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I’d prefer to be the unsociable daughter-in-law, rather than the alternative our mothers have been – submissive daughters in law who agree to all social taboos.
Indian women struggle with many taboos their whole life. Many of us surrender, and follow these so called traditions that ruin our freedom & the opportunities to lead a joyful and ambitious life.
Starting from the menstrual taboos, which do not allow a girl to touch her own belongings, and to sleep on her own bed. She is forced to follow the system of sleeping on the floor inspite of having a severe menstrual pain. She is forbidden to enter a temple, as if she has done a crime and does not deserve to worship. A ‘second grade citizen’ like feeling in her own house at a time when she actually needs a pleasant ambience of around, that could help her to bear the pain & the mood swings she experiences.
Then comes the urging by society: “get your girl married… she has entered her 20’s.’ The 20’s is the age when a girl reaches the completion of her basic education. She may have a desire to study more, she may aspire to earn herself first and attain financial independence, before getting married to someone. She may have a dream to establish her name, not as someone’s daughter or someone’s wife, but as herself.
Next comes the compulsion of having children. On completion of the first year of your marriage, you start getting pressure from the society to have kids. I agree, it has been medically accepted that 20’s are the most fertile period of a woman, but it has also has been proven that upto 35, the fertility does not decrease to a level that can cause problems. Moreover, it is an era of IVF and frozen embryo implantation, that gives you the freedom to decide when you want to get pregnant with your own egg and your husband’s sperm, without having fertility issues. You can freeze an embryo for around 10 years that is a period enough to achieve your desired ambition. But, society does not allow you to think freely. They force you repeatedly to get pregnant before 30.
Women who aspire to be more than this have to cut themselves off from society if they wish to live life their way. In small cities they have to even cut themselves off from in-laws who believe in this set of social rules. This is the only way they can live her dreams.
So, my dear society, your so called ‘unsocial daughters in law’ are ‘unsocial’ because your decade old traditions are more important for you, than their smile and the togetherness of your own family. Your stubbornness about following the rules has made her realise that if she wants to live her dreams, she has to separate herself from the places and the people who force her to bear these taboos.
She has chosen to live her life her way, and she has full authority to do so.
Header image is a screen grab from the movie Monster-in-law.