Man Woman Bender : Is the Family Sham Dividing Instead of Uniting?
by Sneha Subramanian Kanta
(Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
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!