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Why Does A MIL Make Her DIL Suffer The Same Oppression She Had To?

Posted: April 28, 2020

As a society, we’ve made progress. But women are still shackled to some traditional ideas. Why does a MIL expect her DIL to tolerate the same things as her?

Though we live in a relatively modern society, even today, to a certain extent all the societies have been male dominant since the beginning of time. Keeping the importance of the males intact a set of rules was imposed on women and their lives. Any change to it would be received with a rejection and the person would be disregarded.

Although we are moving forward, some of these ties to the old traditions are so strong that they still affect us. The Indian society is a perfect example! In fact, being traditionally and spiritually strong, women face more problems in a family matching with the changing times. This has kept on going through generations.

The bahu must always suffer

Women specifically in the role of a Bahu (daughter-in-law) of every generation has faced this problem, they are still facing it. Here, the family bonding is important, while personal existence and well being becomes secondary.

In the name of tradition, she has been made to do everything one can think of. Right from waking up earliest for her family to fasting for her husband (never for her); to eating only after her family has eaten. Be it pregnancy or general health, little or no flexibility is given. She cannot decide what to wear, what to do, when to talk, whom to talk to, the list just goes on and on.

Whether her appearance or her attire fits into the frame of ‘bahu’ determines her role and acceptance in the family. Practically every woman lives a life to satisfy others and this deeply impacts her own existence and well-being.

Why does the struggle still continue?

The million-dollar question that arises here is that if a woman from every generation has suffered the same, why is the struggle still on-going? Every generation questions why the previous generation didn’t learn from experience and ease the lives of others to come. To be honest, the answer isn’t an easy one. There are a bunch of layers to it, and I will try and open some of them here.

I suffered, so why can’t she?

Male domination and preservation of male ego in families is still intact and obstructs the path to progressive thinking. Over the time women are brainwashed by a monotonous life. And they become true believers of the way of life they are made to follow. Thus, they believe that the women from the next generation should follow the same things.

In a way, they pass on the suffering. ‘If I suffered and survived, my bahu must either change or suffer like I did!’

Double standards in the society

“My daughter can live the way she wants with us. But will have to follow everything her in-laws expect of her.” And similarly, “Our bahu has to live like a bahu at all times.” She is expected to accept the new family and surroundings without changing a single thing.

The girl is expected not to change anything in the new house or live like she normally would. And with all these contradictions, the girl entering the family is unable to mix with the family unless she changes herself completely and gives in to all of her in-laws’ wishes. 

The elders in the family often blame the generation before them for having been rigid, strict, orthodox and unwelcoming. However, when they have the opportunity to act in a different manner, they often repeat the same mistakes.

And lastly, but most importantly, is your husband supportive and brave to raise a voice, for change?

Is there a solution to this?

Change in this suffering can occur only with a change of mentality. What we want our bahus to be will decide our progress in the society. Women will be happier when they are treated as individuals first.

Their thoughts, likes, dislikes and way of living life will have to be respected in order to preserve their well being. Men and women of both the generations need to consciously step forward to bring this positive change in our society.

It is very important to understand that when a woman is happy and satisfied in her new home, she will keep all her family members happy. The family has to let her be herself and let her take care of her life her way.

Guidance, experience and presence of elders is always valued in our societies. But certain boundaries need to be respected in order to save the individual from being lost and deprived of respect and love they deserve.

Respect that one’s right on their  life is bigger than love, dominance, ego and traditions. We get one life to live and we should respect each other’s right of existence and way of living.

Always remember: One life! One’s right!

A version of this was earlier published here.

Picture credits: Still from Hindi TV series Saath Nibhana Saathiya

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