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Inviting you to an event in Bangalore with some bold women who have made it their business to go out and own the world! #BeyondTheDoors 2018.
What if we ‘fixed’ the problematic messaging of the All Out ad? This author describes what she’d have done differently if she was in the #ToughMom’s place.
Years back, when I was five or six years, I stole five paise from my mom’s drawer. When my mom came to know of it, she thrashed me. With whatever that came in her hands. Broom-stick, roti-pin, her own hands.
“How dare you take money without asking?”
“You dare ever open that drawer again!”
To drive the lesson home, she tied me to my cupboard using my skipping rope. We lived in a chawl back then. No one dared to enter the house and open me up. I, myself, did not dare. Afternoon turned to evening, evening to dinner. I was opened up only when my father came home. Silently, and without any arguments. Disciplining us was clearly my mom’s prerogative and no one interfered. It was simply not tolerated.
This event had a deep impact on me. I learned a few Do’s and Don’ts.
Money that is earned by you is yours. If you cry, no one will come and dry your tears. You must do it yourself. You must not allow hunger to surface or plead to anyone. When mother disciplines, no one interferes.
For a long, long time, I dared not disobey my mother. I earned my money at 16. I learned to be self-sufficient. I found kinder ways to discipline when my progeny arrived.
Spanking, confinement, humiliation – are tools that are never used.
Dialogues and Conversations are my general tools. A stare is what I fix when displeased. Withdrawing food has never been used. Time outs, not my method.
Whatever has happened, it is resolved before meal times. Inclusion, and not exclusion of all four is the rule.
So, when I see this hypocritical, patriarchal endorsement by #AllOut in the name of #StandByToughMoms my blood boils.
The dinner table is set, all members are sitting around. Two daughters-in-law are serving? (In 2018? Yes for #Allout we are Sanskari only if served by women.)
The child pushes the plate away. Mother pushes it back wordlessly. He does it again. She picks up the plate and takes it away. Senior ma-in-law starts, “Oh what has he done that you are depriving him of food?” (To begin with, the child should be asked as to why is he insulting the food? Does it not fall into the Sanskari format, or are boys exempted from that?) “For 10 rupees, you are doing so much!”
Never mind, our daughter-in-law in question, (2018 version) wordlessly goes around serving food.
Another elderly female relative begins, “He had taken it from your purse, not the neighbour’s…” What rationalising Sanskari Logic! It would be offensive only if it were taken from a neighbour, then the tune would be “As a mother what have you taught?”
Ah we detoured! Next is the Father himself…
“He took my money!“, “Tere Baap ke ghar se nahi aye the!”
Here I wanted to break my screen, but this money is my own, does not belong to any one’s Dad, so on time, I controlled.
What is our #ToughWoman doing still? Demurely serving food, unruffled, unaffected, a paragon of virtue.
Then comes in “Chotte Gharki he…Tere maa baap ne kya kuch nahi seekhaya tujhe?”
My blood boiled and spilled out, but not this 2018 mom’s with a cute little punk eyeing his elders. Everybody is in mute mode. Food she cooked must be delicious.
I had a question here. When cuss words are used we beep, because you do not want children to be wrongly influenced. Don’t you think, this deserved a beep in the drawing room and advertorial then and there. Do we want our kids to learn “Tere baap ke ghar” sentences?
Oh wait! Now the big moment arrives. Dadaji opines, “He has not taken the money but stolen it, today he has stolen, tomorrow God knows what he will do! Theek kiya bahu tumne!“
Ah the Validation! It becomes bonafide, only if a male Patriarch benevolently, magnanimously, grandiosly gives his verdict.
I have a question to this Almighty Dadaji.
Can you say a word to your uncouth, uncourteous, ill-mannered male progeny? Why did you not feel the need to correct him then and there! What is “My money?” Is she supposed to get some money from her father’s house to give her son the practice of stealing and allowing it? The Dadaji is so generous with his concern for future generations. I feel some course correction is needed to his present generation and his own attitudes.
Why are his daughters-in-law waiting on the table?
Are they not equal?
Should he not ask his son to apologise?
Is this how #AllOut wishes to depict a Strong Mom? A mom who takes timidly the abuses hurled at her in front of a dozen family members? Do tough actions look like this? In her entire body there was resignation, yes! Firmness, I missed it. If you see it, do point it out to me.
I call out the #AllOut folks and tell them we do not need #StandByToughMom we need #StandUpToughWomen.
If I would be there, first thing, I would be sharing the dining space eating and discussing the crisis that transpired. For child stealing money, for whatever reason, is one.
Next, if abuses were hurled at my “Background or father… (I still cannot get over- Tere baap ke… Beep please!) I would fix the rationalising and interfering one with the coldest stare, picked up my punk, and walked away to my room, corner, whatever is available in that joint family space. Alternatively, I would ask my husband to apologise right there, or the Dal, Sabji whatever, would be on his head, instead of the plate. By Jove, I would most definitely not serve food to such an ill-mannered product of patriarchy.
Validation I need from no one, not even Dadaji. If I feel my kid has transgressed, it would be a private business of the father and the mother alone.
I felt, my mom had more courage 35 or 37 years ago, to discipline me in whatever way she deemed fit. She did not need a Dadaji to give a “Theek kiya bahu” certificate, to smile. As if Dadaji spoke on her behalf so it was alright to put aside the berating of her background. Will the child then learn to respect her or his Nanaji for that matter? Is this a woman of 2018? Surely she would and should have a little more charisma… She looked more sleepy to me than tough!
All good, till next time you hurl expletives at the demure daughter-in-law for another tough stand.
All I want to tell #AllOut is “Theek nahi kiya…”
Maybe next time you want to show your support for tough moms, try showing a woman who stands for herself for she knows what matters to her and what matters to her children. She definitely would not allow a “Tere baap ke…”
The Dal and Sabji would have a better target.
It’s better that a child remembers a thunderous woman than a wispy, dripped in frozen water, ‘unable to speak for herself’ woman!
Image Source: YouTube