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I spoke to a man for an arranged marriage meeting. Before telling me about himself or asking anything about me he told me that his parents would be living with us after marriage from Day 1. He said that he wants them around. Not because of any health condition. He just wants to “make them happy.” They feel lonely in their hometown.
For the past eight years, his parents have been living in the hometown because he was living with a roommate. But somehow, the moment he gets married, they will become lonely and helpless!
Very politely, I told this man that I would not be comfortable with this set-up. It will be difficult for me to adjust to three new people immediately. I said that during the first few years of marriage, the husband and wife should live alone because they are still trying to adjust to each other. He then told me that I will be “allowed” to wear jeans and that his parents are very nice people. As long as they are taken care of them, they will not “scold” me for anything.
I told him “No”. He later sent me a text message wishing me good luck in life, and that he is looking for someone with “family values”!
He also wanted me to “appreciate his honesty” because he told me about his expectation before marriage. I was honest too! Why didn’t I get appreciation for my honesty? He wants a woman to take care of his parents, because it is convenient for him. He gets to be Shavan Kumar by doing nothing for his parents except getting married. I refuse him, so I get to be a vamp!!
I don’t understand why this should be the norm. Let me tell you this is one of the reasons people still prefer to have a son. Because they can live with their son forever but not with the daughter.
When I say this, it is immediately interpreted as a rebellious, uncultured attitude. I want to ask these so-called custodians of Indian culture, are girls’ parents any less old? How come they manage alone? Or since they have given birth to daughters, they are so unfortunate to begin with that we don’t even count them as senior citizens?
Some men and even women say that “Yeah, but any guy with prefer to have his parents around. If you were a boy, wouldn’t you?’
Some even add, “Why do you even want to get married then!”
This statement is garbage. It reeks with chauvinism, and enjoying the benefits of patriarchy at a woman’s expense. This is how they justify dowry too!
No marriage is not about living with in-laws. People in the western countries also get married. They do not do this.
Please don’t get me wrong. Of course someone should be there to take care of parents in emergencies. In fact, if the parents can live in the same city, or nearby it is great. I know of people who even stay in the same apartment complex but in different apartments. That way, they are there when required and also have their privacy. Sometimes they stay together for economic reason. Some stay together for grandchildren. Living together can be a great form of support for parents as well as children. I am not saying they should not. As long as they are happy doing what they are doing, it is none of my business. I know of families where the girl’s parents also stay together.
What I am trying to say is in the Indian set-up, living with in-laws can become difficult because of high expectations. Especially in the initial years of marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is not even stable. But no, it is not a wife’s moral obligation to live with her husband’s parents and take care of them from the first day of marriage! It is not a man’s birth right to demand it. If she is doing it happily, great. If she refuses, it is okay too. It is her choice. It is difficult to adjust to one person. And definitely more difficult to adjust with more people from another generation, especially when they come with a sense of entitlement and expectation.
I have a request:
Indian men, when the girl you meet at shaadi.com refuses to live with your parents after marriage, you don’t get to shame her. You respect her choice, and find someone else. Please do not tell her that she does not have “family values”. Unless you also want that her parents should also live with you guys. “Respect for elders” and “family values” apply to elders who have borne daughters also.
Parents of girls, please do not force your daughters in to such marriages saying “so and so is also living with in-laws. This is our culture etc”. You will not be there with her each day to maneuver her way. She will be alone there. Let her decide for herself.
And girls, please know yourself. If you are not comfortable with the idea of living with in-laws, then be sure about this point before you get convinced into such a marriage. It is your whole life ahead. Later on complaining about it will get you nowhere.
Seeing the comments on the article, about women being equally responsible for such upbringing or social conditioning, I am adding this quote of Ms. Kamla Bhasin. Thank you readers, you always provide the much needed perspective.
I think like me most of you knew even before Anamika Majumdar started playing Kaun Banega Crorepati, that she is the contestant who would be winning Rs 1 crore, thanks to news and previews of the episode. Anamika Majumdar was the first contestant of this season to win Rs 1 crore. She is a homemaker from Jamshedpur who runs an NGO called ‘Faith in India’ which uplifts children and women through arts and social awareness. It was not clear to me whether she educates or employs them, but it seemed like she gives them a direction in life by engaging the children in dance, and the women in bhajans while teaching them about personal hygiene. I will update this article once I find out more about her NGO.
I have been writing a lot on KBC episodes lately. People who come on this show are ordinary people like you and me and they reflect societal attitudes. I also feel guilty because these are not celebrities and they are not putting themselves out there to be judged. Therefore, I do not want to make this article about attacking her husband. But here is what happened:
Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar’s husband how he feels about her NGO work. He said that it is okay as long as she is able to manage her household work. He added that if he comes home, and she is not there then it may not be so great. Mr. Bachchan asked Ms. Majumdar something like who needs her more, her own kids or the NGO kids. It was a strange thing to ask, and I felt that his only intention was to get the response from her, that she manages both well.
Would a male contestant ever be questioned on how he spends his time and justify how much of it is worth spending on other than his family?
Then there was an audio visual where the lady went on to explain how she finishes all her work of home, and then only she goes to the NGO. She added that initially the kids may not have been used to not having her own around but they soon understood that their needs are being taken care of. Her mother who by the way was very intelligent herself, and answered one of the ‘jodidar’ lifeline questions correctly, supported her daughter.
Ms. Majumdar was beautiful. She had such a sweet voice. She knew the answers. She had great general knowledge. She was so smart that even when she did not know the answer for sure, she could make an educative guess through the process of elimination. She was confident. She was kind-hearted. She cares about children and women who are not her own, and she wants to do something for them. I could not stop admiring her.
I know a lot of women like Ms. Majumdar. They are almost perfect. But forget about being admired, they are made to feel undervalued. They are made to feel guilty and worthless. Often, by a person who has vowed to support them for life.
She said on the show that at one point she had felt hopeless in life, and would speak to a tree for guidance. I do not know this couple personally so I would not like to blow all of this out of proportion and impose my assumptions.
Keeping them aside, I would like to say something to the women reading this:
You are much more than what you may be given credit for. Don’t let anyone define your self-worth. Do what gives you happiness. People will always be unhappy no matter what you do. Might as well do what makes you happy.
And to all men, please value your wife. She is probably doing the best she can. A little empathy and support from you could you make all the difference.
Friday night I had gone to a Durga Puja pandal. Yesterday I went for dandiya. Today is a relaxed day at home, so I thought of catching up on the ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ episode that I had missed.
All the guests who are invited to play for the ‘Nayi Chaah Nayi Raah’ segment are fascinating. One guest I remember was from Patna who conducts IIT coaching free of cost for children who cannot afford tuitions. His mother even cooks for those children. In this one lifetime, some people manage to find something so meaningful and selfless, and then there are others for whom there is no end to greed.
Friday’s guest contestant was Mumbai-based lawyer Afroz Shah, who has been honoured by the United Nations, for his environmental initiative of leading the clean-up of Mumbai’s Versova Beach. The next visuals were of Afroz and his volunteers removing the garbage from the beach with their hands, wearing gloves. On the show, he said that the garbage gets buried under the sand, and it requires a lot of strength for them to pull it out. Would I be able to do that? Who knows what kind of garbage would come out! In a country where people don’t even bother cleaning up after their own garbage, and civic sense is uncommon, this was an unusual sight.
I was especially impressed by this gentleman, and this episode made me very happy. Few things I saw touched me. This is an exceptional human being, and the qualities he exhibited show what being a good man really means. There are some stereotypes of being “masculine” which I feel are absolute rubbish and damaging for men. The false sense of “masculinity” has ruined many lives – including men who are expected to conform to them, and women who have to live with such men:
Men were born to be dirty. Cleaning is a woman’s job!
Here is a man who has been honoured by the United Stations for ……….. Cleaning! Cleanliness and hygiene has nothing to do with genders! It is a personality trait!
Men should not cry!
Another rubbish! Men should not make others cry. Afroz got emotional when his mother spoke about him on the show.
Men should not be emotional!
- Afroz said that he is very attached to all his volunteers! I thought it was such a sweet thing to say!
- Men should not be hugging each other! That’s a girly thing!
- When Mr. Bachchan gave Afroz a key to a tractor and an excavator, he was overwhelmed. He asked Mr. Bachchan for a hug!
Yes, these are the real men. The good men. Who care about the society. Who care about other people. Who are making a difference. They should be the role model for young boys. It is probably too late for old boys to learn but I will take a shot anyway. Being emotionally distant, saying ‘boys will be boys’, and not showing emotions are not “macho” qualities. Being sensitive, kind and expressive is. Integrity and goodness will always be the most endearing virtues in a man!
A friend of mine wrote a lovely article about how a woman was being pressurized to give up her job to take care of the child once her maternity leave was over. She made her husband and mother-in-law realize that the joys of parenthood do not discriminate between mother and father. The husband stepped in, and decided to be a stay at home dad while the woman resumed work after her maternity leave. In this case, the woman was earning more than her husband and it made no sense to her that she should give up her career.
I have also written about how men should participate in the household work and parenting. “Help out” would be a wrong term because it makes it sound like it is not their responsibility. Ideally, it is a shared partnership and both of them should contribute equally.
But what if the man stays at home full time while the woman works? Is it just the society that looks down upon that kind of an arrangement?
Do stay-at home dads feel under-valued in a society where “providing” has been a man’s prime responsibility?
A lot of men complain that the pressure to provide and support is solely on them. If they choose to prioritize family over career, this would also be frowned upon by their wives. There would be taunts, and comparisons with other men who are ‘doing so well’.
When we can appreciate women working full time, why can’t be appreciate men staying home full time and taking care of the home?
Feminism helps women and men because it helps break gender stereotypes. Yesterday, the last contestant on KBC was a lady who works while her husband takes care of the home, and their child. Mr. Bachhan applauded him. He said it is great that this man “allowed” his wife to achieve her dreams!
I was disappointed. I thought this whole “allowing’ business was done away with Farhan Akhtar in the movie, ‘Dil Dhadakne Do!’ Anyway, that is not the point I am trying to make in this article. I want to ask women would they prefer that their husbands become stay at home dads or household husbands? What would be their reasons?
My question is:
Would you like to have a house – husband? Which one of the following is the closest to your view?
1. Wow! I would love to have a house-husband! Where can I find such a guy!
2. I think husband and wife should both work and share household responsibilities. One person staying at home full time does not appeal to me.
3. I would not judge anyone. I respect househusbands and housewives. But personally, I would not want a house-husband for myself because I feel it would lead to ego clashes, insecurities, self-esteem issues and unnecessary pressure on me to excel in my career!
4. Men should be earning! Women already go through a lot of physical pain during pregnancy and childbirth ! It is not fair! This kind of arrangement should not be encouraged!
- So, yesterday it was raining during my exercise time. I had just downloaded ‘Shape of you’ on my cell-phone and was excited about jogging.
I took two rounds despite the rain, convincing myself that it was just a drizzle. I got wet and had to finally accept the fact that I cannot be out anymore. I headed to the gym. I don’t like going to gym at that time because it is too crowded. But ever since KBC started, I go early so that I can be home by 9 pm to watch the show peacefully.
The gym has stopped playing music on the music system. These days they just switch on the TV and put on one of the music channels. I am wondering if I started that? Because one day when I went to gym late, a cricket match was playing on the TV. I had got bored listening to the same CD again and again. So, I requested the guard to leave the TV on and I kept changing the music channels from MTV, to 9XM, to B4u music to Bindaasplay etc. Ever since then, I have seen the TV on.
Zetc channel was on. I didn’t like the songs they were playing – “Hoke man aaj magan naache hai chanan chanan’ types. I usually don’t mind such songs but in the gym, I prefer something more fast and catchy like ‘Main tera boyfriend’ or ‘Tenu suit suit karda’. Those songs immediately raise my speed. I wondered if it is okay if I change the channel. Then I thought everybody else is too busy in their work-out. Here I am obsessing about the music. I decided against it. I miss my post 9:15 pm slot when the place is empty. It like having a private gym…
It was almost 9pm. My mother had told me that the roll-over contestant from KBC will reach up to the one crore question. I did not want to miss that episode. So, I rushed home, panting and sweating. Just when I was leaving the gym, they started playing , ‘Tenu suit suit karda!’ How very unfair!!
This gentleman who won Rs 50 lakh in yesterday’s episode was 29 years old and had multiple degrees – M.A. Hindi, M.A. English, PGDM etc. Very educated person. Some of the questions that he was asked seemed very easy to me – like the state with the maximum rainfall with options such as Meghalaya, Karnataka, Maharashtra etc.! He seemed to be guessing in a lot of questions. But anyway, none of my business!
At some point, Mr. Bachhan remarked that this gentleman had got married very early. The gentleman replied that he is very happily married and has three kids. He said proudly that when he got married, he did not take any dowry!
I do not want to write more about this gentleman, because I do not want to make this article about attacking him. I just felt sad that our society is so regressive that not taking dowry is a matter of pride, something to boast about on national television. I am generally disappointed with the “good men” in our country.
Few years back, I had met a gentleman in an arranged marriage set-up. He asked me if I drink. I said yes. He said that he does not have a problem with that. He added that he is such a “cool, liberal guy” that he would even take me out for drinks after marriage!
“Some of my friends, they drink with other guys and leave their wives home. But I will allow my wife to drink with me!” he said proudly.
I told him that he has no right to “allow” another human being to do anything! And he is not doing his future wife a favour by “not having a problem with her drinking”.
P.S. – If you think you are a “nice guy” by waiving off dowry or being okay with your wife drinking you are not a nice guy! You are still a chauvinistic, probably trying to evolve but it will still take you another 100 years to understand the meaning of “gender equality”. And no I will not admire you because compared to some bigger idiots, you are “still better”.