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With Entitled Men At Home, One Wonders: Did We Stretch The ‘Good Wife & Mother’ Bit Too Far?

Posted: May 2, 2019

Traditional stereotyping of gender roles and social conditioning poses serious challenges for marriages today, with society conflicting with modern ideas of equality and empowerment. Time to change?

Indian mard is stereotypical about his likes and dislikes, what he will or won’t or do… wants garam khana, won’t eat leftovers, hates housework, won’t pick up his plate or fetch a glass of water for himself, wants towels, wallets, socks, and tiffins laid out before leaving for work. You won’t hear such things from other parts of the world, however, you’ll find the same guys become self reliant when they leave home or settle abroad. So homes are where we spoil them.

Strangely, our women are indulgent and pamper their boys and men, so little wonder that women complain that men won’t won’t serve food for themselves, babysit the kids, do chores, buy groceries etc. In fact most men don’t know the quantity of food or khana served on their plates and need mothers and wives for it.

Men as ‘spoilt kids’

Why marriages are seen as ‘settle hona’ for the men. Which meant men look for comfortable homestead, food, laundry and free room service. While relocating to a new place for jobs, the first solution recommended for boys is ‘marriage’ or ‘settling down’.

“Mummy ne bigad ke rakha hai” (mummy has spoiled him)… what most Indian women say when, men expect wives to do what their ‘mums did for them’…. Women must teach boys to wash briefs, vests, keep closets or cook a decent meal. You don’t need mothers and wives to do it.

These traditional stereotyping of gender roles and social conditioning poses serious challenges for marriages and modern societies conflicting with modern ideas of equality and empowerment.

When Indian women are handed ‘to do’ list by the mother in law of likes, dislikes, food preferences, habits or patterns which wives are supposed to fit in !!

My son needs bed tea, only roti-sabji for tiffins, hates idlis wants crisp dosas, won’t cook, hates housework etc., but rarely will you find a girl’s father at the time of marriage preface, saying…my daughter won’t cook, do chores, hates to travel by public transport will travel only by car….

“Iske papa kuch nahin karte hai…” (my husband doesn’t do anything at home) when wives say of their spouses. A newbie mom and good wife (ones that went away with HAHK) did cooking, chores, laundry, homemade snacks for a man who never lifted his finger to do anything at home except, play PUBG. In fact the man even had an excuse for not babysitting kids, they didn’t want to be with daddy – so did we then stretch the ‘good wife act’ too far?

Not that women don’t try to change men but..”lekin yeh sunta hi nahi…” if men didn’t listen and feel entitled to put up their feet, then women must take the blame for not doing enough to break social barriers.

Time deadlines for married woman

Women feel the pressure to get back home before clock strikes, a la Cinderella, before men or children returned and feel guilty for staying outside when they should be at home rightly making chai and hot pakoras. The fear of being berated by families for neglecting ‘wifely duties’ (zimmedari) is hurting. While fixing a cuppa is no big deal in western countries, what’s with our boys ?

When food genderism is an accepted norm in Indian households

He doesn’t eat karela, so she won’t make it, “Yeh padwal nahin khate so no padwal…” (he doesn’t eat snake gourd, so can’t make it) when palates and food tastes undergo 360 degree transition for most women one they get married.

It’s commonly accepted practice without rancour, but are we unfair to ourselves when we owe allegiance only towards food flavours of our husband’s family and habits.

Women are also funny people at restaurants. We prefer to go alongwith whatever is ordered by men, sharing portions or leftovers by kids while preferring not to order for ourselves, lest food go waste, so the adjustment was always hers.

Food genderism exists in most homes and families, only that we didn’t see it happening. Why don’t we just teach them to become tolerant and adapt to our tastes too? It’s time women asked themselves this.

“Yeh sab hamare yahan nahi chalta…”

The tagline that sealed any further arguments against rules for women- that “all this is not allowed in ‘our culture'”

Obey family elders, dress code diktats and traditions, customs and rituals, appear in veils or ghunghat before men or outsiders. Women don’t wear clothes of their choice; we seek permission to wear sleeveless clothes, jeans, pants, leggings or sheer fabric. “Inko nahi pasand..,” (he does not like it) when we obey and  conform out of ‘love’ or ‘respect’,… but do men show same kind of respect for the women when they go shirtless, wear knickers outside, flaunt machismo, is what nobody asked.

When is marriage a one way ticket to making babies in India

Most women who get married are required to get pregnant ASAP. Why? Is it a means of tying down girls to their homes so that they are off their spouses back, put their dreams on hold, and are occupied fully in raising kids for next quarter of the lives? Do we ever let girls make their choices without pressure of patriarchy?

And the list is endless. With years of systemic social conditioning we are either inured to the discrimination, or we prefer to not see it that way for fear of jolting our social setups, or upsetting families.

Time women wake up to see the prejudices inherent in society and learn to fight back, or you will never see the change you want to see.

Image source: a still from the movie Maine Pyaar Kiya

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