Why it isn’t enough to raise independent daughters.

 A Guest Post by AlwaysHappyKya.
There is this story making rounds in the internet and has a very positive message.
Although I agree with what the writer has to say, it got me thinking.
Why did the boy grow up to think so chauvinist in that household? A main character should have been mentioned in the story. The boy’s dad.
Although the boy watched his sister growing equal and independent, maybe he still saw the mom doing all housework while the dad really did nothing at home? Maybe the boy believed women are supposed to cook, dress conservatively based on his dads opinion and his moms image? Maybe, he watched his dad slap his mom sometimes and thought that was okay too?
I believe, as long as BOTH the parents show the kids how to live equally, work as a team in society, the kids ( irrespective of girl or boy) will pick it up and progress.
Just thought these thoughts are worth sharing out there.
AlwaysHappyKya
Related Posts:

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

“My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

Workplace Equality requires Equality at Home

The Men in Our Lives

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

Response to “Koi Baap Apni Beti Ko Kab Jaane Se Rok Paya Hai”

The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.

Feminism Is Good For Society

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

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

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

“The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household”

Emma Watson to men : Gender equality is your issue too.

Advertisements

The Changing Role of Dads

Guest Post by wordssetmefreee

When I was a homemaker (when my kids were little), I was in this playgroup of 5 kids and their parents. 4 of them were moms and there was one dad. It was my first time meeting a full time stay-at-home dad. He was completely capable and handled tantrums, diaper leaks, eating disasters, and slushy mud puddles with ease and a great sense of humor. This was about 10 years ago.

Now I meet stay-at-home dads everywhere – in my neighborhood, at work, at my kids’ school, in my support group. Some of them work from home. Some of them run businesses from home.  Others take care of their little kids and the house full time.

In the last post, Chaiwallah brought up the point about a man being discriminated for being a homemaker. I do not see this discrimination as something separate (men’s suffering versus women’s suffering in patriarchy) but as connected. The more we encourage gentleness and caring in boys, the more nurturing and helpful they will be at home when they become parents. Dads doing their fair share at home supports moms’ empowerment. If men are free of stereotypes, then women are free to make more choices. If men can choose to stay at home more, then women can choose to be more career focused (in families that prefer to have this division of labor). If both parents choose to work outside the home, then both can share the housework and childcare fairly without attaching gender labels to these duties.

Here’s a sampling of some recent ads about dads. Of course, for every one of these ads, there are a 1000 others that show women in traditional roles.  In reality, (if we look at stats worldwide) men have a long way to go in terms of doing their fair share at home. But, look around you. Things are changing, little by little. The fact that businesses want to spend millions of dollars positioning their products around this cultural shift means that the shift is happening. It means we are beginning to lean toward the following notions:

  • gentleness, warmth, and caring don’t make a man any less of a human being
  • the ability to demonstrate emotions makes a human being stronger, not weaker
  • dads are not clueless at home, they can be relied on to do their part at home and keep the family running smoothly, and they can multi-task as well as moms
  • housework, cooking, and cleaning are not “inferior” jobs assigned to “less capable” people (read women), they are simply – jobs that need to get done -and every person (man or woman) has to learn to do them.

Swiffer Ad – dads cleaning the house, watching kids jumping in puddles. Dad complains, “no such thing as deep couch sitting” 🙂

Dove Ad –Dads kissing, hugging, playing with their children. Dads helping kids out of stuck shirts, cleaning them after toilet use, ready to help when they’re stuck on a road, when they’re afraid of water, when they have a bad dream, when they’re distressed.

Tide – Child napping with dad.

Cheerios – A funny ad about a capable, confident dad – it’s called “How to dad” 🙂

Extra gum Origami – Dad is there with daughter through all the stages of growing.

Johnson’s – Dads comfortable conveying their love through touch, caring for their babies, being delighted in them.

And here’s a dad who’s better at cleaning than mom – because cleaning is just like any other skill – it isn’t gender specific – some people are great at it, others not so great 🙂 Some people enjoy it, others don’t.

 

Watching these ads, I am reminded of my childhood. My father would practice volleyball with me to help me win the matches at school. The ball would keep going over the fence and he would quickly scale the fence and get it back in a jiffy. Bonus points for teaching me as well how to scale the fence 🙂 He was also a great cook and could make the best eggplant bhajjis. He would slice them so thinly and dip them in such light batter that they would just melt in the mouth.

Please share if you had fun experiences with your dads at home doing things that break stereotypes. Also, if you have seen other nice dad ads, please share.

Do you agree that things are changing in this regard? Or do you feel they are predominantly the same?  What has been your experience with your father/husband/siblings/friends/coworkers?  If you’re a guy, please add how you feel about all this.  Do you want to change things?  Do you want to be a different kind of dad from your own (assuming your own played a traditional father’s role)?

Related Posts:

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

“My problem is my wife doesn’t like me hanging out with friends.”

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s body and Willow Smith’s hair.

An email from an Indian father: I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone…

Workplace Equality requires Equality at Home

The Men in Our Lives

Why are these dads such a threat to patriarchal social structures?

Dad wears short shorts to teach daughter what she wears is everybody’s business and everybody’s approval proves her great worth.

“My dad tells me not to wear skimpy outfit when he is around”

“I know my dad is short tempered but he was never this aggressive until my relatives started making him over think about my marriage.”

Dad knifes girl for speaking to lover

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

“Freedom can wait, I’m staying put for Dad”

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“My husband says he can’t go against his family. My father says study but not without your FIL’s permission.”

“Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” Please adjust.

Response to “Koi Baap Apni Beti Ko Kab Jaane Se Rok Paya Hai”

Haryana killing : Here is a father A P Singh might want to defend.

“This dad is openly threatening his daughter and is instigating others to burn alive their daughters.”

The father threw the baby on the ground and tried to strangle her with his legs: No case registered.

Father wants the world to know her real name.

Feminism Is Good For Society

Where do they go away?

 

 

Please watch ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’ :)

The movie passes Bechdel Test with flying colours. The Kanpur accent and Kangana Ranaut’s Haryana accent, the music, the story, the way it ends, and everything else about the movie are absolutely delightful.

And while we are laughing hysterically, the movie conveys –

A woman smiling, laughing, talking, taking a ride or drinking or dancing with a man – may or may not be in love with him.

That self reliance gives confidence.

That courage, confidence, maturity and just plain common sense are not dependent on the language ones speaks or the accent or grammar (etc).

That men grow up and old too.

Men have ‘marital status’ too – even if it not talked about in Indian movies, and is not socially required to be displayed.

Men don’t hate getting married – despite all the shaadi ke laddu jokes one hears about. Men even have ‘marriageable age’ – though one doesn’t hear much about such social pressures. The movie makes references to men’s ages, like the ’35 and desperate to get married’ and 40th birthday shirt.

Men are also advised to Get Married and Stay Married. But instead of praying or fasting, men are offered the option of trying violence as an outlet if the situation gets unbearable – like breaking tube lights in their living rooms.

That the Khaps are fools.

It’s a problem that men’s manliness depends on their Sperm Count.

Men gain weight too.

Tanu does many things that generally only men are permitted to do

1. Complains that she finds her spouse boring and demands that she be pleased.

2. Goes out and has fun with old friends although she is married and loves her husband. She also calls her best friend her soulmate.

3. Meets visitors wearing a towel.

4. Drinks.

5. Gets away with being unreasonable. [Disagree?]

Lastly I think Kangana Ranaut is the Amitabh Bhachchan or Madhuri Dixit of today – only better.

Do’t believe me? Take a look 🙂

Many of us are going to watch this movie more than once.

Four other recent movies that passed Bechdel Test. 

Margarita with a straw.

Piku

Dum Laga Ke Haisha

Queen

I am optimistic that the success of these movies means that we will continue to see more such works of art.

Related Posts:

Piku in Patriarchy.

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha – where a man is asked to Please adjust and save his marriage.

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

An email from Pakistan: “There is a feeling among my parents that I don’t want to spend on them.”

Patriarchy‘s control on men is more difficult to identify and fight against because the control permits what many view as privilege, and because patriarchy is largely viewed as favourable to men.

The fact is, Patriarchy permits some men and some women – and only when certain conditions are met, – to control the lives of others – in many big and small ways. 

The way women are raised to see Get Married and Stay Married as their only purpose in life, men are raised to become Providers and Protectors.

This enables further abuse. Becoming Protectors involves being Controllers (egos and honours are a part of that) and being Providers is made possible or easier by keeping the Provided For in dependence. This makes it seem that Patriarchy benefits men – but not having control over their lives is not a privilege.

Please note, sons in patriarchal societies are mainly valued when, 1.)  they are Providers, and 2.) they can provide obedient daughters in laws who provide male heirs. 

An unemployed male child is still valued if he is obedient, or provides an obedient dulhan hi dahej hai, and male heirs. This is also why Patriarchy is homophobic. 

Sharing an email from a young man in Karachi.

Hi IHM,

Subject: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on patriarchy at your IHM blog

I am from Karachi Pakistan and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog especially the posts related to patriarchy. An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

Last night I was really feeling depressed after going through an emotional abuse session from one of my parents. I was confused and was not able to sleep. After reading your blog post, I became aware that this is common in our part of the world as well. I can relate to every world of your blog post with my life. Kudos to you for sharing your thoughts  and reducing the overall anxiety of your audience.
After reading your blog, I have decided to challenge the status quo and start introducing change that could get me out from the constant emotional abuse and allow me to save for my future.

Also, I would appreciate if you can ask your readers to suggest practical and realistic steps that could be taken, especially for saving for the future and for convincing our parents so that they can understand why it is important to save now. Most of the comments shared their set of problems but very few actually discussed some steps that could be taken keeping in view the highly emotional nature of the problem.

I have tried working with fixed budgets for monthly expenses and for savings, but in this case, there is a feeling among my parents that I don’t want to spend on them. I find it very difficult to convince them as to why it is important to save now.

Thanks,
Raheel

Related Posts:

Of girly men who fail to convert irresponsible women from liabilities to assets.

An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

The Men in Our Lives – Priya

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

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

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha – where a man is asked to Please adjust and save his marriage.

When a Dulhan hi dahej hai then men are asked to make their marriage work.

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha.

The movie is a warm, gentle story about a traditional semi forced arranged marriage. A hard working but dependent, thoughtless and a little insecure Gappu (Ayushmann Khurrana), 25, is forced to marry an independent and confident 22 year old Sandhya Verma, who he does not want to marry.

I loved the shades of grey, or rather a drab but beautiful brown of simple practicality in all the characters. Nobody is really a bad guy, and the good guys are real people not superwomen.

And there is humour.

The movie raises, very subtly, some of the issues we discuss on this blog.

Like, the low divorce rate in India, specially when marriages have parental approval. The movie would have been impossible if there was no semi forced marriage and two sets of parents wanting it to work.

Like, how education self reliance confidence lets women choose to marry someone they like and to leave them if they so decide. [is that a spoiler? Find out for yourself!]

After watching countless movies about men falling in love with a woman’s eyes, cheeks and hair – it’s good to hear, in a casual remark – that varjish (exercise) to win love doesn’t make sense, because when we like someone then these things don’t matter.

It was also change to see a woman being assertive, and not being demonised for it, or for not bending backwards to ‘win the love’ of her pati parmeshwar.

It was not unexpected to see Sandhya’s mother warning her not to attempt ‘baraabari’ with her Pati parmeshwar. Baraabari translates to – daring to compare oneself with someone who is understood to be Superior – like a husband or family elders.

It was unexpected to see her ignore it – casually 🙂

Sandhya Verma does not change her name when she gets married to Gappu – Prem Prakash Tiwari. She is not superstitious, a sneeze indicates an allergy to her – not bad luck. Her first goal in life – also shown in the trailer, is not to Get Married and Stay Married. She expects her husband to treat her with respect.

And she makes it clear to her husband that she does not like being told what she can or can’t do. This alone makes me want to watch the movie again 🙂

Sandhya lives is in a society where domestic violence is viewed as normal – her mother and mother in law remember, and remind Sandhya of this. Obedience in children is expected and enforced with violence and insults.

What would have happened if Sandhya was not so confident? Where did her expectation of being treated with dignity come from? Can a woman marry and change an uninterested (in marrying her) man into a responsible, loving husband? [Read what could have happened]

In one scene, she has gone back to her parents’ home and finds her brother has shifted into what used to be her room. She throws out his stuff saying something like, “Four days I was gone, and you took over my room!” Nobody tells her the room (or the house or family, or parents…) ceased to be hers when she went to her ‘own’ home – her sasuraal.  Or that she is paraya dhan. Sandhya’s parents reminded me of Rani’s parents in Queen [Please watch Queen.] – her happiness was not of no consequence to them, no matter how limited their dreams for her happiness.

Dulahn hi dahej hai is a popular anti-dowry campaign slogan – displayed on public transport and scribbled on walls (mainly in UP I think) –  to create awareness. It translates to ‘Bride is Dowry’ – i.e. don’t ask for Dowry, be satisfied with the bride. But one could also view it as – Acquire a bride who can earn, she will then prove to be her own dowry – a life long supply of dowry.

Perhaps since the dulhan is dahej she is treated well by the family – more when they realise she was capable of walking out of the marriage. How does Prem feel about this?

The movie also looks (without any judgment?) at how Patriarchal societies treat men.

Prem Prakash Tiwari is humiliated for his lack of academic qualifications. One could compare the father-son relationship to the more discussed mother in law and daughter in law relationship.

Though there is typical advice for men (never for women) to not marry at all, men in the movie are seen talking about getting married. So, the movie is a change in a sexist society where men ‘joke’ about getting married by comparing it to being chained (etc), ‘shaadi ka laddu jo khaye wo pachtaye jo naa khaye wo bhi pachtaye’ (Translates to: Shaadi is such a laddu that men who eat it regret it and men who don’t eat it also regret it).

And in how many Indian movies have we seen men expressing any sensitive opinion about their relationships? We expect either indifference, or hatred, or a readiness to die for a beautiful woman.

Prem is advised by all – including his peers, to adjust, accept and to make this forced marriage work. And it’s not surprising – remember it’s a forced marriage arranged with parental approval.

Edited to add: Turns out I am not the only one who loved this movie 🙂

Related Posts:

Please watch Queen. Feels like our country is finally changing.

Question about Sexuality in Indian Arranged Marriages

What about girls who are not very academic? Must they be condemned to forced marriages?

Mardaani

When a daughter refuses to go back…

Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Can dowry be compared to inheritance?

 

 

 

 

 

“Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents?

Sharing an email. 

Dear IHM,

I’ve been a regular albeit silent reader of your blog for quite a long time now. I would appreciate it if I could have your views and those of your readers on the following :
Why do many young Indian men say they are interested in dating, but leave the decision of anything on the longer term to their parents? Is “my parents wouldn’t approve” a sort of excuse to pre-empt any kind of long-term relationship?
In this case, if a girl still chooses to date such a man and maybe get into a short-term relationship, does sex remove all chances of a possible future?
How important are age and age difference in a long-term relationship (with the possibility of marriage)? I find that men are willing to date older women, and cite the age difference as an attraction, but they also mention the age gap as being one reason their families would disapprove.
Also, if a couple is compatible (and have worked out their differences, say financial or religious beliefs), then why would any reasonable parent disapprove of the relationship?
I personally don’t believe in an arranged marriage, and my parents are understanding, and I am sure they won’t have any problems so long as they get to meet the man I’m interested in. I have heard of people having to give up someone they are in love with, under family pressure. I do not know if I’m missing something of the larger picture, but how does choosing a partner from the same caste/community assure compatibility and happiness?
I can understand that in case both partners choose to go the arranged marriage route, choosing someone with a similar background would help in finding some common ground, and I also assume both partners get enough time to interact and are not pressurized to say ‘yes’. I find that if I go on a date with someone, the only thing I know at the end of a few hours is whether I want to see that person again. So I can’t understand how one can consent to marry someone after having hardly interacted with them.
I would like to know the views of you and your readers, especially young men.
– A confused young woman trying to understand the complex Indian young man.

27 ways in which Patriarchy harms men.

Sharing this comment by thoughtpower in response to the previous post.

I think patriarchy harms men as well but many people don’t even realize so and are happy with current setup.

I would be eager to know comments from readers of this blog.

Some challenges a man faces:

1. Expected to be breadwinner and cannot choose career of his choice
2. Cannot choose to be home maker
3. Not suitable for marriage unless he finds a job.
4. Cannot watch emotional dramas or display certain emotions
5. Cannot wear ” colorful clothes”
6. Expected to shoulder unfair responsibility as elder son
7. Not accepted if physically weak
8. Looked down upon if they choose certain professions.
9. Expected to do all the work outside home.
10. Unfair labels when he chooses to treat wife as equal partner
11. Unfair expectations to keep pleasing parents
12. Not allowed to be a doting type of father
13. Earn/study more than his partner
14. No say in aesthetics of house decoration
15. Expected to learn driving and drop/pick others even when a female family member is equipped to do that
16. Struggle in reporting sexual harassment
17. Limited career opportunities as male sex workers because female sexuality is repressed.
18. Looked down while expressing dislike for sports/violence/cars
19. High expectations due to male stereotyping on how to win over a girls heart and so called Mardangi.
20. Decision to not have kids gets difficult due to unfair burden of carrying family name
21. Financial success as chief barometer of a man’s success
22. Paternal leave for longer duration looked down upon
23. Cannot marry a woman older than him
24. Patriarchy effects men and women in different ways. Deep rooted belief in some women that patriarchy doesn’t affect men at all.
25 Father of daughter expected to shell out his hard earned money to son in laws or as dowry.
26. For someone really interested in good relationships, being too close to relatives on the spouse side looked down.
27. If only parents were as happy with happily married sons as they are with happily married daughters. Treatment of daughter’s spouse versus treatment of the spouse of the son.

Related Posts:

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

What do men need liberation from?

Emotions, Masculinity and Hierarchies in Relationships: Or making men walk alone in the journey of life.

MIP: Men In Pink

Boys don’t cry. – Starry Eyed

Of girly men who fail to convert irresponsible women from liabilities to assets.

“For every woman who is tired of being a sex object, there is a man who must worry about his potency.”

‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

Of how men’s masculinities are connected to their wives taking their names.

“I couldn’t tell him that I didn’t want any. That’s even worse. We’re supposed to always be on the prowl.”

What kind of sons do Feminists raise?

An email: ‘He made it clear to them he will not marry me without their support. He will not leave them behind… ever.’

“About household financial status… his parents have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons.”

The rapists often don’t see their actions as crimes, the police said, and don’t expect the victims to report them.

Loving husbands who devote their days and nights to maintain peace in the family.

“The sense of entitlement that’s hard-wired into every male child in an Indian household”

An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

Arranged Marriage Market: “Oh! then our son has to take care of you and your wife too”!

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

An email: Is it fair for parents to say that their happiness depends on who their kids marry?

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

Why are these dads such a threat to patriarchal social structures?

‘Angry Mob cut off man’s sensual organ for attempting rape of a girl.’

Emma Watson to men : Gender equality is your issue too.

And maybe it is too funny to even imagine the same thing ever happening to a man?

“About household financial status… his parents have done all that they can, and now have passed the baton to their three sons.”

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

Why I can’t take gender stereotypes seriously.

Hasee toh Phasee : When a Bollywood hero is an Emotional Dhakkan.

I Want To Be A Dad. – Radhika Vaz

Do you think it is natural for boys and girls to use different kinds of toys?

A tag: But when a woman sees a hot man, nothing happens in her brain?

Abhishek Bachchan as a Working Dad in the new Idea ad.

“I don’t claim to be a spokesperson for all the men on this planet, but…”

So why do some women judge other women?

“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.”

Sharing an email by A Confused Male.

It can be confusing unless we have had the opportunity to find out how those who are involved actually feel.

Those who benefit from the system (via obedient elder-care providers, ladke wale status, dowries etc) probably cannot be expected to view it honestly. The few unhappy voices that are heard are accused of washing ‘dirty linen’, being westernised, or of not being sanskaari enough.  

Many more voices are hushed whispers, or silenced. 

Also, the few women who do speak up are able to do that because they have that option – and most still choose anonymity. 

While women face complete control, men in such patriarchal families are not really free either. 

Amongst other things, men may not be free to love or marry someone they like and may not be permitted to choose what they do for living. It’s tougher to fight control, emotional blackmail and abuse, when it comes from those who seem to genuinely care and possibly claim to ‘live to see them happy’. Also, in return of such controls, they are offered benefits which lead to dependence, controlled freedom and a sense of entitlement.

And then there is this censorship of not just what some people are permitted to say, but also what some obedient adults are permitted to hear or read. 

Too many social evils are rooted in the present system, like male child preference, sex selection, dowry, bride burning, ill-treatment of widows, dependence of elderly women (and men) on their male children, semi forced marriages, objectification of women (aggravated by segregation), adults who are not emotionally and economically self reliant etc. 

Dear IHM,

Hope you are doing fine.

Am a regular reader here. Wonderful platform you have created.

Sharing here an observation as well as a few questions for debate by you and your readers. If you find this worthy of your space, kindly share on the blog anonymously.

Thanks.

————-

I have been looking at a population segment in my state (Gujarat) – semi-urban/small town, middle/upper middle class, local college educated, average jobs/business class people with 5-10 lakhs per annum incomes. And following are some observations (Just my observations. No concrete research or statistics to back these):

– Men and women marry young – generally before they turn 26-27, ages where people are still to form strong views on what they want from life and hence often defer to parents’ judgements.
– Men and women are quite prepared for “arranged” marriages. Such marriages are between two families and hence the two set of parents are the key decision makers. If they agree on a match, their children generally agree. There is no feeling of being “forced” into a marriage. Horoscopes match; Cultural, social and financial backgrounds are similar; External aspects – height, weight, complexion, car, house are in order and so compatibility is automatically assumed.
– Marriages seem healthy, the husband-wife seem to get along fine – well set in their respective responsibilities and busy with their children. The physical abuse seems to mostly not exist. Divorces are unheard of.

Further, the way boys and girls are brought up in this segment of population and the kind of things they see around them, the following is readily accepted and neither party sees any big issue with these:
– Wife relocates to husband’s town/city and lives with his family
– Wife changes her surname to that of the husband
– Wife refers to the husband as “aap”
– Wife adopts the customs, preferred deities, cooking style and schedule followed in the husband’s home. MIL takes the “responsibility” of “training” the DIL in these (a younger DIL is preferred as she is “easier to mould”)
– Wife can continue to work only if the husband’s family permits. In any case, she is expected to quit working on attaining motherhood. Till she works, money belongs to the husband and his family. Spending a lot of her own money on her birth family is frowned upon and would need permission from husband
– Husband will be a “mumma’s boy” and will not openly side with wife in case of a conflict. Husband will consult his parents on major decisions / expenses
– Wife is expected to “give” sex to husband when he wants
– Marriage is for life. Unless there is physical abuse or outright pre-marriage lying about medical/financial condition or likes, divorce is unthinkable

Followers of this blog would find most of the above oppressive to women. But these men and women, since a very young age, have seen only such marriages around them that there is nothing unusual for them in this set-up. A woman accepts all of the above knowing well that some other woman is going to marry her brother and accept the same conditions as a DIL in her own home. Likewise, a man who expects the above from his wife has a sister who accepts the same in her husband’s home. How do you expect any different from what’s prevalent in your own home? And so no one seems very bothered and considers this as a normal way marriages are. Essentially, they are perfectly comfortable with the conventional gender roles and the traditional idea of a marriage – a man is responsible for earning, a woman is responsible for children and home and that after marriage a woman’s birth family must assume a secondary place in her life.

So on one hand, we have a section of women who, through their own lives, are waging a spirited battle for truly egalitarian marriages and man-woman equality and are rightly refusing to do things that parents/husband/in-laws/society expects out of them just because “that’s what a woman should be doing” or “that’s our culture”. 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. I guess, to a segment of population in pre-independence India, British rule wasn’t as big an anathema. But to those who believed in principles of freedom and equality and self-determination as well as those who had a greater exposure and had seen better, British had to be ousted at any cost. Likewise, today, for the section of Indian women who have clear thoughts on equal marriages, it is a period of struggle till men and the society at large come around and start sharing their justified worldview.

But I also wonder – is ignorance a bliss? Not knowing better – isn’t that a reason why so many women (and hence men) seem quite happy and satisfied in their marriages? I admit that for some of these women, they do know better but don’t have any other choice due to various reasons (kids, financial dependence, social stigma etc.). But a lot of women I see around me in this segment seem genuinely satisfied with their lives. They were fed a certain image of a marriage right from their early days and they seem to have no heartache when that image turns out to be largely true, even if to another section of women such marriages may seem like patriarchal horror stories.

All of this has led to three questions in my mind and it may be good to hear views of readers of this blog on them:
1) Is the happiness I have observed only superficial? Do the women in such population segments also feel shortchanged in the Indian marriage setup?
2) A marriage with a partner of choice, after a lengthy and healthy period of dating could be wonderful and bring immense happiness. Or it could cause a lot of grief later due to high expectations on both sides. On the other hand, in a traditional family arranged marriage (with similarity of social, cultural and financial backgrounds and predictable expectations) the “happiness quotient” is consistently decent. Any marriage is a gamble eventually and so if we draw a normal gaussian curve of marital happiness, the “choice marriages” are mostly likely to end up on either of the two extreme ends while the traditional ” family arranged” marriages are mostly likely to end up somewhere in the thick middle. Is that a fair assessment? Of course each marriage is dependent on the two individuals involved but I am only considering the impact of two big variables: compatibility (high in choice marriages, generally of a certain minimum level in the family arranged ones due to similar backgrounds and upbringings) and expectations (high in choice marriages, moderate in family arranged ones).
3) I would like to get married but I haven’t “clicked” with someone so far (more than a year since I started looking). With all my expectations from marriage – a friend, a companion, love, compatibility etc. have I set myself up for discontent and disappointment? Would I have been better off if I too had shared the traditional view of marriage – same as that of the majority in the population segment I live in?

– A confused male

Related Posts:

My husband gives me the usual ‘you have not just married me, you have married my family..’ sermon

“I will never live in a joint family, it has its roots in patriarchy and benefits only men.”

An email from a Happily Married Indian Daughter in law…

And, Please watch Queen.

Only when raising ideal daughters in law is not their goal, would Indian parents be able enjoy having and bringing up girl children.

Another email. When an Indian daughter-in-law has no brothers.

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person… aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?

Sharing an email from ‘a “not so young” (by marriageable age standards in my community), below average looking, well-educated male with a well-paying job in a metro city.’ 

“But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person and so little focus on understanding and exploring compatibility, attitudes, values and character, aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire?”

Dear IHM,

I stumbled upon your blog while surfing online in the context of a particular unhappy incident in my life. And since then, I have been hooked – going through posts after posts, and reading all comments therein. It has actually been shocking. I never imagined that even women in the upper echelons of the society – educated, upper middle class, career women were also victims of patriarchy in marriages. And in not even a subtle manner – from being dictated on what not to wear, to restricting their interaction with their families, to controlling their careers and their earnings, to occasional beatings – it was all blatant harassment happening to seemingly modern, educated women (writing emails to IHM in impeccable English itself was an indicator that these weren’t oppressed females from, small towns/villages). Perhaps, it is because I am surrounded by mostly happy marriages (or seemingly happy – who knows what’s the reality?) and hence this blog has been a revelation. And am glad I came across it now – I am not yet married but when (and if) I do, I would now be very conscious about any of my and my family’s behavior which may tantamount to abuse towards the wife.

Reading of all the stories here, I feel sad for the women who are suffering in the marriage system. It must feel pathetic when one realises that such a major decision in life has turned out to be a dud. But my personal experience of trying to get married through the “arranged” route over the last one year has made me feel that a lot of people are approaching marriages in such a manner that disasters may be inevitable.

As a background, I am a “not so young” (by marriageable age standards in my community), below average looking, well-educated male with a well-paying job in a metro city. To me, marriage is perhaps the single biggest decision which will tremendously impact the course my life takes from here on. The way I see it – I do love my parents but they are my past and will most likely not be around for too long now. I would love my kids but in a couple of decades they will grow independent, find their mates and fly away. The spouse is the one person who would be my closest companion, and with whom I will share all small and big things of life, till one of us meets the Creator. It will be the most important relationship of my life. And so, when I started my search, I was looking for compatibility, mutual attraction as well as somewhat of a similarity in interests and a broad agreement on long term goals and expectations from life. I had no other checkbox to be ticked, other than a certain minimum level of education. There was no magic wand to figure these things out and so I thought communication and instincts would be the key. But some of my experiences, with well educated women, have left me flabbergasted. I have summarized a few of them below:

– Prospect 1 (Dental surgeon)
After a day of brief WhatsApping on where we work, who else is in the family, what do we prefer to read, hobbies, general chit chat etc., on the second day I get asked “What car do you drive”. My response “XYZ” (a small car). Lady “But you said in your profile you earn “ABC” lakhs. Why do you drive a small car? You can certainly afford a better car”. I didn’t hear back from her thereafter.

– Prospect 2 (Entrepreneur)
After speaking on phone once and whatsapping for a few days, we meet for a coffee. After a few general conversations about each other’s work, Lady: “Do you drink?”. Me: “Yes. Occasionally”. Lady: “Oops. I wanted a teetotaler as no one in my home drinks but I wanted someone who was non-vegetarian so that I could continue with my non-veg diet. So I don’t think we can take this forward”. (FYI – my community is generally vegetarian and teetotaler. I am a vegetarian but an occasional drinker. She was from my community too. And no, I have no dietary expectations for my future wife – her life, she chooses what to eat.)

– Prospect 3 (Chartered Accountant)
Father: “We came across your profile. Only interesting thing therein was your salary. So is it the correct salary?” Me: “Your daughter is in a similar industry as me. She should know”. Needless to say I wasn’t interested thereafter.

– Prospect 4 (Journalist educated abroad)
Lady: “I am an independent woman. I have led life on my own terms so far. But I will marry the guy my parents choose for me. I owe it to them for all that they have done for me.”

– Prospect 5 (pursuing PhD)
Lady: “My parents don’t want to take this discussion ahead. We visited your place and there was no dining table. And our astrologer tells us that you will have such a high level of “conjugal” needs that it will affect my health adversely.”

Further, invariably, every call from a parent of a girl would, after the initial pleasantries, ask for the time, date and place of birth. I was amused at the deep belief even the educated generation has in the unproven, archaic concept of horoscope.

To be fair, there were a few women who were focused on interaction, communication, knowing long term plans for life and would meet for a coffee, talk and would make a genuine attempt to figure out mutual compatibility. But the majority weren’t like that.

I must note that all of these prospects either contacted me or I contacted them through the matrimony portals. There was no common family/friend reference. And of course, my experiences are from a man’s perspective but I have no reason to doubt that a woman in my position is likely to have similar experiences from guys she may be meeting in such a context.

After a year of such and a few more incidents, it seems to me that to a large section of the population, especially those who are on these online matrimonial portals, marriage is approached as a transaction. There is very little focus on the person and a huge interest in the outwardly parameters – horoscope, salary, car, size of the house, looks, brands worn on the meeting day etc. When a certain set of criteria are met, the deal is sealed. Seeing this coming from highly educated women and their families has been even more disturbing. I do understand the difficulties in evaluating a total stranger as a potential spouse and hence people relying on some “indicators” and that people are generally wary of fakes/liars/impostors when they have come across the person through an online source. But if there is so much of hesitation in spending time to know a person and so little focus on understanding and exploring compatibility, attitudes, values and character, aren’t the marriage hopefuls playing with fire? If at least the educated generation is less reliant on parents to find a match for them, and is more open to an “exploratory” approach rather than a “transactional” approach to marriages, could it be that we would have fewer unhealthy marriages? Could we then have fewer women becoming victims of chauvinism and patriarchy in their husband’s family? Could we then have more equal man-woman relationships? Could we then have fewer young people with regrets?

I, for one, have now chosen to withdraw from this matrimony process and would rather look for love through dating someone interesting. I would rather stay single than marry someone with a hope that love, connect and compatibility would develop later on. This transactional approach to the most important decision of my life isn’t meant for me. I am looking for companionship and a shared life, not a coexistence for the sake of family, kids and society.

Perhaps, this email is out of context for your blog. But I still felt like writing in because if what I experienced is actually a broader trend – if a considerable number of marriages are actually being decided largely on the basis of focus areas such as those I was scrutinized for, then I believe there is a cause for worry.

Thank you.

Anon

Related Posts:

An email: I am 18 year old male from a traditional (read:backward) Indian family.

 Why are Sons treated unfairly and like ATM machines? – Indusladies.com

An email from an Indian Husband… and a Good Indian Son.

An email from a 30 year old Indian man, “Marrying a divorcee and an older woman.”

Physical Disability and Arranged Marriages – an email.

Are these the eight reasons you would give in support of Arranged Marriages?

An email: My principal fear is my wife is not going to be able to love my parents as much as I do.

An email from a 30 year old Indian man, “Marrying a divorcee and an older woman.”

What would you say to this email writer? Should the woman being older or being divorced be the biggest concern here? 

What would your advice be? 

Dear IHM,

After a lot of thinking I decided to write my story to you and seek some advice.
I am 30 year old single guy and I come from a middle class family. My upbringing was fairly tough but manage to get good job and have been supporting my parents since I was 22. My parents have given me good value, education and everything they could get to make my life good. Today whatever I am is because of my parents and I am really thankful to them for all that.
I am a very reserved guy never really had any female cousins or friends and never interacted with any girls in school or college (studied in boys only school). I always thought first I need to get good job, start earning and then think of relationship. Also how do we guys get a chance in this conservative, Indian middle class society? Settling abroad was always my dream and by god’s grace, I did manage to move to US.
While working in my initial job in India when I was 22, I met this girl who became my best friend. She was five years older to me. She was married and looked as though well settled in life.
I later got to know from someone else that she had applied for divorce. We use to catch up on weekends for some classes and she used to tell me that she is just out of divorce and didn’t know what her future was and so on. Without knowing I had developed some sort of affection towards her but obviously the age difference and not knowing where things might end up in our conservative Indian society, I never really told her I liked her.
Just before I moved abroad, we and few of our good friends went on a trip and we caught up with some of her old school friends. One guy in that lot was apparently her ex from school days and was already married with a kid (Lets call him Mr. ex school friend). I noticed that she was very close to him throughout this trip and it actually irritated me although being the type of guy I am, I never showed anything. I don’t know if I was right or not but it looked to me as if this guy was just trying to get close to her. I didn’t say anything because it was NONE of my business.
After that trip, I moved abroad and started a new life. I got to know that she started a relationship/affair with Mr. ex school friend. Apparently he told her that he was not happy with his wife and was going to divorce her (but never really did) and continued relationship with her. I don’t know if it’s true or not, I always felt this guy was taking advantage of her vulnerability because she was just out of divorce and was scared of an unknown future.
Later that year she too moved to NY and asked me if we could share a flat since we knew each other. I agreed because she was my friend. After this we became close again.
Mr. ex school friend use to visit her once or twice a year or she use to go to India and spend time with him. Apparently he got places in a different city in India and he tried to separate from his wife.
I also had been to India couple of times to see some brides as I thought arrange marriage was my fate. Never really had the courage to even propose to a girl in my life. She knew all about this, in fact  she even tried to set me up with few of her friends but never really worked out. I kept rejecting all arranged marriage alliances at home because I always wanted to fall in love and get married to someone I know, although my family is very conservative.
She was forcing Mr. ex school friend for commitment, asking him to divorce his wife but he just kept pushing forward while having all the fun with her. I just couldn’t stand this guy because I knew what he was doing with her was wrong but I really couldn’t tell her anything because it’s her personal life and she had all the rights to live the way she wanted.
Then early last year we had a house party and most of us started discussing our personal lives. I got a little tipsy on that day and all my frustration came out. I told her how much I liked her since the beginning and how this guy was just having fun with her. I also told her I loved her.
After that somehow we fell in love. She was five years older to me. I didn’t think about our future, but just started liking everything about her.
She never hid anything about me from Mr. ex school friend, since day one.
He knew she was sharing the flat with me and he knew we were best friends. When he visited NY next they had a big fight. He told her that he will divorce his wife immediately and wanted to get married to her. She said she wanted a bit of time which he never really liked.
She told me all that love she had for 5 years was lost somehow. He was very gutted when he went back because he probably didn’t get what he wanted when he was here.
After he went back he apparently told her parents about their relationship including every detail of what they did (I hope you understand what I mean) and how she is not willing to accept his marriage offer. He spoke very bad about her character. This is when she decided to break up with him.
He also wrote couple of times to me saying some really cheap thoughts about her like he slept with her and I am with what he already used and left and so on… obviously I was hurt, very badly hurt… After all I am also human  and even I do have feelings.
I knew she had done a mistake by getting involved with Mr. ex school friend, but who doesn’t make mistakes? We are all human beings and we all do mistakes and that’s what makes us what we are today.
Sometimes I do feel am I the reason for all this but I never really planned any of this to happen. Things just happened. We just clicked and fell into this without knowing.
This year we started thinking about future. I know she loves me and I love her too. Early this year when my parents asked me if I liked someone in states as they didn’t mind me getting married to anyone I liked. Then I indirectly told them about this girl. As expected they were very furious and crying and all that. They had seen this girl closely because she use to live close to my house when she was initially married. Then they had also heard about her affair with Mr. ex school friend, from a close relative.
A few close friends who knew us from initial days also started advising, saying things like if she can leave some one for you, she can also leave you after few years, that she was very cunning, an opportunist and so on. Some relatives added fuel to fire, saying, “She has lived with someone, how can you live with her? How would your future be? Will she have kids? What will your kids think about her past? We had shown you so many good looking girls!” And so on. Literally everything.
I was so broken and had gone so weak in my mind that I thought I might as well break up with her and marry someone else just to be out of this trauma. But I didn’t.
I never told her about any of these because I know she will get hurt listening to all this.
Then I started thinking positive this was my first love, my first relationship, I should fight for this. All these thoughts held me. I just didn’t want to go with the flow and be another one in the crowd. So what if she is 5 years older to me, we have this great chemistry going together. She is with me now. I need to accept her the way she is.
I also don’t want to hate my parents because they are good people just that they don’t know what kind of girl she is. All they have is a perception about her from someone else. Also just because they disagree with some of my decision/opinion doesn’t make them bad people and I can’t stop loving them.
Some time I do go very weak and think about how she was with the guy I couldn’t stand and every time I come across any of his gifts to her or his message or an email I just go so weak in my mind. Feel very low and feel like I am going into depression.
May be it’s a guy thing and will take some time to get over.
I do get questions in my mind like will she be pregnant as she is 35 because I love babies. I would love to be a father in future. Also I love girl child and hope for twin girls in future. If she can’t get pregnant doesn’t mean I am going to leave her because I truly love her. I probably have to find other ways like IVF or adoption but just little tensed that’s it.
Now I need to somehow find a way to convince my parents. I was planning not tell her age to them. I will just say we are the same age and they already know she is a divorcee. They are just not accepting her. I probably will involve someone else in the family and try to convince them. I want to get married in our traditional way because that’s something what my parents did and I want to do it too. Not sure if this is all going to be possible in our traditional, conservative and judgemental Indian society but I hope I can do it.
I am travelling to India back again in a months time and I have already started thinking about it and feeling low.
It would take a minute to go against my parents and get married on my own but I want to do it with their blessings. I don’t want them to put their face down in society to say that I ran away and got married to someone. If they don’t agree I probably will end up doing this. I know they will be hurt at the same time I will be hurt as well because end of the day they are my parents and I know for sure she will also be hurt because she will think all this problem is because of her…
Also Mr. ex school friend has threatened that he will never let our marriage happen. He would make pics from his affair public to my family and so on (just goes to show how cheap this guy and what type of mentality he’s got). And guess what, he is going back to his wife now which pissed me off even more. Felt like this guy just had fun with her for a while and went back to where he was. Anyway at least it’s good for his kid and he won’t bother us anymore.
I fumbled across your blog when I was searching for how to convince Indian parents for marrying a divorcee and thought should share my story with you. Also if any of your readers have successful marriage stories of an older women/younger men, that would give me more confidence.
Some tips would help.
Not sure if this is worth publishing but do give it a read and let me know your opinion. And of course if you do publish, would love to hear from your readers.
Related Posts: