A couple of days ago I woke up to my neighbor screaming obscenities at his wife. I checked my phone to see what time it was and was shocked when the display showed it was around four in the morning. From what I could gather from his loud monologue of sorts – I couldn’t hear the wife’s hushed voice, the wife had apparently done some banging around that had disturbed his peaceful sleep. And, in return, he thought it was alright to wake up half the neighborhood by his furious screams of how he would now feel groggy at work all day long because of disturbed sleep.
His wife, I know, wakes up super early because she has ailing in-laws, three children, and that mad husband to look after. She is one of those housewives for whom 24 hours in a day is just not enough. And yet, the husband chooses to overlook all this and use such harsh and dirty words that I had been in her place I would have left then and there and filed for divorce.
But I guess it’s not that easy, especially in our society where women are always told to compromise and if something goes wrong in a relationship it’s because of women’s inability to hold a family together. A while ago, during a wedding reception, this always angry man (as I’ve now come to refer him) was heard advising the groom on how to deal with his ‘woman’ and how to make sure she knows her limits, while his parents added that a virtuous daughter in-law was someone who could keep the family happy no matter what.
The funny thing is it’s not that these people are uneducated or anything. The man in question is a communications officer at a reputed corporate house. His parents are retired bankers. The wife too has a master’s degree. Their house has a staff of three including a gardener, and the children go to good schools.
If such people choose to behave like animals and think women are mere things that have to be controlled, I can only imagine what the scenario must be elsewhere in the country where women are at the lowest rung of the family ladder. In my family too, I have heard many women complain about how they have to bear the brunt of their husband’s anger on a daily basis and how they choose to let it go and not affect them.
Maybe that’s the problem – the fact that women choose to let go and abide by the rubbish motto, forgive and forget. Maybe if women weren’t as forgiving the situation would be different. I have seen many cases where the women refuse to tolerate even the smallest illogical thing and it seems the men here are more conscious of their words and actions. When the women make it clear that they will not tolerate any sort of behavior just because they are women, the men behave accordingly.
We tend to blame the men for women’s plight not realizing that more often than not women make it easy for the men to act up. Our culture, tradition, and society teach women to be subservient and many don’t know that there’s a way of life based on partnership, and even if they do know, rebelling is not that easy. This puts men on a pedestal and gives them liberties they otherwise would not have.
A friend of mine has been married for nine years. She works in an NGO and is quite a savvy lady. Looking at her you wouldn’t think that by the time she reaches office at sharp 9:30 am, she has been up for almost five hours and cleaned the house, cooked food for her family, washed the dishes, and prepared snacks for tea-time as well. When she gets home, she has to start preparing dinner even before she changes out of work clothes.
She doesn’t need to do all that. She could simply tell her in-laws that she can’t do so much around the house and hire someone to take care of the household chores. But no, she continues to do it to this very day while cribbing about it every chance she gets. She can’t bring herself to voice her opinion and not do what is expected of her even when she believes it is wrong to expect so much from someone just because of their gender because going against an old norm is anything but easy.
From what I’ve seen, many women even today get into relationships where the scale is already tipping in somebody else’s favor right from the start. Initially, they might think things will change once they are married, but if anyone or anything changes after marriage, it is almost always the woman and her circumstances. Think about it, you go live in somebody else’s house. Who needs to adjust and adapt? Change starts right then and there.
I’m not saying staying single is the solution, though at times that does seem ideal. But by the time we start asking for equality in the household, it’s too far gone and can seldom be rectified and, that too, only to a certain extent. So instead for asking for special women quota at colleges and universities, reserved seats in buses, and equal treatment at work, maybe we could start at home and not bow down just because of our ‘woman’ status. If you aren’t respected at home which is where your roots are, how can you expect respect anywhere else?