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We have often been told that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but what about a woman’s heart? Does anyone wish to know that?
Have you ever seen your mother sit down with a plate of food she loves without first giving you, or even without being coaxed or forced? Have you any idea what could be your mother’s favorite food? Have you ever witnessed her having the first meal of the day while she makes sure she caters to everyone else’s choices/ demands?
Perhaps the answer to all these questions would be a resounding “No!”
Most of us have never seen our mother sit down with her bowl of food, without asking someone else if they want something, or be at ease that there would be someone in her family to serve her a second helping in case she needs it, just as she makes multiple rounds of the kitchen to get whatever her family insists upon. Sometimes the demands may be outrageous, as she might run out of the ingredients, but she would never disappoint anyone- for she has never been taught to do so!
For some time now, once the rest of the house gets into their usual routine I sit down with my plate of breakfast and my first cup of coffee unabashedly; unlike how our mothers have to put down their first cup repeatedly so that others can have theirs hot.
This is something that I have always failed to understand; it is like an unwritten doctrine- the best gets reserved for the men, the hottest and the freshest food lands on their plates, while the undesirable leftovers are for the women of the household.
It would be a lie if I say I haven’t seen this while growing up; in our home it was taken a notch higher where the women of the household used the leftovers to give them a classy make over as if to massage their broken selves!
Once married, a woman is expected to replicate the same behaviour or go a step ahead by sidelining her maternal home traditions, and give precedence to the ones that define her ‘new house’.
Here again the concept of a ‘new house’ is quite strange and perhaps only prevalent in India.
Does a woman really have her own house? She is persuaded into believing that from birth until marriage she lives in the house built by her father, post which she’s handed over (as the literal translation of ‘kanyadaan’ says) to her husband and his family, who now become her ‘new family’.
Irrespective of how professionally accomplished a woman might be, her prowess is still measured in the way she cooks food or nurtures her home. While on one hand women are considered the backbone of every family, on the other they are judged and berated for every frivolous matter that the society deems as parameters for ‘well-brought-up’ women and girls.
For a long time I have been appreciated and perhaps loved a little by some of the members at my ‘new home’ because I cook well. To add to this societal ‘achievement’ of mine, I could replicate dishes that were alien to me previously. And that was a double whammy! However with time this love and appreciation soon got restricted to only my culinary endeavours, and eventually I had enough of these pseudo appreciators of mine.
Today as I sit with my third cup of coffee with all the household chores taking a backseat for sometime, I realize how magnanimously our mothers contribute to the overall social fabric of the society, and yet how deprived they remain. And they do all this silently, happily, nonchalantly.
They do not expect anything in return, or I guess that is what we wish to believe in until someone ushers in that much desired change of perspectives!
Image source: a still from English Vinglish
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Shows like Indian Matchmaking only further the argument that women must adhere to social norms without being allowed to follow their hearts.
When Netflix announced that Indian Matchmaking (2020-present) would be renewed for a second season, many of us hoped for the makers of the show to take all the criticism they faced seriously. That is definitely not the case because the show still continues to celebrate regressive patriarchal values.
Here are a few of the gendered notions that the show propagates.
A mediocre man can give himself a 9.5/10 and call himself ‘the world’s most eligible bachelor’, but an independent and successful woman must be happy with receiving just 60-70% of what she feels she deserves.
Darlings makes some excellent points about domestic violence . For such a movie to not follow through with a resolution that won't be problematic, is disappointing.
I watched Darlings last weekend, staying on top of its release on Netflix. It was a long-awaited respite from the recent flicks. I wanted badly to jump into its praise and will praise it, for something has to be said for the powerhouse performances it is packed with. But I will not be able to in a way that I really had wanted to.
I wanted to say that this is a must-watch on domestic violence that I stand behind and a needed and nuanced social portrayal. But unfortunately, I can’t. For I found Darlings to be deeply problematic when it comes to the portrayal of domestic violence and how that should be dealt with.
Before we rush to the ‘you must be having a problem because a man was hit’ or ‘much worse happens to women’ conclusions, that is not what my issue is. I have seen the praises and criticisms, and the criticisms of criticisms. I know, from having had close associations with non-profits and activists who fight domestic violence not just in India but globally, that much worse happens to women. I have written a book with case studies and statistics on that. Neither do I have any moral qualms around violence getting tackled with violence (that will be another post some day).