My Indian mother-in-law’s mantra is “Men should be taken care of by his mother till marriage and by his wife after marriage, and live araaaaaaam se (at ease). They should not do any ‘trivial’ things”. She professes this with an unclouded and ecstatic face, with a strength of absolute faith. Other people there also believe this (or those who don’t believe it keep quiet). I feel like saying “Sorry for keeping it from you, but I'm from Mars”. But it's no use because she would tell the same mantra even to a person from Mars once the Martian gets married to her son!
I understand the background of her faith, and I won’t try to change her. But I need to make her understand that I don't have the same faith.
Thus, my guy was brought up like a prince. He has a good friend in Mumbai from a similar background, and their behaviours make me laugh since they are so alike. When some accident happens, e.g. they see a cockroach or a lizard at home, or spilt something, or a water started leaking from the ceiling - they first call out someone and shouts “So-and-so is happening!”. I’d say “Roger, now think what to do and fix yourself na, you’re not 5 years old”. In their family, maybe all they had to do was to shout, then their mum/sisters/sisters-in-law would rush over and fix the issue (while these guys just telling how to do behind the women).
The awesomeness of my guy is that he understands that their way is not the only/best way in the world, and tries to change what he thinks he should change. Now we’ve found the comfortable line to share housework. And I am not excellent at doing my part often/properly enough, I fully admit.
The other day this trilogy ads of Van Houten Japan, to be precise the 2nd one, made me laugh. Japanese guys are also like this!
As for gender equality, Japan is ranked the lowest among ‘developed countries’. But in India, as far as I observe,
- The demographic who don’t question about ‘women’s role’ is bigger.
- The pressure to share the same value in ‘the community’ is very high.
- Politics is involved very blatantly.
- The sanction to those who went against the value is far over the limit.
and so on, hence there are more people who can't even think about expressing their doubts.
Furthermore, from the history of colonisation, there is a vastly-spread dogma that assimilating Western idea is always bad and destroys Indian traditions, though some of the traditions are based on the sacrifice of women. It is highly used politically. But it is a sensitive issue since some great traditions are indeed in danger to disappear.
I don't think geographical or educational factors don’t really make difference in the mindset. The view of the 'nice' people who are not proactively-anti-feminism expose in conversation unconsciously. For example, when one asks “what do you do with meals?” to a couple (the wife is a foreigner) who live alone together, one asks only to a half of the couple – female. I always answer “BOTH HE AND I hate cooking, so we hire a cooking person”.
I have been cooking to keep myself alive since my university days. But I don’t want to spend time and effort for cooking due to my disinterest in food. And my guy has never been taught cooking by his mum. Hence, if he wants to have Indian home food, either we should hire someone or he should practice cooking.
In this BIBA ad, the boy's mother talks very proudly that her son cannot cook AT ALL. Bringing up a son like a prince, giving zero chance to do ANY housework, is the pride of traditional families, I learned. This ad raised a question about that value and succeeded in that sense.
Including women and me, everyone gets brainwashed since birth by parents and society. If the parent’s/parents’ value is different from the society's, the child can start doubting the society norm early, but otherwise, the child would believe that the social norm is absolute. To get rid of that belief and to stop feeling guilty, you need extra effort. When you feel something’s not right in tiny incidents in your daily life, you need to express yourself verbally, otherwise, the other person (with that 'absolute' value) would never realise that his/her value is not absolute.
To protest in public places and to express yourself to your own family and people around you are equally important. Also, ‘small’ ‘trivial’ injustice in daily life and rape culture are all connected based on one value – to see women as an inferior gender, the gender who should serve men and be used by men.
Thanks to the internet, I can be exposed to the super cool works by super advanced and intelligent 3rd/4th Wave Feminists. I admire them from the bottom of my heart and am learning from them every day.
Though I myself am a feminist fossil who hasn’t developed much after the 2nd Wave Feminism, I observe things in daily life from my place as a foreign (autocratic and green-blooded) wife and will talk with you little by little. I would appreciate very much if you join the talk.
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