I know a woman, R, my grandmom’s age who had 6 daughters and a son, who was the youngest. She wanted her daughters to be happy. So, she prayed that all the daughters have a son as the first born child. She said she didn’t want to go through all the “pressure” the society put on her. She was fed up of the society calling her “Mom of 6 girls”, before she got a son. She herself believed that sons are “old-age-support” and daughters are “no return upon investment”. She did not mistreat her girls per se, instead, “raised them right” by leading them to believe they will get married and go to their sasural, where they need to get the “best bahu award”, by winning hearts and taking care of everybody there. She has great satisfaction of being “nice” to her daughters, for being able to arrange traditional weddings for each one of them and for having the “good fortune” of kanyadaan.
She is the Indian mother of the 50’s, who we see around as a contented grandmom, telling epic tales of how each and every daughter got married. Here are the sins she committed towards the society:
1. Preference for a gender based on roles that she assigned to her children.
2. Assumption that it’s the son who is going to care for her.No responsibility given to daughters. (No wonder she prides about being nice to the girls, in spite of zero return on investment)
3. Though used derogatorily on her,the term ‘Mom of 6 girls’ was a fact. There was nothing to be ashamed of, had she chosen not to assign gender roles.
4. Passing on her bias to her children and further contributing to the gender bias in the society.
5. Assumption that a daughter is an object of the household that is a “donation” (yes, that’s what “daan” means) to another household.
One of her daughters X, had an abusive mother-in-law. She was told by R to “adjust” in her new home. That abuse was supposedly just a “test” for good marriage. The daughter adjusted so much that intermittent lack of abuse from her mother-in-law was considered an act of great kindness. Isn’t this Stockholm syndrome? On X’s 25th marriage anniversary celebration, the mother-in-law complimented her on her saree and performed a couple of rituals to get rid of the evil eye (nazar utarna). This was considered the greatest benevolence of all times and “all the hard work of adjustment has paid off” started doing the rounds. Imagine 25 years of abuse to get this ultra-prestigious award!
Am I the only one here who finds this ridiculous?