Culture

We, The Equalists

  • Sonal Singh
    Head, Corporate Communications, Jindal Stainless

We, The Equalists

Not-at-all-dear Patriarchal Society, I know that I’m a huge disappointment to you. I couldn’t have been happier with myself for that.

You’re right when you say that women like us have imbalanced the societal order. We indeed have. And we will happily continue at this noble task till the time gender balance is restored. Till the time that personal interest, and not gender, determines what we do and what is expected out of us.

You’re right when you say that we have corroded your ‘value’ system. Your values consider women as ‘paraaya dhan’.  Therefore, a lot of you raise your daughters believing  that marriage is their end goal. And that the daughters’ actual family is the conjugal home, and not the natal home. Naturally, the sons grow up believing that they are the real inheritors and only care-takers for ageing parents.

Hence, you forever prepare your daughters to adapt to a new home when they grow up. You ask them to save their aspirations subject to the approval of the husband and his family. Basically, you raise your daughters only to serve as future wives and daughters in-law.

On the other hand, you condition your sons to believe that their only worth lies in taking care of old parents. And that their wife will, at best, serve as another instrument to further this goal. Basically, you raise your sons to treat you as the only priority of their lives.

Your colossal cunning at taking care of yourself, at the end of the day, surprises me. How beautifully you’ve constructed your notions of right and wrong to serve your own ends. Daughters are killed in the womb because they will not be of any real worth to biological parents. As long as you have your goals well secured, your children don’t matter!

You’re right that women like us have marred your traditions. Your traditions…such as fasting for the health of husband and children, carrying forward the rituals of the conjugal home, treating the husband’s home as the primary home, and the husband’s family as the primary family, cooking, cleaning, and doing all the chores in the home, being the primary parent to one’s own children, putting one’s own career and interests on the backburner in order to raise future generation…all your traditions are designed to subjugate the interests of women as compared to men. Your ‘pious’ traditions take her away from an environment of love and care, and place her under constant coaching (and criticism) of in-laws. Your traditions ensure that the woman is constantly pressured to become and behave in a stereotypical manner. Your traditions discourage her to have her own views and opinions that may differ from the conjugal home. Your traditions create a hostile home environment for any woman who does not wish to conform to it.

Earlier, women put up with your traditions because they didn’t have economic empowerment. It’s not that women were unintelligent or that they didn’t see through your designs. They did, and that’s why they raised and educated their daughters to not fall prey to the same trap. These are the same daughters who now do not give a dime to your son-worshipping traditions.

You’re right that women like us have inflicted misery on ageing parents. The parents of patriarchal set-up come from the mindset that wives of sons are born to serve as cogs in the wheels of the family car, and believe it’s their duty to school and domesticate their daughter in law. Obviated in this belief is the second-class status of the daughter in-law, the supremacy of the in-laws’ way of life, and the inherent belief that ‘my way is the right way’. Naturally, they expect the son’s wife to please and pamper their egos, to elevate them above her own parents, to be pliable to their training, and subservient to their orders. The son, of course, is under no such obligation to his in-laws.

Injustice at its height, even when you read this, isn’t it? Women have decided to give only as much respect to the husband and their family as we get in return. Now if that makes you miserable, who is to blame? An equal me or your self-serving expectations?

You’re right that women like us are snatching your sons away. Actually, that was never the plan. The idea was to live happily and peacefully with in-laws. After all, whether those of women or men, old parents indeed need support. Did you know, that among the Nairs of Kerala and Khasis of Meghalaya, it was men who got married to women and men who moved to their wives’ houses?  Such societies of the world have been designed to keep people together. While displacement to another home may have initial challenges, the experience can be beautiful and enriching. Marriages and subsequent movements can strengthen the social and cultural roots of the family, provided there is equal respect for all individuals.

You’re right that women like us are causing more divorces. In situations such as above, when the son is too scared or too conditioned to give equal respect to his wife and her parents, it natural to see relationships break. Marriages end and every such ending is adding value to the future generation. These endings send an important signal to growing boys and girls. That for families to be sustainable, gender roles are, and must remain, equal and flexible. Every such ending is worthy of celebration.

You’re right that women like us are raising a generation in chaos. As the economic empowerment of women is a recent phenomenon, it’s the recent generation which is getting to witness the rise of the woman, and the power struggle inside the house. Naturally, this generation is confused, and often disturbed. In yesteryears, children were sure that their fathers were superior to their mothers. They may have felt miserable about it, but at least there was surety of status. Today’s children are growing up in a state of flux. Reminds me of a quote, “Most people would rather be certain they are miserable, than risk being happy.” Our society is at this stage. At least our future generation will not grow up to be like you.

So here’s my endorsement – you were right about me being your bane. You’ll be sad to note that my kind is growing, and they are far, far more impatient than me.

In the end, to borrow somebody’s expression, here’s our T-shirt line for you:

No, we checked our receipt. We didn’t buy any of your tripe.

So-not-yours,

We, The Equalists.