Of Adarsh Bhartiya Purush on the International Women’s Day.

Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, they will never betray them.

I think the biggest control on Indian women (and men) is the restriction on the freedom to choose who they spend their lives with. Many of the other restrictions are based on protecting this one control.

Even the concept of Get Married and Stay Married and Patriarchy, wouldn’t survive for too long without this powerful control.

Below is the conversation I had with someone who has lived all his life in a UP village. The couple put their kids in an English medium school in a small town near their village and he came to work in the NCR.

IHM: In your village, are girls ever killed if they choose who to marry?

Shocked father of an elven year old daughter: Err.. no… but they don’t do such things. These days parents are happy to send them to college also.

IHM: But if a girl does want to marry a man, say out of caste?

Father of an elven year old daughter: Parents should trust their daughters. If they have guided them well, even after being highly educated, they will never betray them. They will not go in the wrong direction…

IHM: You mean by choosing their own partner? Do you think that is wrong? Don’t you think if parents really love their children they would support what makes their children happy? What kind of lives do typical arranged with dowry negotiations marriages offer these girls? The men they are forced to marry, they don’t even respect them… atleast if they choose, they will choose someone who values them.

Father of an elven year old daughter: In villages they fear that if one girl is allowed to choose then others will also become bold and start demanding similar rights.

IHM: But how do you think would it be bad if everybody could choose their own partners? If a woman is clear in her mind and knows that it is her legal right too, to choose her partner, then what options does she have?

If there is a problem in the village, maybe leave her house and family, and move to a city… but that is seen as elopement! Just because they are born in such villages and families it is seen as wrong, so many families in the cities see it as perfectly fine today.

Father of an elven year old daughter: Actually those who don’t support should let them be. That is what they don’t do.

IHM: How do you think would it be, if all the girls could choose? Then those men who disrespect them, will they find partners?

Father of an elven year old daughter: Phir wo apne aap theek ho jayenge.(Then those who don’t respect women will learn to behave)

IHM: Do you know men can change it more easily than women can? Young brothers, fathers…they have so much power!

My dad broke his sister’s engagement in 1959 – she didn’t even think of telling my grandparents, so she wrote to him from her hostel, and he didn’t try to reason with her – the fact that she did not like the fiance was enough. It was her life, right? And no hell broke loose, she married, has two kids and four grand children, she led a good life, she is 72 today. [link – Some Joru Ke Ghulam = JKG ]

Father of an elven year old daughter: Times are changing in our village also… specially when families move to cities, there nobody interferes so much.

I was glad to hear he doesn’t believe that ‘Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation’. [Link.]

IHM: 🙂  Girls who have strong fathers are able to fulfill their aspirations with half the struggle …

I resisted the urge to translate Anna’s mom’s this comment to him. (Will find it link it soon!!) 😛

***

1. And the parents who  support controls have all kind of reasons, here’s an  example (shared by a reader), 

“The Class 10 student told police that her father was trying to fix her marriage by charging Rs.35,000 from the would be in laws.” [Girl goes to police against father]

This news made me think of this court verdict: Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

2. Doesn’t it make more sense to guide and support instead of segregating and moral policing?
And we have the laws in place to ensure this freedom, ‘Marry Or Live With Anyone Of Your Choice – Supreme Court.’

3. Now one more positive. Link shared by Ruchira of Nirjharini.

Can these changes really be stopped? I don’t think so. The elderly in Bhopal and Gujarat are looking for companionship,

–  ‘Live-in’ fair for elderly couple held in Bhopal
Now, senior citizens look for love and live-ins – in Gujarat.

Why I see this as a positive, is because it seems we are finally looking at relationships that are based on companionship.

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Women will be women, even empowerment did not turn them into Bhartiya Nari or Goddesses.

Women’s Empowerment spoiling society: Bangalore HC judge

– Photograph and information shared by Mr G Vishvanath from Bangalore

“Society is being spoilt because of women’s empowerment and ego problems,” an angry judge told the advocate of a woman who accepts alimony from her former husband, but refused him the right to visit their daughter.

Division bench comprising Justice K L Manjunath and Justice K Govindarajulu were hearing an appeal by Binu Vineet seeking visitation rights to see his minor daughter whom he has not seen for seven years and who lives with his former wife, Shiny. [Link]


Three points.

1.  Women are (have always been!!) just as capable of selfishness, adultery, smoking, drinking, driving rashly, murder, exploitation, feeling pain or anger and wanting happiness as everybody else. The problem is that generally women are not seen as people, it’s almost like women were a different species that is kinder, weaker and more emotional. 🙄

Fact: Women are not goddesses or witches, they are human.

2. Acknowledgment that everybody is equal in the eyes of the law is empowering no doubt. But undoing centuries of wrong is not a favor to women and their loved ones, and it benefits the entire society.

It is unrealistic and immature to expect all the women (as if they were one unit) to ‘pay back’ for this ’empowerment’ by proving they ‘deserved’ it.

In a civilized society fair treatment and equality are the rights of all citizens – they don’t have to earn this right. For example, even the most hated Azmal Kasab deserved and is being given a fair trial, it’s a favor to the entire society, so the rest of us know we cannot some day be arrested, declared terrorists and hanged – without a fair trial. Or declared un-manly/un-womanly and stigmatized for just being ourselves.

3. By empowering women we empower men and children too.

For example, in a gender-stereotypes-free-society it would also not be assumed that all men are naturally prone to sexual crimes; (which means we acknowledge that we need to take charge of the small percent who do).

Not expecting people to fit into gender-stereotypes benefits both men and women and the entire society.

Note: Wanted to call this post – ‘Is the pious Bhartiya Nari turning into a Churail because of western ideas of women’s empowerment?’

Men Will Be Men :)

Some Joru Ke Gulam, JKG I am proud of : )
[Edited to add: In India it takes a lot of guts for a man to take a stand against customs that oppress women, it’s worst if he is fighting in support of his wife, or his Joru! All such acts of courage are rewarded by labeling them as JKGs i.e. Joru Ka Gulam. Literal meaning: ‘Slave of Wife’]

My grandfather in 1950s-1960s telling his four educated daughters that financial independence came before marriage.

My Dad at 21 in 1960s, traveling ticket-less to break a sister’s engagement – without letting his dad know, just because she didn’t like the boy and wrote to him from her hostel. (She lived a very happily married life, with my late Uncle. None of the horrible things my grandparents foretold happened to her because of the broken engagement.)

The look on my brother’s face when someone suggested he at least finds out if his unborn baby is a girl or a boy.

Also my brother saying, “… let me discuss with my wife before deciding.”

My husband, brothers in law, Dad, friends, friends’ husbands saying the same thing.

My husband putting his foot down when I attempted to serve him hot hot chapatties, the way my mom had been doing. (I really thought he was going too far).

My husband supporting my stand against the ritual of kanyadan.

A friend’s husband wanted to touch his mom in law’s feet, she jumped away, “Sons in law don’t touch feet in our side, they are poojya.” He touched her feet anyway, saying, “But Sons do? Right?”

My brother in law (Husband’s elder brother) asking a gathering of relatives of all backgrounds, “Anyone for tea, I am making masala chai for myself …?” – on my first day at my in laws place. (I nearly swooned.)

Dad rejecting proposals because NO girls in this family will be married into joint families.

Dad making sure all the married daughters and sisters attended all the functions/parties at their parents’ house. And once when he sensed some resistance, he landed there to pick her. (Of course he picked her, with the nicest smile too … )

All those friends’ husbands who pass tea to us while we are gossiping, just because they were making it for themselves anyway.

My son – well, everything about him, I guess. He has no idea he is in anyway privileged because he is a boy. He is a future JKG for sure!

Some favorite bloggers’ families : )

Some favorite bloggers 🙂

My nephew refusing to accept an Air gun as a gift (he was ten then), he wanted a guitar and didn’t care how unmanly the older generation thought it was.

Son sitting on the kitchen counter, passing me shelled peas, talking about this and that while I give tarka

Son making sandwiches.

Shah Rukh khan ; )

Feel free to add more to the list!

Edited to add: Read more about JKGs here 🙂