Would Indra Nooyi like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother has been to her?

Professional success and financial self reliance does not automatically create an understanding of gender injustice (or any injustice) and the role that plays in perpetuating misogyny (or any prejudice).

What made Indra K. Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo share how her mother treated her sister and her? Why did she want the world to know about this? What was she trying to convey? Is she proud of her mother… ?

Would she like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother was to her?

Whether or not she wants to, in some ways, it seems, she might. Instead of explaining why she (and her husband) couldn’t attend the Class Coffee in their daughter’s school, she asked the school the names of other mothers who missed the meetings and told the daughter,

“ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”

This is what guilt can do to parents, and this is why the dad didn’t need to be so illogical and so on the defensive.

What if the child understood that being a loving mother did not mean giving up something that made her happy? Why are working dads (generally) spared this guilt?

Nooyi said they were two sisters and they a have a much younger brother. Their mother was smart but couldn’t afford higher education and lived vicariously through her daughters. Their mother ‘put them through the paces of these aspirational jobs’, like she made them prepare presidential or prime ministerial speeches – (where she would decide who she would vote for), but she also threatened them with arranged marriages at 18 years of age.

Indra K. Nooyi says the sisters actually feared that this could happen. She did not believe she had a say in this? But isn’t this true for so many Indian women today? (of course it is, or else it wouldn’t be so easy for this minister in the previous post to ‘promise’ ‘wives’ to men in Haryana)

But, did Indra Nooyi see this as wrong? Does she come across as justifying this? Would she like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother was to her?

How common in India are mothers who know their place and would like the daughters to know their place too – somewhere at the bottom of the family-hierarchy, with few rights and freedoms and with predefined duties?

I wonder if she ever – politely and respectfully, asked her mother what she thought would make her daughters happy. Was she brought up to ask questions and to seek honest answers? Does she sound like she is proud of the challenges she lives with? Does she seem to want to change the situation – or does she seem to be fine with it – maybe even justifying it (maybe, when she says she is sure her mother is proud of her but in their community they don’t believe in showing they are proud)?

Should she be burdened with the task of being a role model for Indian women, doesn’t that add further to the guilt?

Indra Nooyi explains that the men in the family put their foot down and did not allow the mother to arrange their marriages when they were 18. Why did the men know more about the changing times? Was it more about knowing that the girls could get away with not being married off at 18, or maybe even that careers could improve their marriage prospects – or was it about letting the daughters choose their own futures?

Also, if they were really liberal why didn’t the mother get similar opportunities and encouragement?

How would it have been if her mother was supportive, positive, not-misogynistic? And what if her husband was a little more involved – he did not know that there was no milk…. ?

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/why-pepsico-ceo-indra-k-nooyi-cant-have-it-all/373750/

Link shared by Madhavi with this question:

I am wondering how many working men, or all those intellectual male CEOs  need to choose between being a husband or a father and their work every day.

Related Posts:
Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

Do Indian women see socially reinforced gender inequality as a problem in the first place?

“Please help! How do I prove to my guy friends that women are equal to men? “

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…?

Were Indian Women Better Off As Homemakers?

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

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

Guest Post by SK

I found Indra Nooyi’s recent interview disappointing,to say the least. Here’s the link  – Why PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi Can’t Have It All

Nooyi’s conversation with her mother:

“I had great news for you. I’ve just been told that I’m going to be president on the Board of Directors. And all that you want me to do is go out and get the milk, what kind of a mom are you?” And she said to me, “let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place. So leave that damned crown in the garage. And don’t bring it into the house. You know I’ve never seen that crown.”

My comment: Agreed. But shouldn’t Nooyi’s husband too held to the same standard. He may be a CEO or have some other successful career, but when he comes home, shouldn’t he be a husband, father, son, son-in-law first? This is so so sad. Her daughter accomplished a great deal against great odds. The mother does not acknowledge this. She responds by insisting her daughter adhere strictly to gender stereotypes. She demands her to be a “mother and daughter first” while Nooyi’s husband doesn’t have to be a “father and son first”.

Nooyi on raising her daughters:

“And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions. And you have to co-opt a lot of people to help you. We co-opted our families to help us. We plan our lives meticulously so we can be decent parents. But if you ask our daughters, I’m not sure they will say that I’ve been a good mom. I’m not sure.”

My comment: Agreed, when we have children, it is our duty to be good parents,involved parents. And when we haven’t been as involved as we like, then the blame and guilt rests with both parents. Again why is the guilt only hers? He attends an important meeting and misses the kids’ performance, that’s understandable, but not when she does it? Actually if her husband shared in the parenting duties, they both would have nothing to feel guilty about. When something urgent comes up at work and one of us can’t keep up an appointment at school, my husband and I covered for each other numerous times. We always made sure one of us is there for the kids at a performance, and preferably both. It is possible for both parents to work and be involved with their kids – but only if both parents pitch in for parenting.

Nooyi on Parent Teacher Coffee meetings:

“Every Wednesday morning they had class coffee with the mothers. Class coffee for a working woman—how is it going to work? How am I going to take off 9 o’clock on Wednesday mornings? So I missed most class coffees. My daughter would come home and she would list off all the mothers that were there and say, “You were not there, mom.”

My comment: This is so outdated! They call these Parent Teacher coffee mornings. Either father or mother or another caregiver (grandma/grandpa) can go. My husband and I have taken turns attending these since my son was in pre-K. Now my
older one is 15, that’s 12 years of meetings, at least 4 per year, times 2 for both kids.
There are lots of dads at these meetings. Whichever parent is available will make it. We also had some families with gay parents. What are you going to say to them?

Sorry this is for moms only. You are a guy so you can’t attend? What planet is Nooyi living on? She’s the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in 2014 but living in the middle ages?

Nooyi calls herself “bad mother” to her daughter:

“The first few times I would die with guilt. But I developed coping mechanisms.

I called the school and I said, “give me a list of mothers that are not there.” So when she came home in the evening she said, “You were not there, you were not there.”And I said, “ah ha, Mrs. Redd wasn’t there, Mrs. So and So wasn’t there. So I’m not the only bad mother.”

My comment: Again, where’s dad? Is he even in the picture? Oh wait! He’s busy attending an important meeting, so yes we fully understand why he can’t make the coffee morning. So Nooyi is a ‘bad mother’ but he’s not a ‘bad father’? So this
is what a woman who could be a fantastic role model to young girls teaches her daughter? That not being able to make a Coffee morning makes her a ‘bad mother’?

I’ve always admired Indra Nooyi for her business skills and her leadership and how she got there despite the odds against her. Perhaps, this is why I found her responses so disheartening. If educated, highly successful women uphold such regressive ideas, what hope is there for those less privileged?

Why do we never talk about sisterhood, about women defending one another and supporting each other?

A Guest Post by A.

Hey IHM,

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend today. Both of us are first generation immigrant daughters brought up largely in Canada. She was born here, but I was born in India, but there is not much difference between our experiences. We were talking about our commute today when my friend brought up an interesting incident, wherein another girl (of the same cultural background as us) had been glaring at her the entire train ride. When I asked why, my friend replied, “I guess it was because of the skirt I was wearing. It wasn’t particularly racy, but the glaring was very very hateful.”

Both of us are well aware of how life works. We know that even though we dress largely for our own pleasure, and not for the eyes and acceptance of others, this won’t stop other people (usually men) from staring at us. However, neither of us had ever really given much thought to what to do when it’s not a male who is staring at us lewdly, but another woman who is passing judgement on us from her own pedestal.

Me being me, I immediately became irritated. It irks me when other women do this. I could understand if it had been an older woman giving her a look, because cultural norms change across generations and that’s understandable, even if I personally do not condone it. But another girl, who from the looks of it, was close to our age?

Women are taught, across many platforms, that we are each others competitors for some unknown race for respect. That we should hate and judge one another, because doing so means that one of us is in the “right” and “respectable” and the other is not. Women are taught that there are lines of respectability drawn that differentiate who is worthy of respect and who is not, and that the women who violate these lines (most often by doing and dressing as they please) are open targets for derision and hate. This type of attitude, obviously, is extremely divisive and is an extension of patriarchy. It alienates women from each other, women who otherwise should share a common bond, because aren’t we all in this together? Why do we never talk about sisterhood, about women protecting one another, about women defending one another and supporting each other in our different struggles, even as we sometimes do not agree or would never do the things that they do, because we are all people and all our individual choices deserve respect. The world already teaches us that we should not assert our choices and be subject to the desires of what others (usually men) want for us. Let’s not have women enforcing this attitude as well for the strange mythical prize that is “respectability”.

Thoughts?

PS: Also, it should be important to stress that even as patriarchy has largely ingrained in women that we are each other’s competitors and should be “bitchy” to one another, this doesn’t absolve men from the responsibility they have in fostering this type of attitude in women as well. I’m saying this because many men seem to think it’s okay for them to be awful to women because “you do it to each other anyway so focus on that first”. No. Just no. I don’t know where to start with taking apart that argument quite frankly. Have you ever had moments where someone has said something, and you simply can’t form an argument in response, not because there isn’t one, but because of how much of an education it would be for them?

Related Posts:

How can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.

Men do not compete with men the way women do?

When married Indian women strive to look unmarried.

“I put my blood and raised my sons. Now the daughters in law are enjoying the fruit.. “

Sharing an email.
 
Doesn’t the frequency of these emails indicate how common this abuse is? How does one deal with this (and other such) interference from someone who is a part of the family without allowing bitterness and resentment to become a part of her thinking?
 
 
How likely is that eventually the victim might become equally manipulative after wasting days, months and years surviving the obvious but socially permitted intrusion into their personal space, in the name of well meant (though clearly unwelcome and unasked for and hence not really better) elderly advice, instruction and superior-guidance?
 
 
If boundaries are to be made more visible – and some ‘distance’ maintained, where does one begin without being ‘disrespectful’ or ungrateful or without cutting all ties with those who are being abusive/intrusive?
 
Why has this become such a part of our culture? Is it really because women are made to see their homes as their world and discouraged from having any interests of their own? 
 
Here’s an email I received this morning. 
 
My Mother in law finds faults with everything I cook
 
Dear IHM Readers,
 
I know what I am gonna write now is a very minor issue, or at least that’s, how I took it till now and ignored.. But I lost my patience now… let me tell you my story…
 
I got married 8 months ago and started family in The US. Ours is a love marriage and we were classmates in a boarding school.
My borther in law (my husbands elder brother) and his wife also live in the same city where we live. They recently bought a house here, so my husband and him wanted to have their parents here for the house warming ceremony. But, his father refused to come saying that he gets bored and he has to look after his mom who is very old. But my mother in law was ready to come. So these guys applied for her visa and booked her tickets. I was happy that she was coming coz we all know how lonely it gets living in a foreign country… But, my happiness did not last long. Ever since her tickets got booked she started saying, “there you go your mother in law is coming, be prepared to get dominated”…. at first I thought she was kidding, but for every 3 days whenever we call her she repeated the same sentence… i got pissed but ignored since im not a person who worries that much.. Finally the day came and she arrived, first thing in the airport, again same sentence… She repeated the same sentence every hour for 3 days. Always she says Im your “mother in law” as if its a great qualification. Then again she hates whatever I cook.. I had never cooked before wedding but Im doing fairly well since we started home.. I have been browsing for recipes and cooking… In fact my husband loves my cooking. But my mother in law finds faults in everything including rice and idli!! I dont understand how can someone cook rice differently?? Also, she cooks very unhealthy food, she puts so much oil and masalas in her food, yet, the other day she said the curry which i made was very spicy and asked my husband not to eat, it seems such spicy food causes the disease ‘piles’. I am a food technologist. I did my masters in Australia in Food Science and Technology and she says I cook unhealthy…
My rotis are not that circular but they are round enough, she comments about it. I just started cooking yaar!! how can she expect that round rotis from me?
Not just food, she always says, I put my blood and raised my sons now the daughter in laws are enjoying the fruit.. She always says, we are enjoying the American life while she was rotting in India. But, for me the feeling is reverse, India is luxury, here it is so difficult doing chores all by ourselves. Yet she thinks we are enjoying and she is suffering. She scolds my husband whenever he praises me for anything. she says husband or in laws should never appreciate the girl!! what logic is that? Why is it like this in our country, like girl’s parents should respect the guy but guy’s parents should constantly taunt the girl? who gave that right to them?? She asked me whether I know before how the life in US is and is that why I married her son? For God’s sake my husband was a student when we fell in love and decided to get married, next I already went on my own to a foreign country and lived and left my job got married and followed her son to The states. She doesn’t bother about that.. she just sees me like a normal bahu and she is the serial types saas. She never offers to help while I am cooking or doing something… one day I was folding the washed clothes in which her sarees are also there.. She did not offer help and off course I did not even expect but there were her inners in those clothes which were so damn ugly, I guess she bought them even before I was born, I was folding them in front of her she just observed but did not take them from me and folded those herself.
 
 It’s been only 2 weeks since she came and already she made life hell for me and my co sister. Can’t imagine how girls are doing in joint families. I’m just being quiet trying not to argue coz I seriously don’t want to upset my husband. He is so sweet, whenever his mother behaves like that he tells me sorry at night. So, I just dont want to upset him more by arguing with his mother. She will be here for 2 more months.. Im praying God to save me! 😦
 
Anonymous.
 
Related Posts:
 

“It was very cruel whatever they did with my didi. Even the ladies were abusing her.”

How many widows do you know of who dress in colorful clothes and attend family/religious functions  – As Equals?

I met an elderly widow who wears lipstick (but not red or pink lipstick) and sarees in pretty colors (but no shades of auspicious red). She lost her husband at the age of 58. She says times were changing but she knew her limits. So, although she attends (and is invited to) weddings and functions, she does not attempt to perform certain rituals because she didn’t want someone to check her, she said many rituals are performed only by suhaagan women (i.e. married Indian women whose husbands are alive).

Sharing an email and wondering at the limitless power of Tradition and Custom, which seem to have the same hold over many of us that manipulative abusers have over their victims.

The victims are so busy trying to prove they did not wash their hair on a Thursday/Friday/Anyday that they never question how their hair-wash-day could have caused another person’s pickle to spoil/child to be ill/husband to die.

Often, the ones who can ‘see’ the abuse, and those who can bring changes, are the young. But young adults in India are held firmly ‘in control’ in the name of family values and respect for elders.

What kind of culture and ‘family values’ allow this? If it is painful for someone to watch it happen, how does it affect the person going through it?


Hi IHM,

A few months back, my brother in law (sister’s husband) expired in a car accident when he was coming from Mumbai. He was just 28 and didi (older sister) 24. Then his funeral function was held at his hometown which is a very remote village. It was very cruel function whatever they did with my didi (elder sister). So horrible and her age was just 24.  Newly married just 8 months ago.  She cried a lot.
And interestingly, both BIL & sis are very much educated.
They washed his body and prepared it for funeral with a white cloth on his body. While this was going on, all the ladies (including her sister in law, my brother’s wife, jiju’s brother’s wife who were nearly at the same age as my didi) made my didi dress in bridal wear, just as she was on her wedding day. And then after preparing jiju‘s body, they brought didi near his body and ‘made her a widow’ by removing mangalsutra, smashing her bangles & wiping her sindoor. She was also given a white saree by our maternal uncle to wear immediately. After coming in a white saree, she had hardly cried on her husband’s body for ten minutes, they picked him for funeral.  They, even, didn’t allow her to attend the function.
At last I want to say when this will stop. Even my mother was with those ladies to make her widow. Some jiju’s side ladies were abusing her for killing jiju at such a young age.
Regards,
Shalini
And in response to my comment:
she still using faint colored plain saree… but the funeral function of jiju was horrible. Even ladies were abusing her.
Related Posts:

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

Men (and women) in patriarchal societies are raised to believe it is natural, required, honorable, empowering, manly and but-expected for men to want to compete with other men and women, in a continuous effort to prove their ‘manliness’ (Just like women in patriarchal societies are expected to compete with each other for their attractiveness to men and their capacity to sacrifice for men) Almost everything they do is under scrutiny.

Not fitting into these molds can have repercussions. For men, taunts of being girly or being a Joru Ka Gulaam are used to ensure compliance.

One of the things required of the ‘real man’ is to expect and to ensure that the woman he marries takes his name (first name, last name, caste name, family name, village name).

Here’s how one man dealt with this.

Why I Changed My Last Name When I Got Married–Even Though I Have A Penis

It was common for Europeans to have one name 1,000 years ago. I’m Jonathan. Full stop. But last names grew to symbolize relationships with society over time. They stemmed from clans and class and titles and towns. If you met someone called Goldsmith, that person probably smithed gold.

But a problem appeared: Servants, slaves, children, and women were a white man’s property, so they fell under his family name. Now, generations later, a black woman somewhere in Alabama goes by the last name Chadwick after her great-great-grandfather’s slave-owner’s grandfather’s hometown in England.

Chadwick, by the way, means “Chad’s dairy farm” in Old English.

My parents hyphenated their names in the 1970s, for example. My mom was Camery, and my dad was Hoggatt, and I was born a Camery-Hoggatt.

Upside: Both families are represented equally.

Downside: This only works for one generation.

I married Rebecca Jones. If we hyphenated, we would have become the Jones-Camery-Hoggatts, and if our kids and grandkids hyphenate, they’ll have last names like Tutu-Smithersby-Rodrigues-Jones-Camery-Hoggatt, and that just seems irresponsible.

So we picked a new last name.

We wanted one that’s easy to pronounce and that fits well with our first names. Simple. That’s why, on our wedding day, we both took the last name Jackson.

….

One woman tried to insult me by saying that I must have a small penis. This struck me as odd for three reasons: First, I hadn’t considered correlating penis size with resistance to social norms. Second, each body is unique. I will never be insulted by comparisons to anyone’s body type. Third, my penis is probably bigger than hers. Sadly, sexism comes in all shapes and sizes. But her reaction wasn’t surprising.

Our society needs an overhaul, and this last name choice won’t make a huge difference by itself. We know that. It’s quiet. It’s subtle. But it still undermines small power asymmetries. In that sense, our last name has the potential to stand for something much, much bigger:

It symbolizes our relationship with society itself.

Please watch this Havells fans ad- Hawa Badlegi – Registrar’s Office. [Link shared by Anita Rao]

Hawa badlegi roughly translates to the winds (or the times) are changing.

And here’s one of the prize winning entries in the Joru Ka Gulaam Badges contest.

Created by Vikas Gupta, this badge was chosen by JKG Kislay for JUDGES’ SPECIAL MENTION AWARD

Related Posts:

Man’s Man? No thanks. – Cynically Engineered

Honor and Masculinity: How Patriarchy Warps Your Thinking – Cynically Engineered

Men do not compate with men the way women do?

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

First name, Unwanted. Second name, Dad’s or Husband’s name.

Keeping her maiden name can save an Indian woman’s life.

So what could make even the average, selfish, money-minded Indian family welcome baby girls?

Why I can’t take gender stereotypes seriously.

How can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

So how can women-folk want to abort girl children, they are female too!

They can because it is not Men versus Women. Patriarchy and related social evils (preference for male children, dowry, honor killing, forced marriages, joint families, female infanticide and feticide etc) thrive because some people – both men and women, benefit from controlling the lives of many other people (both men and women).

In a traditional set up, parents of sons generally benefit from patriarchy and so if they want such benefits badly enough, whether they are mothers or fathers, they both would be willing to abort a girl baby.

Why is it thought that a mother would be reluctant to abort a female fetus because she was a female fetus once? She is at no risk of being aborted anymore. If there are consequences the man and the woman would both suffer from them.  Say if their son doesn’t find a spouse because there aren’t enough women, or if their daughter is sexually assaulted, then the father and the mother would both be affected.

It’s true that Patriarchy oppresses women much more, but this gender bias does not benefit all men (or harm all women equally).  Do fathers-of-daughters, or sons-of-victimized-mothers, or men who can’t marry the woman they love  benefit from gender bias or Patriarchy? Also, patriarchy encourages women to ‘have’ male relatives – sons, brothers, fathers, even cousins and uncles and husbands (something they have no control over) – thus encouraging female feticide.

Patriarchy benefits some men and some women, and so some men and some women support it in various ways, like by aborting female fetuses or by blaming rape victims (to continue to control women’s lives and sexuality, feel good about themselves as Patriarchy’s loyal foot soldiers, amongst many other reasons).

Controlling women’s freedom and sexuality also forces men to be providers and protectors for adults who should not have needed to be provided for or be protected. It also deprives many men of wholesome relationships with women.

In the long run, Patriarchy benefits nobody – not the individual, not the community. A community is made up of individuals and unless the happiness of all the individuals is valued, the community has failed – like ours has. Nobody really remains unaffected like Amir Khan explained so simply in Satyamev Jayate, episode one.

Some more facts.

Parents and families who abort baby girls are not doing this out of love for the male child – this kind of parenting mind-set sees a child as an investment or a commodity.

Men can hate other men (or women), women can hate other women (or men).

I think some of us accept without questioning what culture/tradition/custom/religion/great grand parents/society etc has passed on. And some of us question and think, no matter what kind of environment they grew up in. And  Education and even IQ levels don’t seem to matter as much as attitudes.  (Maybe because our education doesn’t seem to encourage thinking and questioning?)

It seems it’s mainly the mindset that matters. It’s not uncommon to see narrow minded, prejudiced, insecure and controlling people in families where everyone else is liberal and respects individual rights. Or more commonly, exactly the opposite – one family member who doesn’t understand why some people’s happiness is less important than other people’s happiness. These are the people, men and women, who have spoken against Patriarchy and fought for reforms.

Related posts:

A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.

A woman is not a woman’s worst enemy. Patriarchy is.

This post began as a response to a comment on the last post, and in response to – ‘Can two women really become friends?’ and ‘Why women hate women?’

***

As little girls, women hear of the importance of things they have little control over. They hear about their skin colour, their physical beauty  and even today,  concerns about their happiness with their future in laws.

They are brought up to see marriage as the goal in their lives. Divorce or separation, staying unmarried or being widowed is seen as something they must avoid. This puts pressure on women to be ‘happily married’ or ‘happily in a relationship’, across cultures. And since much of this is not in their control – women have a lot to feel insecure about.

What’s more, Patriarchy is also responsible for why very little in this all-important relationship is in the control of those it involves.

Traditionally women’s partners are discouraged from seeing their marriages and their wives as important parts of their lives. It’s common for men to be shamed and taunted for showing they care for their wives or marriages. Jokes like ‘Shadi ke laddu, jo khaye wo pachtaye‘, or taunts like Joru ka gulaam are common. And this when women must move in among near strangers and depend on the spouse’s support to feel at home in a new environment.

Traditionally men’s partners are brought up to believe that finding a partner and ‘keeping him’ is their only goal in life. The education they receive, how they talk (softly), walk, look , respond to questions (always respectfully), the careers they choose (no jobs that require traveling) – everything is permitted keeping the comfort and approval of a future husband and his family in mind. Women are brought up to seek approval.

In Patriarchy, men are conditioned to fight for their egoes and ‘honor’. Jealousy in men is seen as manliness. Since the partner must depend on them, men might get away with being unfaithful.

Patriarchy also keeps women dependent on sons and brothers (Manusmriti is not very subtle about it) which makes them insecure about losing them to other women who depend on them, i.e. the women they marry. Basically the entire system puts women one against another.

In a Patriarchy – the partners women are made to fast, pray and work to one day find, are taught to remember that they must not become ‘joru ka gulaam’ or forget their priorities (their parents and birth-families) – so although they too want life partners – they are warned against giving as much as they expect to get.

The men expect to be the top priority in their spouse’s life but they are told she should not be their top priority or she might take them away from their parents. (But they are also told she must leave her parents, friends and family for them.) This naturally makes them take the women a little for granted. This makes the women insecure again.

In a traditional set up,  the respect and awe for male members at home and the insecurity and lack of self worth in the female members at home passes on from one generation to another. Even when they know they need not depend on male approval, the conditioning remains. The husband is still being brought up not to forget his parents come before his wife, and women are still being told the spouse is their world.

We also know that unlike a man who can walk out on an unfaithful wife (or honor-kill or throw her out etc) a woman is more likely to be asked to stay and make her marriage/relationship work. And then there maybe financial dependence. So more insecurity.

Women don’t hate each other any more than the rest of the population does. It seems women bond even when there is so much insecurity and dependence.

Movies like ‘Mirch Masala‘ and ‘Delhi 6‘ and awe inspiring stories like ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns‘ show how well women bond, even in unlikeliest of circumstances.

Sex and the City‘ is also about women bonding, supporting and being there for each other.

In real life and in the blogosphere, women are seen supporting, encouraging, taking out the time to counsel or just to listen to women.

Also consider, who exactly are women expected to get along with the most, but often don’t? Do they have a choice here? Often women are expected to get along with their spouses’ female relatives of all ages, backgrounds, expectations and attitudes. Traditionally, they are not encouraged to stay in touch with their friends. So they are deprived of the support system that friends could provide and are expected to get along with those who see respect (etc) from them as their right.

Patriarchy does not put the rest of the population under pressure to win the approval of their spouse’s relatives, so the rest of the population has little  opportunity to find out just how unfair and dis-balanced the system is. [Read Desi Girl’s take on this here and here]

And finally men do compete as much as women do – they have fought wars, fought duels, killed or got killed – but we ignore it as male aggression, male jealousy or machismo.

Patriarchy being a system that allows a few to control the lives of many, does not benefit most of those it controls, not men, not women. Not even those who it seems to benefit… but that’s another post.