What happens to smart, educated, financially independent women that they get played up by their parents-in-law to sabotage their entire being? Get scarred for their lifetimes?
Look anywhere, any nation, any civilized society, and examples would be found easily enough. More so if the nation is developing or if the class is middle-middle. Doesn’t this ring bell for all married women across the globe for better or worse?
Women who were smart once, who could run their lives with full confidence, get easily enslaved by these self-proclaimed Demigods. I am not even talking about women susceptible to easy maneuvers.
What is it that makes the gang-of-parents-in-law read mothers-in-law read monsters-in-law get the best of these smart flamboyant women so easily?
Somehow, I see the connection with the social fabric. All the stages and important events that are made to matter for a woman are meant to make her believe that ways of society are impenetrable and far superior to actual law. Let us look at them with a close lens.
Upbringing – the pre-defined role
Girls right from their youth especially in developing countries are trained to please parents-in-law at any cost. They are told time and again how their desires can only be fulfilled post-marriage if they keep gang-of-in-law happy, forget about the only husband or immediate family but the entire clan. “Pleasing nasty gang-of-in-law” is made one and only duty of a girl’s life. This is completely hardwired in their brains that they by default start taking this gang as the final and only decisive authority on all issues of their lives. Both parents and relatives are completely responsible for this situation. The majority of girls are never able to find fault in this mechanism and accept their fate. The rebels find it no easy to break free from this set notion.
Social conventions – the melodrama of keeping a family close-knit
The actual close-knit families in developed nations believe in staying close by in their own accommodation to get together on all important occasions, festivals, events and not close enough to interrupt the flow of personal life on a daily basis.
Now let us look at how “close-knit-family” operates in developing nations like India. Close-knit family here is the one that stays together, eats together, baths together, sleeps together, laughs together, cries together, dramatize together. To conclude a family that intrudes each other’s space together-together. A family that knows no bounds to intrusion. A family that constantly pries your personal life. A family that believes in the non-existence of couple boundaries save alone personal.
So, a girl is brought up to keep this closely-knit family even closer post-marriage and for some reason entire burden of keeping peace at any cost in the family is dumped on her. For some reason, the onus of relationship dynamics of this close-knit family, especially of the boy with his parents, is projected to be the girl’s responsibilities. So, if anything goes wrong then the girl is to blame. To keep sanity in the house, to maintain dynamics of the relationships she has to learn ways of her new family which are completely dictated by the Demigods of that abode i.e. her mother/monster-in-law or even worse parents-in-law. She is tutored to dance around mother-in-law, accept verbal abuse, put up with domestic violence and harassment of all kinds silently.
The most important way of life in a close-knit family is to please gods all the time at any cost so that they do not wreck-havoc on the relationship of the couple. This confuses newly wedded women to the extent of making them insecure about their decisions all the time. Insecurity and a plead for approval become very foundation of a couple’s relationship. At many places, a couple is not even able to see that parents-in-law constantly stand between them. Even by any stroke of luck or self-analysis or bitter experiences if a woman is able to figure this out than it is almost next to impossible to make her man see the dynamic of their relationship. After all, why would his lovely parents want to control their relationship? This makes a woman even more insecure who neither has gang-of-in-law nor husband to her side. Not to forget these women are just prepared to serve close-knit families not deal with life through financial independence.
You, of course, cannot stay in a separate house/apartment if you happen to work for living within a 50 km radius of the original abode of Demigods. You have to live with the parents giving illusions of a happily close-knit family sacrificing your desires and relationship because that’s the code and who can this outsider be to re-write the code?
Marriage – the only sacred event of life
I read it somewhere that, “Indian society is in-law dominated” and I find it quite true looking at the condition of married women where they need the approval of entire in-law clan for fulfilling simplest of their desires. I think I can safely extend this to all developing nations going through my research. What and how events of marriage go are completely dictated by the groom’s side. No one cares what the bride’s side of the family wants what if they bear the entire cost of the wedding; spending savings of lifetime for this event which too is wrong, but I would rather save it for another blog. Talking about the culture of a couple planning their own wedding would be completely futile here after all that only happens in first world nations that have reached the pinnacle of understanding and respecting individuality.
A marriage is a culmination of cultures from two families. Ideally, a newly-wed couple should begin their married life separately so that they may spend time to understand each other and the dynamics of marriage but this is not considered normal looking at close-knit family tradition as if the only life goal of a daughter-in-law is to take royal heir away who are not royals 99.9% of the times. This proposal rather brings wreckage on a woman by bringing the title of home-wrecker if she wishes to spend time with so-called life-partner, after all, she is married to the entire clan, not the prince charming.
Final bridal tutorial to put up with Demigods – A survival kit
A social conditioning of years during upbringing isn’t enough. Girls are put on a fast-track-crash-course to adopt best practices of killing their individuality to achieve one of the only two goals of their lives as DILs. And here no prizes for guessing what those goals are, one obviously being the best clown out there to entertain clan-of-in-law and second is to pop out a baby as speedily as possible on the pretext of so many biological and social reasons.
All rituals revolve around making mother-in-law read monster-in-law feel like a queen who has won herself yet another personal slave. I mean why…why most Indian mothers-in-law are so ugly towards their daughters-in-law? I know there are exceptions and I have seen both.
The ugly mother-in-law dictates all rules of the house, chaperones the DIL making her believe that she has no individual human rights. Daughter-in-law is further doomed if both parents-in-law are partners in the crime.
I am not even starting on the role of daily prime time soaps and movies that somehow teach women to give in to prove that goodness wins over evil just by believing that this would happen one day automatically, and people would see how good that innocent daughter-in-law is. This doesn’t happen in real life. All that happens is that after years of resentment and conditioning these same young women turn into their own ugly mothers-in-law when their time arrives. This becomes the usual, cultural and only right way of treating new woman in the family. After all, why should the new generation have it anyway different?
This entire above set of events makes women believe that their parents-in-law are the only people that matter. They become her spoken/unspoken court-of-law or rather are made as if she was an object whose ownership exchanged hands post-wedding.
These women accept and believe in the authority of gang-in-law without questioning the rules, regulations, double standards set to make their lives unbearable. What these rules are set up for? For whose benefit? Why do in-laws get to regulate the life of an adult or a married couple? Nobody wants to question and find the root cause to change.
The only answer is that it runs in the culture. Well, then this is where it must stop running any further.
Time to change. No woman needs any one’s approval to lead the kind of life that she wants, the way she wants to run her house whether financially dependent or independent. She does not need to make any relative her court-of-law unless qualifies.
There is a reason that the judicial system is in place, where people are appointed when they qualify. If you do need to take your issues to a court then do take them to the actual judicial court, the one that really matters, where well educated, experienced and qualified judges sit and hear both sides non-partially, where you are treated as a human, where you can practice your individual rights for a fair trial.
I have said it quite often that legal language is the only true language and I couldn’t emphasize enough that how important is it to understand when and how people bend legal language to social to suit their ways and become your court-of-law.
Remember, anyone has power over you only by the time you allow them to. Should you need, go to the real court than giving this power to anyone around who doesn’t deserve it. This would keep the sanctity of the legal institutions intact, depriving anyone that final and legal authority over you.
Remember no one rules you but you. I wish this was the main theme of life tutorial for girls right from the beginning. But who says wishes can not come true.