In response to yesterday's post 'Not just a pair of jeans...' a commenter made some relevant observations. I realised my reply was becoming too long, so I am publishing it here as a post.
'Jeans symbolise more than just what she wore!
Tomorrow she could ask for more?
Ask to keep her girl-child?
Education and a right to work?'
You really think so? that the guy would have thought so much? Well, I quite don't agree. Above wouldn't have come to his mind as far as i Know.
He did not think so much. He is conditioned to believe that a woman must wear a certain kind of clothes, just like she must do many other things in a certain way - all decided by her elders and her in laws.
He also understood HE had the right and responsibility to make sure she 'behaves herself'.
He did not think of supporting her choice. I know of men who have done this. He did not think of walking beside her and showing he knows and he is with her on this. Generally, when a man stands by his wife, nobody says anything in India.
Have you read Gone With The Wind? How Rhett Butler supported Scarlett O'Hara? So you know why he's so popular with women : )
But this man has NO IDEA THAT THIS ADULT WHO IS HIS LIFE PARTNER has some rights. In fact she has the same rights as he does.
Why not? Because he has probably grown up seeing men disrespecting women and teaching them how to behave.
Maybe he has seen violence at home, and all around him. We take all this as normal, the Police did not even register a case against him.
This is just the way they live. And we have seen the result of such thinking? The lowest girl boy ratio does not happen in one day.
What he would have probably thought is about WHAT WILL OTHER ELDERLY PEOPLE THINK (MOSTLY ELDERS IN FAMILY, NEIGHBORHOOD), IF THEY COME TO KNOW THAT MY WIFE IS NOT A SARI-CLAD WOMAN, but someone who can wear Jeans ( still considered modern it most part of India, all non-urban places i.e ). This would probably give a bad name to me and my parents as well (part of his thought probably , not my comment :) ).
He must have thought all this.
And he felt responsible for making her behave-herself.
She an adult, a married woman, and she was shopping with her own parents! BUT A GIRL'S PARENTS ARE NOT ELDERS IN THIS COUNTRY!
Now the kanyadaan was over so now she is his to treat as he pleases.
Someone who is wearing jeans is considered modern? Okay. Tell me why? What is being modern and why this terror of a girl becoming 'modern'?
Does modern mean EMPOWERED? Maybe with a little more control over her personal life?
Modern enough to see that it was okay for him to be embarrassed about her wearing jeans but not okay for her to be ashamed of being married to a narrow minded violent invertebrate like him?
He did not THINK anything. He just knew, "Keep her in control.", "Don't let her go out of hand!".
Women are also forbidden from cutting their hair, they are called 'par-kati' or else they say she is sprouting wings and becoming too azad...
It's such fears that prevent parents from letting a girl go outside the city for higher studies .. 'What if she becomes modern? Who will marry her then?'
Or even, "She will be beaten everyday if she tries to be too bold/smart/independent."
So instead of empowering her to break free from such a system, they raise her to adjust to the system. That is why ...
When they do work the money goes to husband or in laws.
When she rebels in a small way by wearing JEANS the epitome of modernity, the act is seen as a threat.
Why is a girl's attitude towards her in laws expected to be different from a boys attitude towards his in laws?
This man beat their daughter while she was shopping with her own parents!! Look at our wonderful family values, and this social system that prevented her parents from taking that violent bully to the court!
Is it any wonder that nobody wants to have daughters in Haryana?
First mothers are treated like second class citizens, there is no closeness with husbands (obviously, which woman will care for or feel close to a man who behaves like her personalised Sri Ram Sena) - so they find all happiness in their Sons. It becomes a cycle, he is controlled - he is taunted (amongst other things) if he shows respect or concern for his own wife.
I know of this woman whose husband carried a hot water bucket to the bathroom for her to have a bath and he was actually given a big moral lecture, he was setting a bad example, he couldn't behave like this when his younger brother could see and might learn to behave like him!
So basically WHAT MADE HIM THINK THAT HE COULD MAKE SURE SHE BEHAVES LIKE A GOOD DAUGHTER IN LAW?
1. If the elders - only elders from his side of the family- did not like the way she dressed , why couldn't they speak to her?
2. He didn't even have to support her openly, he could have just left her alone.
We have issues with a woman having any say in her own life. The jeans are just a symbol. There are many other such restrictions. She must not wish to spend too much (if any at all) time with her friends for example.
It' s more about not letting her go out of control. About insecurities, selfish parenting, and inferiority complexes.
And trust me, the problem is not limited to a 'Man's bias against women'.
I agree it isn't a man's bias against women, I know many, many broad minded pro-equality men. But if a girl has an idea that the man hopes to control what she wears, then she has time to react.
If a man has no hassles with a girl wearing jeans, there's hope ... maybe,
1. He does not expect her to blindly obey all the elders in his family, (and if she is lucky... ) anymore than he will obey all the elders in her family.
2. He probably comes from a family where boys are not expected to control their wives and 'keep them on track'.
3. He probably knows that respect for elders does not mean you obey them blindly or live by their rules or make sure that a new & equal member in the family, (also an adult) is made to do the same.
For all this he will have to be intelligent. He will have to be able to think for himself, now what can be more charming than that :)
Please read about some very dear JKGs (Joru Ke Gulam) here :)
It is more deep rooted. I have heard women talk about someone else's Bahu wearing jeans and how they make a fuss about it.
Oh yes Chikki they do! They have been brought up to believe women must dress, behave, live in a certain traditional way.
Also they have few creative outlets, and many live insecure, unhappy, dissatisfied lives, ask and you will find they have suffered due to the same traditions they have been brain washed to uphold.
But their is a bitter feeling that they have been made to do it anyway, now why should some new girl come and try to change the system ...
Then of course some believe that since they are a boy's mothers, they have certain special privileges.
We Indians love power even if it is ill gotten. And I have seen many boys parents demanding respect, and total obedience. It is nauseatingly oppressive (even to watch).
It is many a girls nightmare, and unfortunately this and much worse nightmares keep becoming real.
How would you like to be in such a situation? With a family that doesn't really care for you, and wants to control every part of your life ... just think?
We are human and sometimes that can make us very inhuman!
Have you never heard such a woman from any woman?I really think, elderly women tend to be more fussy about this rule.
Oh Yes I have. But I have also seen that they are not fools. They understand when they are made to see that they cannot ask a young boy to make a young girl live like in a prison.
Once a husband is supportive, everybody else shuts up after a while.
I remember my mom would always wear a SARI when her Mother in-law (my grand mother ) would come home.On a normal day, she never wears sari and feels comfortable in salwar-suit.
But Salwaar kurta is not even Western. Doesn't that make you wonder if it is all about not letting a girl try anything new or modern? Isn't it amazing that girls are doing so well, despite the restrictive lives they are forced to live, at home and outside?
Some of my friends have this joke about going for a 'fancy dress party ' when they go visiting very orthodox in laws, they are compelled to wear the kind of traditional clothes they'd never otherwise wear. All in laws are not like this, which means those who want to change, do change.
And when their husbands visit their parents they are accepted the way they are, loved, pampered, treated with respect .... why should there be this difference?
Similarly, I know my cousin brother's wife (My Bhabhi ) would never wear jeans in front of her mother-in-law (my aunt), but would wear otherwise.
Do you think this is necessary? I am really glad she can wear it otherwise though.
In many families the rules are different for daughters and daughters in laws. I think that is the worst kind of hypocrisy I have ever seen.
I also know families where there is no such discrimination. There is genuine respect - no control and when everybody meets they actually have fun. There is no sense of forced duty in visiting your in laws ...
I guess its more to do with the fact that the older generation is just not ready to see their Daughters (not sons though ) wearing jeans.
Think why aren't they ready? Do they think Denim is expensive or they dislike the colour or they feel it is too Westernised? ... does it mean she is becoming too modern? Do they fear people will think she is going out of their control?
I have seen many strong mothers (read about some on the comments) who didn't care and the girls grew up without knowing jeans were considered 'objectionable'.
When I asked my mother if she did not face any such questioning, she said, "They know we are Westernised, and even your dad is cool with it, so nobody bothered."
Even if isn't always as simple, it's worth it. It's about something so personal, I can't imagine why what I wear should be anybody's business but mine...
Its not anything to do with "Tomorrow she could ask for more?. Trust me, best of families who don't mind their bahus going out and working, or have no problems with a gal-child whatsoever, will also object to her wearing jeans.
True. All families where girls wear jeans, may not be really broad minded, but in general, letting a girl- and even more, a daughter in law (!!!) dress the way she likes is a HUGE step forward for most Indian families. It symbolizes a lot more than just giving her the freedom to dress the way she likes.
So if a man says he is fine with his wife wearing jeans, at least the girl knows some thing about him.
When a man does not even 'allow' his wife to choose what she wears, she should think again!
Does he think it's okay for him to decide what she wears?
Then he might also think it's okay that her every step is watched and monitored by his entire family and extended family ...
There are way more chances then that he or his family will control all the other aspects of her life.
How many kids,
when to visit her parents,
what to cook for dinner,
which refrigerator to buy,
how much to spend on their kids' education
... she could be an MBA but Sons are raised to believe that a boys parents know best. (If elders were to be respected and obeyed then shouldn't the same rules apply to a girl's parents?)
Is this is not hypocrisy?
I really feel, you have portrayed wrong reasons.
Wrong reasons for why that man beat his wife? Does it really matter ....? Just think. Are there any RIGHT REASONS TO BEAT A WIFE?
Maybe his bigger worry was his elders' displeasure - then again what about her choice? Her own and her parents approval? Doesn't this one act of control mean she will do as she is told now onwards?
This family or this man with this one horrific act have summed up all (nearly) that is wrong with Haryana, and with India, and with our much glorified family values, culture and traditions, all being openly used for CONTROLLING some citizens.
The topic you have chosen is awesome, we should write about it.But you have messed up your analysis for sure.
LOL :) Whether or not a girl is allowed to wear the kind of clothes she likes - a pair of jeans here - symbolises how much freedom she has. If she cannot even control what she wears, how much freedom has she got?
And any man who thinks he has a right to tell her what she should, and what she should NOT wear, is likely to wish to control other aspects of her life as well.
I guess that as the generations pass, more and more people will be ready to accept their bahus in jeans.
So the girls should keep waiting for generations to pass?
I don't think anybody has a RIGHT to accept or not to accept!
Did this sound shocking? Does it sound rude when I say the elders have no RIGHT to accept or not to accept what their daughter in law does?
How does just age and just being from the boys family give any human so much authority over another human's life...???
It's up to the girls and indirectly up to their husbands - to make sure their wives are not forced to accept such cruel and stifling encroachment on their individual rights.
What they wear is too personal anyway.
I guess my mom will :-).And my Dad, he sure will, he's so much more liberal than my mom :).
:) And if they don't I am confident you will, with your excellent arguing skills , be able to make them see the other point of view :) If you choose to.
BUT TRUST ME,, AGAIN, THIS IS A BIAS AGAINST WOMEN NOT DONE ONLY BY MEN, WOMEN ARE EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS.
Absolutely. I agree :)