Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
Recently I was invited by a relative for a dinner at some newly opened restaurant. We went to their place and then we were supposed to go together for the dinner. Abruptly some guests arrived to their place. Everyone attended the guests and just after few minutes of usual conversation, the two ladies (daughter-in-laws) of the family went to the kitchen and started preparing dinner. While all the men were sitting outside discussing politics, weather conditions, demonetization and what not, ladies on the other hand were chopping, cooking, preparing, cleaning and arranging everything. The men, in-laws and elders didn’t even take the pain to come inside and ask if they needed help. Children were served, then all the elders and men. After so much of cooking and serving, they were hardly feeling like eating anything. After cleaning when they sat to eat the left-over, nobody served them or even asked if they wanted anything.
What happened that day disturbed me terribly. It happens almost in every second family in India. I have seen it many times before but I think may be now I am a much shrewd, susceptible and a mellowed person than before to sense the unjustifiable behavior with women around us. Why can’t men help women in kitchen? Why can’t they wait to eat with them? Why can’t the in-laws ask them to sit together and eat? Even at the end, why can’t someone serve them hot? How people around them, their own family, even their husbands become so negligent towards them?
A woman can never be a guest unless she is a mother-in-law or is at her mother’s house (as there is a daughter-in-law to serve her). Not only inside her house, she is expected to enter the kitchen even if she is a guest. The same thing is never expected from a man.
A woman is expected to do all the household chores like cooking, washing, cleaning even if she is coming after a hectic day from her job. She is asked to cook for everyone just because she is a daughter-in-law now. Where the hell on this earth it is engraved that the metonym of becoming a daughter-in-law is becoming a maid? She also wants to have hot tea with snacks on a rainy evening without cooking it herself. Why someone else can’t take the pain to cook at times?
Even if a man is willing to help his wife, he is interrupted by others in doing so. Lately, when my husband was helping me in kitchen, his grandmother told him to sit as it is not a man’s work to do. These things show the indigent mentality of Indian society.
When I acutely speculated about why the things are the way they are, I consummated that not the men, not the in-laws, not anyone in this world has the right to make you feel inferior, to take you for granted, to do any unjust to you but, ‘YOU’ yourself. You can't change others but you can definitely make them behave with you the way you want.
Its big time now we women need to change the things as they are. It’s high time this gender-biased society should change its parameters on which the women is judged and expected to serve.
I have also seen women who happily do everything without complaining as they are raised and taught that it is their duty to keep others before themselves, to sacrifice their wishes for their family, to work day and night to make others relaxed and enjoyable. But please stop doing it even if it doesn't affect you. You have to stop it for the sake of other women who are fighting for equal rights and for the sake of position of women in Indian society. Above all, you have to stop it for the sake of your own daughter. Don’t forget, she is watching you and you are her idol. Don't teach her that she is born to sacrifice, compromise and to serve others. Don't teach her that she is alive for other's sake. Don’t teach her that she can’t live according to her wishes and she has to take other’s wishes above hers. Raise a confident, self-assured and self-dependent daughter. The only way you can do it is to become an example to her yourself. There are few things you need to change right now:
1. Be the Guest: When you visit someone, let them host you. Don’t rush into the kitchen immediately. However, you can help them in serving. Insist the ladies to join you at dining. Ask your husband to take equal role in whatever you do. Also, be a great host when guests arrive at your place. Let those ladies be your guests as well.
2. Eat together: Always eat together with your family at your home. When you live in a joint family, hire a helping hand or ask everyone for equal participation in cooking and serving. Stop following the trend- ‘Men first’.
3. Don’t adjust always: It’s good to be nice to people but start thinking that you won’t do anything wrong with them and you will adjust for them in any situation. It’s very easy to play with emotions for adjusting person.
4. Ask for what you wish: It’s not a crime to ask your husband to make a cup of coffee when you come from your job. It’s not particularly a woman’s job always to make tea/coffee, special dish at a special occasion. You also have a right to sit and enjoy hot snacks without cooking it yourself. Work together with your family, divide everyone’s role or take turns. Whenever you are in no mood of cooking, plan going out for it. After a day of shopping or a movie don’t trouble yourself by preparing food at home. Sometimes eating outside is refreshing and you will also get quality time with your family.
5. Don’t strain yourself divide the work: When you don’t feel well tell others immediately. You don’t have to make yourself suffer and work. You are not a slave. A family is meant to help each other when needed. Also split the daily chores among your family members. Man sitting and watching television while a woman finishing the household work is inequitable.
6. Don’t forgive everything: If you don’t take much time to forgive everything, your loved ones won’t mind every time they make a mistake, they’ll keep on hurting you and take you for granted just because you enable them to. It’s not a way to be loved and respected. Never lose your dignity.
7. Be a decision maker: Don’t seek approval for everything. Decide things yourself and don’t postpone decisions. When others understand your inability to take decisions they will make it for you and take you for granted.
8. Respect yourself: Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior by saying anything they like. If you don’t like someone’s behavior tell them directly and make them feel that you are a person with self-respect. Don’t over-respect others or respect others more than yourself. If you don’t respect yourself, no one is going to respect you ever. The most important thing you can do is to value yourself. Only those who undervalue themselves are undervalued by others.
“Love yourself first and never let anyone take you for granted. They don’t deserve you if they don’t treat you the way you treat them.”