Exploring Patriarchy – Chapter 18
A Horrible Word
Luck. That horrible word that they use to deny other women of acknowledgement. MM had used it many times when faced with the achievements of other women.
She had put them down, saying also, that they didn’t make time for their family and for their children. Forgetting that parenting is a two-person role. And ignoring the fact that family needs time, commitment and a real relationship with a husband and father just as much as it needs that from a wife and mother.
This system that the Indian middle class had adopted, which had men working long hours to match high standards of living, and many women abandoning careers when the family needed balance, wasn’t working. Families were stressed and vastly different gender roles created a gap in understanding, that created discord between men and women.
It was isolating men from the kind of love a wife feels when her need for rest is a priority equal to his need for rest. And a lack of family time was, in some cases, isolating them from their children.
Gender roles are reinforced in families where parents teach their boys to be brave and not cry, and sympathize when girls do the same. These attitudes, when carried to extremes, or when combined with other factors that create psychological stress, can create rage.
The Male Rage I speak about here is different from anger that is a part of the normal range of human behaviour because it is created by a system we need to leave behind. MM had seen this rage many times in the lives of many women she knew.
She’d seen this internal rage oppress the woman and make her anxious if she rested when tired, and her husband had to serve himself dinner and wash up the dishes. A very common story, because the man who has never done chores and comes home to a well run home, often doesn’t understand the effort it takes.
And men tired from the busy outside that has visible stressors, often miss and therefore don’t consider the invisible stressors at home.
Healing the Gender Divide
MM’s scope of influence was herself. And the way she ran her home. And HER ATTITUDE. And this last is what she changed.
She started to appreciate work-family-life balance, and to admire the women who had raised these families. Women. Because it is mostly women who manage this balance here in India. Not men.
And one day, while watching The Piano Diaries on YouTube with her husband, she commented on how wonderful it was to see women doing well in the music industry. With families that supported them through years of work and practise. And men who even served themselves dinner when their women were away from the home – at work or at rehearsals!!
This was, at that time, a luxury she’d never had. And her husband came across to her and just hugged her tight.
Related post: I Could Look At You In Envy – a poem on sister acknowledging sister.
MM was slowly starting to accept the idea that cooking and eating was a survival skill, and NOT a gender role.
Her husband would make that journey in time.
Meet Blogger Somma Banerjjee
Many thanks to blogger and writer Somma Banerjjee for her article Anatomy Of Male Rage In Patriarchy. It’s a long read, with a personal story that is not unfamiliar, as I have heard other women speak on these issues. I felt that I must add a commentary on male rage after reading her post. A different perspective. But then, each one’s window opens to a different world.
I invite you to check out her article Ek Chutki Sindoor- A Badge of Honour or a Mark of Subservience? Like many traditions, that of the Sindoor is practised differently today in broad minded families. I know families that have abandoned it completely, those that think of it as a wedding day tradition and others where it’s a custom that is familiar and therefore needs to be a part of a married woman’s daily dress routine.
It was important, I think, for me to acknowledge two facts when reading Somma’s writing.
One. That the forward thinking Indian with a broader cultural and social mind-set exists, but based on the view from MY window to life, is a lower percentage of the population of our country as compared to the rest.
Two. That we must listen to every voice. Acknowledge experiences. And respect the right to speak. Even if our experiences reflect an opposite view. Even if these issues are beyond our experience or our knowledge. And even, if we see that our part of society had these issues, but has moved on.
As I said in my About page, the rainbow has many colours.
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.