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That is the image of a woman that they are comfortable with, like their mother cooking in kitchen, keeping the household clean, doing the laundry, and so on.
“Indian men are still used to the traditional role given to women; they want intelligent girls for company but not to marry.” This statement by Amrita Pritam resonates perfectly with the mindset of Indian men even in the 21st century.
The expansion of educational facilities and the reach of higher education to the farthest corners of the country has brought a very minuscule change to the mindset of Indian men.
Even today when it comes to dating or hanging out with a girl, men prefer the company of an open minded, energetic and full of life female companion, but when it comes to settling down and taking the vows of married life, they look for a homely girl well versed in the traditional form of life.
One wonders why is it so? What is the reason behind this duplicity of a typical Indian man’s behaviour? The reason lies in the status quo.
Yes, Indian men are afraid to embrace change and let go of the familiarity of the gender roles they have grown up with. Where women are performing the traditional roles assigned to them over centuries, and taking care of the needs of men.
That is the image of a woman that they are comfortable with, like their mother cooking in kitchen, keeping the household clean, doing the laundry, and so on. These are the tasks or chores ‘of women’ in their minds; they have always watched the women in their family do them. Not just women in their family, this has been a common sight for them even in their neighbourhood.
When you have been born and brought up in such an environment, this is what one normalises. In such mindset, a woman who is free living, outgoing and unconventional is the wrong fit for their familial expectations.
Of course they enjoy the company of a free thinking woman. When it comes to making them part of their family, however, these men suddenly find themselves loathe to accept the same woman, who won’t fit into the mould they have developed in their minds over the years. It is akin to fitting a rectangular piece of puzzle into a square frame. The mere thought makes them uncomfortable. Centuries of indoctrination is not an easy opponent to challenge.
The BIG question is – how do we bring about a change? How do we shatter this rigid mindset of Indian men?
It is true that with the advent of globalisation and rise in literacy, this thought process has weakened to a certain extent. But even today, even in metros, and even more strongly in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, a typical matrimonial column is always looking for a “homely bride.”
Why has education not been able to bring a major change in this regard? The answer lies in the quality of our education system.
The textbooks of our different educational boards are actually presenting an image similar to what students see at home. A primary student sees that in their books, the father is always shown as ‘working outside’, while the mother is always shown to be doing household chores, in both images and text. This only strengthens the already prevalent conditioning of one’s brain.
These inherent sexist biases in our textbooks have fed Indian minds with the idea that Indian women are created only for these traditional roles. This is why the first change that we need to bring, is to make out textbooks more inclusive.
The second important subject that must be covered in our school and college curriculum is gender sensitization. Through gender sensitization, there is the potential to train the mindset of Indian men to understand everyday problems, sexism, and obstacles chased by Indian women. It can help them see how the men around them are part of the same problem, and train their minds to overcome the inherent patriarchal rigidity.
I know that these steps are not going to bring an immediate and radical change in the mindset of Indian men but we have to start somewhere. We have to remember that our fight is against a thousand-year-old patriarchal system, and not necessarily against men. To change such an old system will take time and persistent effort, and we have the potential to do that. To slightly misquote Robert Frost:
The woods are lonely, dark, and deep,
And I have promises to keep,
Together we will cross them all,
Together we shall make that leap.
Published here first.
Image source: a still from the film 2 States
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Uorfi Javed has been making waves through social media, and is often the target of trolls. So who and what exactly is this intriguing young woman?
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