Recently, one of my domestic helps took a couple of days off without calling me first, and I instantly knew something was wrong. She showed up at my doorstep the third day, with a blue-black eye and a swollen lip.
Apparently, her drunk husband beat her up because he wanted sex, and she asked him to wear a condom, or fuck off. She took a beating because she took a stand, and he fucked her anyway.
This, coming from a man who was filled with rage when he heard about the Nirbhaya incident. They had no right, he had said to his wife, over and over, shaking his head. And yet, he thought that marriage entitled him to use his wife’s body however he wanted, and therefore he felt entirely justified in hitting her. I am a good husband, I deserve good sex, he told her in the morning.
What bothers me is that this is not an incident that took place in isolation.
I grew up in a household where it was normal for mom to cook and clean even if she was unwell or tired. The children were her responsibility, too – and trust me the three of us didn’t make it easy. Dad would just come home and start making demands – tea had to be ready within five minutes of him asking for it, dinner had to be served at nine, and mom had to run from the kitchen to the bedroom (where he ate) with hot ghee-smeared chapatis on a small plate. Then she would clear his plate, and give him water. Next, she would serve us dinner. She always ate in the end.
Now, it would be unfair to let you assume that dad wanted hot chapatis. He said, hundreds of times, that he’d prefer it if all of us sat together and ate, but she kept doing it anyway out of a sense of duty. I remember him getting so, so angry because he had left some documents on the dining table and then couldn’t find them. Somehow, it was mom’s responsibility too – never mind that he had actually kept them elsewhere!
If mom was traveling for work, I was given clear instructions on what he does and does not eat, how much ghee he likes on his chapatti, and where I should keep his documents should he forget to file them.
See what I’m talking about?
In our culture there is an implicit assumption that men are somehow superior to women and they deserve good sex, hot food, an orderly house, and well-behaved children. Men, just because they are men, deserve female nurturance, whatever the circumstances, throughout their lives.
Think mother, sister, wife, daughter – we’re all just side actors in the story of a man’s life. He has prerogatives and we have obligations within the family structure. We exist only because He needs us.
Enough of this shit. Things change, TODAY. I’m letting my six month old son know as soon as he’s able to understand.
What about you?