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?
13 thoughts on “Okay, I’m done with this shit.”
Ana! Welcome back! I condemn all those who think women are their slaves. That said, it is important to remember that even 50 yrs ago work outside the home was very physical and dangerous. Women did not often do it because it was critical that they take care of the kids for the kids to survive. It was a rougher time.
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Thanks, Paul. /The question is not why women don’t fight back – it’s why men assume it’s a right and not a privilege. Even if women are staying home to look after kids, it’s division of labor, and men aren’t doing them any favors, right?
Excellent point Ana.
It’s shitty. I’ve seen it in my family where women are obliged to do stuffs for the male patriarch head. This madness should stop and we need to pitch for equality, not elitist soft talks when someone is sexually assaulted or raped. This stupid Indian culture all over the globe, where Indians stay. And, we are so proud of our culture to give males an ego boost.
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You’re absolutely spot on! I’m making this change in my home. Are you?
I don’t know how it is to grow up in this culture but looking at it from a distance is heartbreaking. This humiliation and not having a voice is terrible. But then again I am sure that there are others too within the same culture who show respect and appreciation… heck love for their wives. In the end, it is about the individual if it wants to hide behind a seeming cultural attitude or takes responsibility for their actions!
Not so long ago it was not much different here. Some men are learning now that women have rights too. It is up to us teach our daughters that they should not put up with abusive behaviour and teach our sons that they should always treat their wives and all women with respect and kindness.
I agree that our society has been patriarchal but I don’t think it’s the man’s fault. I think it’s predominantly ours. Just as you said, your Mom insisted on giving him hot chapatis. It’s the women who alone can fix it. And fix, we must, by standing up and being vocal of our pains and sorrows to the men in our families. There’s no condemning required, I think. Just a realisation to the other side that ‘the perfect home’ comes at a great cost n hard work, to us.
I agree that male dominance is mostly perpetrated by us women because we insist on being the “good wife” and the “good bahu” and the “good daughter” even when the men in our lives would be okay with a lot less. I don’t think condemnation is the way to go, either. I am just insiting on me making the hard stop here, with my son, and I hope more women do so, too.
I grew up in the (Indian) culture. Happily, my dad was never this way. Lest those of you from outside of India get the wrong impression, I don’t completely agree with Ana’s totally negative attitude. Sure there is some male domination (isn’t it almost all over the world), but I have seen plenty (really, plenty) of families where everyone shares responsibilities and treat each other with sensitivity.
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Sorry, your comment ended up in spam for some reason. Sorry if I came across as totally negative; it wasn’t my intention.
I have seen truly equal families; I live in one. But those are a minority compared to the multitude that is still following patriarchal norms. Sometimes the signs are obvious, and sometimes they’re subtle, but I can see them in most families around us. Of course we’re slowly inching towards equality, at least in urban India.
First of all, wonderfully written. This sense of servitude and inferiority among women is deeply rooted in their own culture and upbringing. Women themselves have to shake away from this mentality and take up a stand. Only then we can see that change happening.