Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 2
MM and her husband had a love marriage. A merger of two families that was quite comfortable as both families knew each other – and so surprisingly, would have suited families who prefer arranged marriages. MM, an avid reader of old romance novels, had found her knight. A knight-in-shining-armour who had never really had any practise because he’d been rescued all his life.
His family had always lived without a maid, so he could wield the broom and kitchen scrubby. Or cook, iron and do the washing when needed. When he had time. And when he wasn’t too busy. But he had no clue what it felt like to do this when he was running on empty, because his mother had always filled in during times he was busy. Even on days she was weighed down with elder care and had no resources. She did this for him but not for her daughters.
They were a progressive Indian family where men helped with chores at home on days their schedules allowed. Still, there was this idea that men should be served and that women could not go out for lunch with their friends – unless there was another woman to heat up the food and serve them the men their meal.
An idea that many men would be happy to discard I think, as there’s a freedom to being able to go into the kitchen and serve oneself. But that the women in this family held onto, for dear life. MM wasn’t raised with this idea but had adopted it with a lot of other ways when she married.
She now saw it as a problem because she had a home-based career, no help with chores and needed time for family that was getting older. She spent meal time serving and fetching, and only got to sit and eat when her husband was away at work. Or when they went out to a restaurant. The lockdown of 2020 would take away these small freedoms.
Desperation would make her assert her right to sit down and eat. A right which every individual should have, but which many Indian women don’t have. Or don’t not want because they have a wonderful Indian maid to support them.
MM had thought about this custom a lot because it is one that cripples many young boys and all children in families where maids do so much work that children don’t learn independence. There’s a sense of responsibility and an achievement that comes from looking after oneself and bearing ones share of the daily chores that many Indian children don’t experience.
It prevents them from learning time management skills, and how to balance their dreams with the tasks necessary for daily living. Skills much needed to curb the busy of today and keep it within a reasonable balance.
Change the Woman to Change the Man
I visit my friend and she's at the table feeding her son who is perfectly able to eat on his own. He's almost a teen! I wonder why it is that she just can't see. She's got a spoon in her hand and love in her heart and this is the way she's bringing him up. He comes home from work and she brings him water it's something she won't do for any of her daughters. Is this the way it should be, or is it a problem? Is she raising a son who is likely to give trouble? Will her son only see love when it comes with food and get upset if it isn't served in the way that she used to do? Is this love or is it a need for control? A way to keep hold when she should let go? We have to change the woman to change the man before she can raise him with the spoon in her hand. Teach her that love is letting go to have no need to control through very fixed gender roles. You need to change, young woman, if you've married a man who wants you to hold the spoon in your hand. Teach him love that is given free of control so that he learns to be free even if his Mom can't let go.
I invite you to read all chapters of Exploring Patriarchy and walk with Microwave Madam as she explores the impact of patriarchy on her life and on society. And looks for solutions.