Liberated…With Clauses

Women's liberation in India is still very selective, with daughters encouraged to be independent - but only before marriage

 Guest Blogger Arunima in her own words: I’m a software project manager by profession. In my personal life, I try to manage 3 projects – a very boisterous kid, a joint family setup and my own creative interests.

“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters”: Gloria Steinem

I came across this quotation in this post by Sunil Sir. Ever since then I have been wondering how true the first part of it is (am not even going to start debating on the second part!). Do we really raise our daughters like sons? Or are we being just plain hypocritical.

We teach our daughters to think for themselves, speak up for what is right, speak against what is wrong, to be financially independent and so on. But how many of us are willing to let our daughters stay that way even after marriage. How many parents do not tell their daughter to “keep everyone in your new home happy” as she steps out of her home into a so-called new life. Nobody says be rude, but hey, what happened to all that you taught us in the last two and a half, nearly three decades!

There is a wall hanging at my parents’ place, which I’ve seen since as long as I can remember. It read, “The sole purpose and mission of a woman’s life is to build a home more beautiful than her father’s and knit with dearer ties.” Oh, well! Shouldn’t that read, “The sole purpose and mission of a married couple’s life is to build a home more beautiful than their fathers’ and knit with dearer ties”?

The picture doesn’t change much when you tide over to the other side. A close school friend of mine coming from a semi-traditional South Indian family, married into a typical North Indian family from Delhi. Needless to say it was a love marriage, one that was reasonably supported from both sides. The boy’s parents “supported” her wish to continue working after marriage and after a baby as well.

To give her the independence required (there was none of that lacking before marriage!), she was encouraged to drive, run errands on her own. All of this, a first for them. But once home, she still has to practice ghoonghat, cannot eat at the same table as the elders, not even sit at the same table/sofa as her father-in-law or elder brother-in-law. Ever watched “Balika Vadhu” on Colors TV? Does this strike a chord?

So what is this? Selective liberation, or are we just slow at adapting?

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Pic credit: Nagarjun (Used under a Creative Commons license)


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