Protagonist

What I liked about the film is of course the protagonist Mili (Sonam Kapoor). Or rather, I came to like her. Cautiously. Gradually.

Mili is silly, irritating, and clumsy. She puts up her feet on the dashboard, drinks from the wine bottle, and eats messy food with her hands. She takes selfies of herself everywhere. I thought, “And THIS is what they call ‘spontaneous/bubbly’?” I rolled my eyes.

But over the course of the film, Mili emerges as a woman who likes herself and is not excessively concerned whether others approve of her or not.

She is very good at what she does (physiotherapy) and she does it unconventionally and with lots of heart thrown in.

Mili has had 3 breakups so far (shown funnily in a little flashback) and even though she’s just had it with men for a while, she hasn’t had it with life. In fact, she’s enjoying life more than usual, with the complications of a relationship removed.

Mili dares to dream. She isn’t overly awed by Prince Vikram’s wealth or class. At first she’s attracted to him, and then she begins to like him when she sees his human side. As she finds herself becoming closer to him, her only worry is that he is engaged. Never once does she feel he is “unreachable”. It’s as if she’s always seen him as an equal, as another human being. She conveys an easy, natural sense of self-worth here.

Supporting Characters

Another pleasant surprise – there are two other strong female characters in the film – the Maharani, Vikram’s mother, played by Rathna Pathak, and Manju (played by Kirron Kher), Mili’s kick-ass, Punjabi mom. Both characters were portrayed reasonably well. Power does not make the Maharani evil and being middle class does not make Mili’s mom servile.

The Maharani, although strict and rule bound, never raises her voice or gets abusive as befitting her classy background. Her bossiness is restrained, her dismissals aloof, her rebuttals are often polite, and her language is impeccably clean. And there are layers to her. You can understand that she needs to be authoritarian in order to run such a large estate, several businesses, and keep an army of staff running smoothly. You also sense she is protective of the wheelchair-bound Maharaja. She will not let anyone cross the wall he has built around himself. She fears that it could be devastating to him. Gradually, their previous relationship is revealed. How they played polo and tennis together. How the Maharani had love and friendship and playfulness from her husband before one tragic incident brought their lives to a screeching halt. Theirs was (and is) an equal marriage, a rarity among older (or even younger?) Bollywood characters.

As a foil to the Maharani’s character is Manju, Mili’s mom – loud, bull dozer like, and calls a spade a spade. You can tell where Mili gets her guts and a bit of craziness from. Manju often advises her daughter to “go get “em” if she needs to and to “not take any crap from the guy’s family”. That really made me laugh with happiness!:)

And now, coming to the male lead – Prince Vikram played by Fawad Khan. The actor is smoky handsome and sexy (I can see why my niece was so hooked on this movie now:). When I say sexy, I don’t just mean his physical attributes. I think people who are good looking in an empty sort of way are seldom sexy. He has what attractive men and women have – an air of mystery, a certain aloofness, quiet confidence that doesn’t require loudness or aggression, a reluctance to easily reveal himself and yet he does so in vulnerable moments. And when he does reveal himself here and there unintentionally, you like what you see.

When Mili accuses him of not joining the party with the servants because he has to maintain his distance/status, he replies, “Yeah …. something like that.” He doesn’t deny that the class gap exists and he doesn’t have all the answers. And then adds, “or perhaps, they (servants) would prefer it that way (him not joining their fun).”

He is puzzled by Mili’s craziness. He is befuddled by her impulsiveness. He is wary of her inclination to say things without a filter. He is jolted by her tendency to act on whim, without the slightest though to consequences.

But when he watches his mother’s reaction to Mili’s wackiness, he is secretly amused. All of his emotions were subtly conveyed – a raised eyebrow, a shrug, a warning look, a little hesitation, a tensing of the shoulders, a bit of subtle sarcasm, or some delicate rephrasing of an otherwise crass situation.

There is great chemistry between the two characters. In both the kissing/hugging scenes, they are BOTH drawn to each other, the feeling is mutual, and Mili as the woman is a willing partner, and once she is also the initiator.

Vikram finds himself reluctantly but helplessly drawn to Mili, despite his rational understanding of the volcano he’s walking into. Mili, on the other hand, true to her character, courts fire, and gives no thought to the consequences.

Humor

There are several funny moments – some everyday situations, some contrived. When Mili asks people from the royal family to join her skype call with mom, her mother puts on a sweet smile, but once they leave, blasts Mili for doing this to her when “she’s cutting onions and sweating in the kitchen”.

When the kidnappers tell Mili they’re just getting started with their ransom “business” and she’s their first victim, Mili who is now high on something, says, “I get it. I remember being excited too – when I got my first client.”

Mili’s breakups are funny – one is with a clueless guy who has found his soul mate in another clueless girl. Another guy is just someone who couldn’t handle Mili’s feet on his dashboard anymore.

And Vikram’s use of “hum” (we) to refer to himself are greeted by irreverent Mili (and her mom) with a “Who the heck is We?? Hello?? I see only one person here!”

I chuckled when the Maharani (upon being confronted in the middle of the night by Manju) says with lovely poise, “I’m sorry but I need my 8 hours of sleep. Can we discuss these “interesting” theories of yours in the morning?”

Room for Improvement

I thought they could’ve balanced out Mili’s character a bit – she doesn’t ALWAYS have to be smiling or ALWAYS have to drop things – we get it – she’s a fun gal and a tad clumsy. But when Vikram tells her they cannot share a future because they are so different, Mili hardens and softens at the same time. She looks at him both angrily and sadly and says, “I agree.” This is where her character looks more complete, more multi-dimensional. I wish there were a few more of these contemplative moments for Mili.

The confrontation between the moms was unnecessary and Manju’s pettiness and arguing to the bitter end dragged down the last part of the movie a bit.

I also thought the Maharaja’s situation was resolved a bit too simplistically. While I appreciate Mili’s determination to do her job as a therapist and her efforts to bring fun back into his life because she believes it will help him recover, I wish she never explicitly TOLD him he is stuck at the time of the accident, and needs to start living again. I wish she had trusted his capacity for self-direction. And I wish he had taken that first step forward himself, with her support.

The Ending

Loved the ending though! It is the royal family that learns to relax and adapt to Mili’s crazy ways rather than Mili changing herself to fit into the clan’s honored traditions. This is not shown explicitly but implied through the Maharani’s humorous acceptance of Mili and the last credits song.

The movie is based on an older film of the same name starring Rekha. And it does have shades of the Sound of Music. I’m not sure if it passes the Bechdel test but overall, I confess I enjoyed this movie. Charming characters, three strong women, one dashing prince, a hauntingly beautiful palace, and lots of heart make this a warm, pleasant ride. Did you like it? Let me know what you think!

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

Was glad to read this this morning.

I would add Unpaid to the Domestic Help.

Also a domestic help is not required to pay to get the job, her employers don’t control what she eats, wear, watches etc in her own home. She can also refuse a chore and negotiate terms of work without facing social stigma. Basically, the employers do not have patriarchy’s permission to control the lives of the domestic help.

Daughter-in-law be treated as family member, not housemaid: Supreme Court

“A daughter-in-law is to be treated as a member of the family with warmth and affection and not as a stranger with respectable and ignoble indifference. She should not be treated as a house maid. No impression should be given that she can be thrown out of her matrimonial home at any time,” a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

“Respect of a bride in her matrimonial home glorifies the solemnity and sanctity of marriage, reflects the sensitivity of a civilised society …

“But the manner in which sometimes the bride is treated in many a home … creates a feeling of emotional numbness in society,” it said.

The bench said it was a matter of great concern that brides in several cases were being treated with total insensitivity, destroying their desire to live.

“It is a matter of grave concern and shame …

Shared by psharmarao

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An email: “indian daughter in-law is servant?”
‘His family seems a bit traditional type.I googled “how to behave with in laws after marriage in India.’
An email: The last straw was her expecting me to practise 4 day period sit-out thingy.
An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…
An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.
Joint Families and Indian Daughters in law.
Not Perfect Enough for Mr Perfect?
I could not sing after my marriage and I am really sad about it, but women have to ‘adjust’ to see their family happy…
No Gajar Ka Halwa for an Indian Daughter in law?

Man marries son’s wife and a movie called Triyacharitra (1994)

This is what the father in law (Naseeruddin Shah) plans in Triyacharitra (1994), a Hindi movie directed by Basu Chatterjee. The story in the movie seemed to be an example of what was possible (made possible by patriarchy) not something that was happening in real life.

“Wanton woman! She’s tainted. My doors are shut for her, forever.”

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How does a society where the daughters in law are the lowest in the social hierarchy deal with such crimes?

“We must decide this woman’s fate at the soonest.”

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Patriarchy can’t risk losing control over the lives and choices of daughters in law (and future daughters in law), so instead of ensuring that those at risk of abuse have the option of fighting back, seeking justice or just walking out, patriarchal societies ‘solve the problem’ by covering up the provocation, forbidding interactions and silencing potential victims with honor and ghunghat.

“Don’t you dare touch me ever again, I’ll eat you alive!”

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In the movie, Rajeshwari Sachdev plays the young woman whose husband has gone to Kolkata and there is no news of him. Om Puri is a much older married man who (amongst many others) attempts to persuade her parents (with financial benefits for them) to let her ‘marry’ him. Naseeruddin Shah, the father in law and a widower, accuses her parents of not following tradition and brings her to her sasural, with band baja, naach gana and desi liquor. Once home, he tells her it was unlikely that his son would ever come back so she should learn to live with him. 

The movie doesn’t just challenge or question – it leaves the viewer in no doubt about the kind of mindset that created misogynistic gender stereotypes like triyacharitra

The movie can be watched here:

What do you think happened in this case?

Man marries son’s wife

… a 72-year-old widower married his 24-year-old daughter-in-law …

On Saturday, some villagers of Bagada also opposed to their staying in the village and informed police. Cops went to the village and lodged Renuka in a short-stay home at Kendrapada and detained Harihar. “We are investigating the case,” said IIC of Kendrapada Sadar police station T Pradhan.

While Harihar’s wife died five years ago, there is no news about his son Bichitra Mallick after he went to Bangalore to work as a mason four years ago.

2.

Man gets 10 years jail for molesting daughter-in-law.

The victim committed suicide by hanging herself in 2008, within two years of her marriage. In her suicide note, she had accused her father-in-law of sexually abusing her and blamed him for her step, police said. Rawat would molest her in the absence of her husband, who was in Mumbai. A case of abetment of suicide was lodged against him. Rawat sought leniency saying he was a senior citizen but the court turned down his plea and awarded him the maximum punishment of 10 years.

“Girls nowadays won’t wait! As soon as they’re born…  they want a lover.”

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Related Posts:

Triya charitram, Purushasya bhagyam, Devo Na Janati, Kuto Manushya…

She started a fight between two men?

What makes someone find the concept of ghunghat appreciable?

Because of my initial submissiveness, my husband and his family volunteer to take care of my chores, to let me resume my career.

This is a comment by Ananya in response to the discussion on the previous post – “Just earning a degree does not mean she is superior to my mom who does not have a degree and does not work in some software company serving yankee clients.

THE PREVIOUS POST HAS BEEN REMOVED ON REQUEST FROM MR SRAVAN KUMAR (not his real name).

I am aware that Ananya (and many others) genuinely believe what is stated in the previous post, this was her comment.

My response is red.

So far I wrote as a sister in Iaw in a similar situation (to the Brother in law in the last post). I am revealing another side of me – a DIL and a young assistant professor of Chemistry, married to another professor of Chemistry.
I tell you what, this guy has had the guts to take on 4000+ people like you on some public forum, so he cannot be prejudiced,* IMHO. It’s possible he’d have had such bitter experiences with his SIL in his family that someone can write so much publicly.
Somehow, I really admire his courage. And despite the thrashings he has received, I admire him, but somehow, he is a little boyish to say all that in public 🙂 … bravo, little boy 🙂
You see, cleaning baby’s bums by dad is ok if it’s an one time thing, but I can never dump a mother’s role on my husband that too in front of his brother.

(Why not? Why shouldn’t the father care for his own child because an outsider feels it’s not right? In a healthy society, everybody should be able to do what they find fulfilling, so long as they are not hurting anybody. Here the brother in law’s interference might pressurize this happy family to move out to a Nuclear set up.)

And yes, I will not hang up my thalli in the name of modernity, if the family customs demand I do not do it. Doing so is imposing my will on others and hurting an entire family.

(Such restrictions are damaging ‘Indian family values’.DILs are are finding it more peaceful to live in Nuclear Family, even if there is more work and less money, because they seem to prefer peace of mind. Some DILs find they have no choice but to take off the thaali the moment they are out of their (in laws’) homes. Customs are created for us, we are not created for customs. A symbol is of no use unless it is worn out of choice.)

I would rather play by the new rules and EARN the respect rather than DEMAND/BEG for respect.

(What about your respect for them? Don’t they care if YOU respect them or not?  Do they demand or beg you for your respect? Or is your respect not worth having?

Also, if somebody gives you respect only because you do what they want you to do, that is not respect, that’s control.Can you respect someone who threatens to withhold respect unless you do as you are told? )

I am a new DIL and I have a great rapport with my MIL and co., because I was willing to LISTEN and make the necessary changes in the beginning. I showed IN ACTIONS that I respected them. I reap the rewards now.
I Understand and acknowledge the fact that their home is radically different from mine. They are way way wayyyyy too orthodox than my own home. So what? I made it clear that I am learning. When they scold me, I took it as if my parents were chiding me.

(Thousands of women before you have tried this for centuries. Why has obedience and servility not made it easier for women to live with their spouse’s families?

Until recently it was taken for granted that a woman would leave her home and move in with her spouse’s family and then do as she is told, in the name of adjustment. It is not possible to be truly at peace or happy, when you are constantly trying to be what someone else thinks you should be. Indian women today are the most stressed in the world. What’s worst is, these efforts are not appreciated, they are taken for granted as can be seen from this post.

It’s common for in laws to expect a young bride to love them more than her own parents, in return they would respect/care/love her if she does as she is told. Like in this case, many families see not taking dowry a a favor to the SIL.

And yet there are families where women can be like other family members, joke with their in laws, wear whatever they are comfortable wearing, nobody is superior or inferior and everybody’s  personal space is respected.

Many women find that they are  happier if they can live in a Nuclear family, this is sometimes not respected. In the past women had no choice, they were kept in dependence so that they could be forced to stay with the in laws (this BIL suggested the same thing) Now that DILs have a choice, they do move out. What makes the in laws want daughters in law to stay with them when they are not able to accept her ways? Why do you think does this BIL want the SIL to stay with them?

In a family, we are interdependent. There will be no autonomy in a family setup.

Interdependence should not be forced. The general attempt is to keep the DIL in dependence and she is the lowest in the hierarchy. Sometimes if she is not dependent and has the option of walking out, say she has supportive husband or parents or if she has an income of her own, then we see reactions like the BIL’s in this post.

My husband is elder to me, and I respect that. I value my duties as a mother and a wife more than my career.

What if a woman realises that she and her husband can both have fulfilling careers and happy families if they both contribute an support each other? If they become more like partners less like a ward and a guardian?

Because of that smooth and initially submissive relationship, My husband and his family volunteer to take care of my chores, to let me resume my career as an assistant professor.

Why such deviousness to make someone do your share of work? Why won’t you do your chores yourself, or hire help, or request them honestly to help you?

Also consider, what chores are your chores? Making coffee for them is your chore? Washing their clothes is your chore?  Coking for the entire family is your chore? Changing baby’s nappy is your chore alone? Why?

My co-sister who also happens to be in the teaching field does not have their support, as she has not tried to understand their side. I have tried to talk to her, but she does not listen, so I stopped!
This should not be an ego clash.

So she does not receive any support from the family? How does living with the family benefit her? How does it benefit the family?

And a husband is entitled to be my leader (not dictator) and there is nothing wrong in me being the obedient and submissive wife. he respects my views and implements them when they are good.

Do you mean all husbands should be leaders? That is not a very realistic expectation. Many men would like to be life-partners and friends, to be able to enjoy their partner’s company without constantly needing to prove they always know better (as leaders).

In fact, most men who would demand to be leaders would be like this BIL, whiny,  petulant and very immature. Demanding leadership is in itself a sign of insecurity. And what kind of life would an intelligent woman live trying to convince an immature man that he is her ‘leader’? What if she starts earning more than him? Or if she is not afraid of the dark while he is? Or if she drives, negotiates, packs etc more efficiently than he does?

I respect his masculinity and he respects my femininity.

Respecting each other the way you are is a healthier thing to do. Would you disrespect him if he makes excellent coffee? Or if he is afraid of cockroaches, if he shows his emotions, say, is nervous or afraid, or cries when he is upset? Or would be stop respecting you if you can drive a car?

My co-sister does all that this SIL of Shree. Srawan Kumar does and more. now, who is at loss?
She or me? I am happy, I am content, I am respected, I am valued and I am cherished – I have not lost my life. Same family, same MIL, my co-sister does not get all I have. And her husband is a perfect gentleman, like my husband (they were twins). But she treats him much the same way Mr. Srawan Kumar describes.

Are you suggesting she should start wearing her mangal sutra, breastfeeding her baby, changing baby’s diaper, standing up when her father in law passes by – and start treating her husband as her ‘leader’? But why would she do that? Who does that benefit?

There is nothing wrong whatsoever in being quiet initially, learning the ways of a new home – 10 people to change completely for me is unreasonable. They have made subtle accommodations, that’s the best they can do.

I think the only thing they need to do is to consider seriously if they have the maturity and tolerance to live with a new member joining their family, if yes, then they must welcome her and make an effort to get to know her. Her personal habits should never become their business. They must respect the fact that she has agreed chosen to live with them, although she has the choice of living in a nuclear family. It’s unethical, inhuman and criminal to attempt to create circumstances that take that choice away from her. Insecurities do not build healthy relationships.

I do remember, we will be MILs tomorrow!

Wasn’t this post about a Brother in law wanting to be a leader to his wife?

Do you think this video can make Indian parents want to have daughters?

Scribblehappy shared this video about saving the girl child, on her blog. The video is supposed to encourage parents to have (not to kill) daughters.

At an Ultrasound Clinic, the mother in law says, “Bahu I want only a boy.

How does the bahu react? She doesn’t confidently smile and remind her mother in law that sex selection was a crime. Or that unlike their own narrow, oppressive existence women in this same nation, right in their neighbourhood, were living great, independent and happy lives.

Instead she looks like this 😦   A future like this makes the idea of having a daughter attractive?

Her husband places his hand on her shoulder, it’s not clear whether to support her, or to restrain her. (If it’s for support then he needs to do more than that).

Makes it look like it’s pathetic to be a married adult Indian woman. Would this encourage Indian parents not to abort their daughters?

Most Indians believe Getting Married-and-Staying Married is every good Indian girl’s goal. How hopeful about a girl-child’s future would the husband below make parents feel? Please do take a look at his face.

I also wonder how responsible, strong and loving a father would this man be to any child, son or daughter. What is the video trying to show/reinforce?

Such campaigns seem to say it’s okay for a daughter in law to be the lowest in the family hierarchy. This video could make having sons look comparatively attractive. For one, nobody asks sons to produce male heirs.

Those who think daughters in law must handle their relationships with in laws without the husband’s support (or intervention) must remember the power of this hand on her shoulder. Since it’s often the man’s family demanding a male child, men have more power in such situations.  Why not make videos showing men doing more than putting a weak hand on a spouse’s shoulder? This son should have been shown making it clear to his parents that he did not think having a daughter was a bad thing. And not because the daughter would be willing to use her brother’s old books.

What do you think of what they hear their unborn daughter say?

“Ma (echo). Ma (echo) Ma.

Ma god has not yet drawn destiny-lines on my hands. And even before that ( a sob) you have all decided my fate?

Ma let me live. I swear on myself, I will never trouble you. Ma don’t worry about my school fees, I will use my brother’s books and educate myself on my own. And yes, tell Papa, not to worry about my dowry, I will stay with you and be your budhape ka sahara. And if you still feel I will be a burden on you, then you don’t need to spend on this operation, I will myself pray to god (pause) to let my mother see my dead face. (Meri maa mera mara moonh dekhe).

Yes, the last line is disturbing, but is it going to make those who don’t value girl children start valuing them?

So this is the pressure a girl should live with all her life? Be easier to raise, have no expectations from parents? Is it right to make it look like letting a girl be born is a favor she must repay by being a good girl all her life? How confident would such a child grow up to be?

Instead the girl baby could have been shown reminding her parents that if they gave her good education, love and respect; she would grow up to be self confident and self reliant, and they would have no reason to worry about getting her married – the traditional Indian parents’ biggest worry. Click here to see the kind of video that would make most Indian parents see what love, respect, confidence and equal opportunities can do to any child. Why not use such examples? Can you picture Chhavvi being asked to produce a male child? 🙂

But here the mother in law is moved by the reassurances from the unborn grand daughter. She, and not the parents, is shown as the decision maker.

The young woman looks visibly relieved that she has the permission to have this child. This scene would encourage Indian parents to have daughters, and look forward to them having such a life?

The couple doesn’t walk out together. The mother in law leads the grateful and obedient bahu out. The budhape ka sahara looks on, satisfied. Aal iz well.

Does this video make it look like it’s fun to be a young, married female family member in a traditional Indian family? And we still wonder why our rigid Patriarchy makes Indians kill their unborn baby girls.

Such videos can make Indian parents feel guilty about aborting female fetuses, but they don’t make them see daughters as worth having because they reinforce everything that makes it difficult for Indian parents to raise daughters.

Here are two ads that don’t show girl children as a responsibility to be handed over to the rightful owners (with dowry).

Without treating the cause, no problem can be solved. There’s more to having a daughter than saving for her dowry.

Tell me IHM/ your readers where do I stand in all this?

An email from, ‘I know it but I don’t know it‘. 
IHM,

I am regular reader of your blog and love the exchange of opinions and open discussions. I am writing you about a problem I am facing and want to know if there is anybody else in the world who can relate to this. Please help.

I married the man of my choice this April. His job involves a lot of travel and we have shifted base 8 times within 30 days of our marriage. Unfortunately, we are now at a place so different from our earlier cities/small towns that it is taking time to adapt, not to mention the hideous/extreme weather (perspiring at 7 a.m). This place doesn’t even have basic facilities like milk parlour etc. It is a notch better than a village. My Husband fell very sick and was almost hospitalized. With the help of my father, we shifted him back to my hometown for treatment (the doctor here wrongly diagnosed & infection increased). It took him 10 days to recover. Now he’s fit and fine.

Last week, we decided to visit his mother since she could not visit her sick son because she herself is 75yrs. The age gap between MIL and me is 50yrs. The night we landed at his place, she did not even look at me let alone speak to me. My instinct told me something was wrong but I left it at that. The next morning, all the pent up helplessness and anger in my MIL came out in waves and she uttered words I am unable to forget. I had gone home “alone within 15 days of my marriage” regd certain bank formalities and had to stay back for 3 days. This did not go down well with MIL and therefore she very easily blamed me for her son’s ill health. She told me that I had ran away from that place leaving her poor son at the mercy of street food and unboiled water. She told me I was causing disrespect to her late husband by not wearing bindi and bangles at home. Every human on earth would wonder “why my MIL had chosen such a DIL“, it seems. As if I had begged her to get her son married to me.

She lectured me about how husbands have to be taken care of like flowers and how she had sacrificed her life for her husband. She very conveniently forgot who had nursed her precious son back to good health. She is unable to understand why her son cleans used plates, brings water for me, makes tea and enjoys if I join him for a game of cricket with his guy friends. She has already concluded that I am punishing her darling son with “household work”.

Her darling son in all this drama is politely but firmly telling his mother that whatever she’s speaking is hurting him. He’s telling her that it is impossible to expect so much from a new family member without giving neither time nor breathing space. His mother thinks I have brainwashed her precious son to utter such words. It angers her when he speaks. She takes out that anger on me. I tried reasoning with her but she just doesn’t even make the effort of lending me a hearing ear! She either folds her hands and begs me to stop or continuously prays at the million God photos to be by her side! She calls me arrogant because I wanted an open discussion. Infact, I was willing to give this relationship a chance, if atleast that could create a path for conversation.

They are religious and I am an Atheist. I married knowing fully well my position and discussing this topic to death with my husband. Sometimes, I am unable to believe that such an MIL could bring up such a gentleman. My husband is their adopted son and only son. I understand her loneliness, her age, the way she was brought up, her past with her husband…everything. I am doing everything on my behalf to atleast have a decent conversation (including wearing bindi/bangles/salwar kameez– if this can atleast be a conversation starter). I was brought up very liberally and wearing shorts at home was no biggie! But the first time I went to her home, I made the “mistake” of wearing pyjamas and that has etched itself in her mind.

She is unable to go beyond my physical appearance. This is causing a lot of bitterness between us. I think one sided effort is a waste of time. Abusing me for who I am is in itself a mistake. Expecting me to listen to her tantrums and sit by my husband’s feet all day is torture! What amuses me is when her own son is asking her to stop and calm down, it seems to anger her!

I am dreading my future with her and their annual family get-togethers twice each year. Fortunately, we are staying apart and that will keep me sane. But I have a feeling that there is every chance of her insulting me and my appearance in public. Please keep in mind my MIL is 75 yrs of age, orthodox, has an adopted only son, is a widow and brainwashed to the core. She lives for people’s praises. She wants the whole world to know that she’s not at fault for anything. I have already warned my husband of my fears and he says he’ll stand by my side. But imagine, 25 elders & their power over 2 youngsters like us!

Before we left for our new home, we “fell to her feet for blessings” (this ritual is compulsory in their family. The elders even ask youngsters to fall to their feet if we forget!!!). As I got up and looked at her, she had eyes only for her son and palms only on his head. Hubby was oblivious to all this!

I am fed up of being blamed for things that run only in her head…things that have never happened. The final straw was her wishing aloud to her son that she wanted to commit suicide because she’s unable to cope with the “change”!!!!!!!!

( What change I am asking you?!?! It is me who is forced to change!)

The thought of her Wanting to commit suicide has her son distraught. He cried uncontrollably unable to understand what brought this on!

Tell me IHM/ your readers where do I stand in all this?

Thanks in advance

I know it but I don’t know it- Plz Help!

Sasural Simar ka. Don’t we all wonder about our future?

Now you can’t watch the news without being reminded to blog, I saw this promo on CNN IBN this morning. 🙄

Don’t we all wonder about our future? What do you think of this ‘Sasural Simar Ka‘ promo?

And what did you think when you thought of your future as a young adult? Did you wonder if you could do more than just wish your family takes all the right decisions to ensure a happy future for you?

How romantic or thrilling is it to have no idea but all one’s hopes set on how the person one is going to spend one’s life with, might turn out to be? What do you think of the what-ifs and the expectations and the fears, and hopes in this promo?

Let me translate what Simar’s sister is saying.

Every girl wonders how her ‘sasural’ (her in-laws’s home) would be. 

You also must have wondered, no, what kind of mother-in-law you will get?

Will you be given love there, like you are given in your parent’s home (maika)…

Will the house be big or small?

And your pati-parmeshwar (Lord and Master)! Will he be the way he looks? 

My sister Simar is being married off 🙂  How’s her ‘sasural’ going to be? What do you think?

So why do some men compare and compete with other men?

I feel Patriarchy puts women in situations where they feel they are competitors. And then this comparison might become a habit 😦

It’s not easy for most people to support or encourage a rival, how would you feel in this mother’s place? The daughter in law is also given a standard to work for.  🙄

If married men lived with their in laws as a rule, how would the relationship between a man and his father in law have been?

When men and women, or two men, are in competition with each other, the feeling is not too different. From sexual harassment, slut-shaming, spreading false stories about (perceived or real) rivals, men and women seem to try everything to put rivals down.

Jealousies and one-upmanship are sometimes seen as machismo. Watch ‘Hayward 5000’ ads on You Tube for examples.

If men are judged by something they have no control over, one can expect reactions like this… Women might react with similar jealousy.

And why don’t all women value female-friendships, which often provide sensitive, solid, reliable, support systems for them?

Traditionally women were encouraged to see their home and family as their world.

Friendships outside of the family were (and are still) seen as a frivolous waste of time (for women). Even today marriage can end women’s friendships.

The only women they could interact with were those who might see them as rivals for the attention of the more powerful family members (often male).

Female bonding, where a woman can choose who she bonds with, is a new, amazing and empowering concept.

‘Sex and the City’ and ‘Ladies’ Special’ (on Sony TV) are  examples of female-bonding.

I wish I could find some videos – advertisements, songs or trailers on women-bonding. Please do share if you find any.