Man Woman Bender : Is the Family Sham Dividing Instead of Uniting?

by Sneha Subramanian Kanta
(Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)

Families - let the change begin now...

Families - let the change begin now...

I've always believed that love is an amalgamation of companionship, a longing for each other and understanding in the real world. Far are the realities of life from what one sees in films; there is no dancing around the trees and dreamy song sequences playing in the background. If you ask me and the experiences I've seen of couples in love, it can hardly come close and move the distance.


India is a collectivistic culture and we like living in groups. Here, it is preferred when family takes priority over the individual thoughts and desires. If our serials (read: cultural commodities) are anything to go by; the gender roles still remain deeply patriarchal. Having studied women's literature and feminism in depth and having participated in debates and seminars regarding the same; I've come to the personal conclusion that feminism is not the real answer to negotiate or better still, contest this.

Family is the closest unit of our lives and perhaps the first identity of self that we get is through this institution. A lot of "us" is an eclectic mix of the sense we make through our experiences with the family. From an Indian perspective, as I can speak for myself being of that nationality; I'm appalled at the non-changing, deep ingrained gender roles that are still at play. I've heard from my friends and colleagues who have had a love marriage about the trials and tribulations they've had to face to be "accepted" by the in-laws. If I don't sound sarcastic, Chetan Bhagat has struck gold (once again) merely writing about a couple who come from "2 States" of India and their dealings with the family. Ekta Kapoor, a college dropout; runs an empire of billions only by making tearjerker saas bahu sagas! Since I've worked in the media and have interacted with people from the entertainment industry, I can vouch that the lady in question here would never adjust into the patriarchal "parivaars" (Families) that she portrays on television. Yet, never mind; does it matter?

Being a part of this new generation, I don't understand why there is no equality of purpose. I've always said this rather blatantly when I've had debate sessions in my class that a man is equally at pressure; if not more, from the family than a woman. We expect men to be earning machines which keep on giving women money. A son is not a "true son" until he does something monetarily. That said, I'm not at all emphasizing that families don't have a right to ask for money or expect it. But why measure the worth of a man only when he is earning? If the woman earns more than the man, why are the in-laws unhappy? Why do we still write "Fair", "thin" and "homely" when we post matrimonial advertisements?

Will these ever change? If they should, the change should begin from the families. A new bride should made to be felt welcomed to the house (since the custom of joint-families in India prevail). A man should not be judged by the wealth he has or the phone he carries. Whoever said beauty is not skin deep, take a bow!

Lets make the change, lets start today. Our families are the trend setters for tomorrow. A little sifting in mindsets wouldn't hurt!


Comments for Man Woman Bender : Is the Family Sham Dividing Instead of Uniting?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 09, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Man Woman Bender-Is the family sham dividing instead of uniting?
by: Eva Bell

This is a thought provoking article, Sneha.
We have been victims of social conditioning over centuries, and the bias is always against women. It is time for both men and women to tackle the problems you have mentioned, and change our attitudes towards each other, towards our famlies and society in general. Only then can we hope for a better tomorrow.

May 09, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
gender and family
by: vimala ramu

Yes, Sneha, you are absolutely right in your observations. As you have pointed out correctly, the inertial mindsets and the lethargy to change them are responsible in theory. But practically speaking, it is the fear of 'What would the relatives/community say?' is more responsibe when it rides over individual enlightened minds. What one needs is the courage to stand up to the mean comments and narrow visions.One should have courage of conviction. How many such can you find in a country teeming with superstitious,narrow minded and spineless citizens?

May 09, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstar
Thank you
by: Sneha

Yes, Absolutely, Vimala... The peer pressure is undoubtedly there and would continue to be; only, one should have the spine to call a spade a spade and understand these differences that dismantle definitions of man and woman. You for one, is an ardent exemplar of a believer in equality.

May 09, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstar
Thank you
by: Sneha

Thank you, Eva. Your feedback as always matters a lot to me. You have rightly pointed out that the change needs to come from within - - a lot of change in attitude and disposition. That is what is needed.

May 10, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Cahnge
by: Cdr RR Tyagi(Retd)

It was indeed thoght provoking. In my perception change is a permanent feature of life and time is one of the main factor.With so many other factors like Economy,technology, eductaion etc affecting change is coming faster than percieved. What was taboo 100 years ago is acceptable today and what is taboo today may be acceptable after 50 years. Any one who either does not accept the change or dis-regards it is on his/her peril.

May 10, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Sneha...
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

You article rakes up an important issue - the male and the female stereotypes. Women have to be homely, good at domestic work, submissive, should not talk or laugh loudly etc. etc. Men are judged by their pockets. In the capital, the status of a family is determined by the type of furniture the household has and the number of designer wears the householders flaunt.

If a man chooses to cry he is called sissy, a weakling and if a woman raises her voice she is aggressive and domineering.

It will take ages to come out of this mind mould perhaps. But with your post you have made a beginning by touching the wound when it is still raw.

Kudos!

While I do not know whether role reversal is a solution or a better alternative, we can surely be a little flexible in defining men and women and treat them as humans without the compartmentalizing them in a gender-centric role. I agree with you that the beginning has to be at the unit level - family.

May 10, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstar
Thank you
by: Sneha

Hello Uncle, thanks for your feedback. I completely agree with you that change is inevitable and at the end of the day, it is and should not be about one upmanship or one upwomanship for that matter but about equality of people! Like you rightly say, this gender discrimination should stop. Thank you once again for writing.

May 10, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstar
Thanks
by: Sneha

Dear Geetashree, you've so simply yet truly put in words societal created stereotypes for "men" and "women". You are absolutely right, the change should begin from the basic unit of the family - be it to the own son/daughter or to those who have an 'in-law' suffix! Thank you for writing such a detailed, well thought out comment. I love to hear from you...And yes, I forgot to mention; I did have a glimpse of what it means to be "rich" in the capital. Did you read Chetan Bhagat's 2 States? There's a scene in the novel which describes this fake outwardly show of wealth.

May 11, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstarstar
Yes Sneha...
by: Geetashree Chatterjee

I have read 2 States. Its one of CB's Books that I enjoyed reading.

May 11, 2012
Rating
starstarstarstar
Great
by: Sneha

Yes. Me too - the only book I enjoyed reading; perhaps because it describes my life experience too!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to As You Say.