Thursday, 30 October 2014

Women...Wives... and Men!

This is the 14th article in the culture series

A business meeting - and a pointed comment or observation by a business person {well, ok - a man} that deserves a mention... "Men will look for 6000 - 8000 Rs Phones for their wives, but go for a 50000 value super premium for themselves". This was a comment that left us listeners momentarily stunned, but in total agreement.... I recounted this to my wife, who also agreed wholeheartedly. 

In itself, it is a perfectly innocuous comment; a simple observation of male attitude, intermingled with the Indian reality that in most cases, the male is the earning member - and thus may {or may not} have differing needs that necessitate a higher-cost phone. The point is not whether those so-called differing needs dictate a super-premium mobile phone; the point is the expression of attitude. The point is that the male does not consider his partner in life for things that he can use.. the possibility of  both using 25000 value phones {example} does not even enter into the male mind even for a moment, by and large.   

This is not an article about female infanticide, or any of the other serious issues plaguing our society. Neither is it an article about eve-teasing or any other crime against Women. This is an article about our attitude towards Women in general, and how we treat them. Further, at no point do I attempt to make a direct link between crimes and these attitudes. I am just chronicling a series of incidents that have occurred in my life, or those which I have observed. My only objective : to make people think. That's it. There is nothing else that can be done; 

It was just after my marriage, and I had returned to my residence. Let us leave locations aside; all of us are Indians. I was asked by someone - "How much did you get"? Me : "Nothing". They : "Then the girl's family was more powerful". Me : "No". This is the most serious of the incidents I am going to recount here. Look at this attitude-  the assumption that the boy must get something. 

Why, may I ask? If I am my parents' child, so is she. {My wife}. If my parents love me, so do her parents love her. If  I am marrying, so is she. In point of fact, she is leaving her home and all she has known - even her name - behind; for you. For both of you, so that you can come together and build a home and a family together. So what makes the Boy's family more  powerful, or the people in the driver's seat? It is a joint affair.  But that is the way it is, even among the educated. 

I have heard some of the most amazing comments from even highly educated and well-heeled persons, earning in the top income brackets, voice views that have stunned me. I recall a person who I heard advising someone who had just had a massive fight with his wife - give her a slap! Several people {more than several, in point of fact} have said in my hearing - wives should be put in their places, her place is in your bed, your home, your kitchen : as though she is your property!

It is not my point that these people treat their wives badly : they dont. In the large majority of cases - like 98% {guesstimate}, the people referred above actually are very considerate with their partners, and do take care of them. Sure, they are dominating; but they are also caring. Very caring indeed. But decisions are all taken by the male, period. In fact, in some cases, they actually treat them like kids, doing every little thing so that the ladies do not have to do anything in their absence. But they dont share decision making responsibilities, by and large, basis observation. 

But the key point in all the incidents above is the attitude involved : the treatment of women as secondary to the male, as pointed out in that slap statement, or in that statement of putting wives in their places, or in the mobile phone example. You call her your wife; you call her your life partner - but do you treat her as your partner? Or do you treat her as your property, or an immature kid, or someone to be mollycoddled? 

A wife is primarily a woman; a person who has been brought up in love by a loving family. She is a human being with equal rights within your home as well as your life. But this article also isnt about you males, as the title clearly states, with the emphasis on Wives and Women clearly indicates. It is about something that needs no elaboration. That "something" is something that only women can answer. And that something is an observation by a woman, which I happen to agree with totally. It was an observation that left me stumped and without answer.. 


"Women are the ones who are also responsible for this"

This is an observation that is pregnant with possibilities, and dangers - but also opportunities. It calls for a more active woman, a more demanding woman- a woman who is a true equal to her husband - even though she may be only a housewife. It calls for an entire set of behaviours at have the potential to change our society for the better...

For, simple observation also tells me that even an equal partner does not mean marriages break down - having seen several genuinely equal couples. But yes, it does call for a complete crushing of the super-inflated male ego. Further, it is also a manifest fact that the woman is actually stronger, capable of an entirely different approach to problems, and has a capacity to withstand pain and pressure which the male cannot even dream of. 

Zaraa Sochiye... 

These are the vows taken by the male in a Marathi marriage ceremony : 

Saptpadi - the seven steps (taken from the internet; but from memory, these seem to be about right... )

Vows to be taken by the groom :

1. We will share the responsibilities of the house, food and finance together. May God bless us with children and may they have long lives. 

2. You are only my beloved wife. I will love you and only you. I give commitment will provide strength and courage to you, my wife, always. 

3. The third step is for the growth of prosperity and wealth, and to educate their children . 

4. In the fourth step he thanks his wife for bringing auspiciousness and sacredness in his life. 

5. In the fifth step may the Goddess Mahalaxmi (Deity of Prosperity) make us prosperous and God bless us. 

6. In the sixth step the groom promises the bride that he will fill her heart with great joy and peace, time and time again.

7. This is the last and final step. Here the groom tells his bride that as you have walked seven steps with me you have made our love and friendship firm and inseparable. Now you have become mine and I offer my total self to you. May our marriage successfully last forever.



This was thought of several thousand years ago... 

Have we evolved as males? Or have we Devolved? Hard Words... too hard perhaps... but I hope I got you to reconsider... 

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