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Exercising control on the bahu is the par for the course in our country. A daughter-in-law should be an obedient creature to be at the beck and call of people in her sasural.
“Aunty, your generation is quite sober and submissive, but these days girls are difficult. Don’t go for a career-oriented match. Independent daughter-in-law will be out of your hand.” This stereotypical conservative statement from a young man shocked me.
In the time of feminism, the ideology of subjugation, that too from a young person, is certainly disappointing.
The upright husband barely takes a stand for his wife. He prefers to stay away from any conflicts, being his parents’ innocent pet. Our rigid traditions, a ‘culture’ that includes a lot of arm twisting, and ‘respect for elders’ all come together to tighten the rein on the bahurani. If at all the daughter-in-law questions, she will either have to face anger, or sugar-coated words in an extra sweet tone that mean exactly the same.
There is no escape even for modern independent women.
Control freak in-laws don’t let her keep control of her finances, and this usually also includes the husband who “takes care” of his wife’s financial matters. Her right to spend her own money is sieged.
If she supports her parents with a chunk of her income, it is under the vigilance of her in-laws. Then the in-laws boast of themselves as the goddess of mercy by not interfering in the daughters-in-law’s dispenses.
This illness is so deeply rooted that we take this subjugation in our stride. To add fuel to this mindset, mythology and history cite examples of obedient daughters-in-law. From Sita to Mondadori and from Draupadi to Subhadra, women are idolised for being the epitome of obedience. But that was a different time and isn’t relevant for modern times.
Now, in the 21st century, the aspirations of women are different. They are independent and individualistic and have a right to rise over their subordinate status. Now they are more aware of their personal space. An independent woman will never give in to dwelling in the dominant air. Conservativeness needs a paradigm shift to open-mindedness. Expecting a bahu’s obedience under duress is unfair, and this will never earn respect.
In the past, an Indian woman usually got married at a very tender age of 14-16. Her entire life passed under the control of her parents and then in-laws. When she, in turn, became a mother in law, she similarly oppressed her daughter-in-law. Fathers in law were usually silent spectators, or actively taking part in this generational oppression.
This vicious cycle needs to break, but how do we break it? By creating a harmonious relationship, of course, and giving space to the daughter in law and son to live their lives. So, instead of poking a nose into a daughter-in-law’s life, let’s make room for her.
Image Credits: Jayesh Jalodara on Unsplash
I am more expressive with the pen. Usually my subjects are - Obsolete Social Norms that hamstrung women in myriad ways. I too an environmentalist and gazing at nature is like my healing prayer. My conscience read more...
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