I wrote this after I watched the move Thappad (Hindi) which left a deep, lasting impression on me. It’s about the insidious patriarchy that we see in today’s seemingly modern world. Would love to hear your views!
“Thoda Bardasht karna sikhna chahiye auraton ko.”
Which roughly translates to, ‘women must learn to tolerate some unfairness in life’.
A beautiful, poignant line which deftly brings forth so many elements of patriarchy to light. The line is from the Hindi movie “Thappad” which is rife with subtle nuances, and in my opinion, it is a movie you shouldn’t miss. The Protagonist, Amrita adeptly portrayed by Taapsee Pannu, is everything I promised myself I wouldn’t be. She relinquishes her career to become a homemaker and support her husband. She constantly reiterates that she wasn’t forced to do so, she made a choice. Her grace, poise, tolerance and empathy made me, a career driven workaholic, bow down in respect. Because I couldn’t do what she did, and it’s time we learn to admit and respect that.
Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. It deems men as the de-facto head of any social entity, and grants the primary decision-making ability to them. It assigns rudimentary roles of reproduction and child-care to the woman while the man is construed as the breadwinner of the family.
The year is 1925. A man aged 65, grey and withered, dies of respiratory illness, a common and well-known cause of death among his age bracket. A woman, with thick black hair, a graceful figure and a beautiful voice is also present at her husband’s funeral. She is told to step into the funeral pyre. Distraught and frightened, she pleads to be let go, but the elders say ‘You must be a dutiful wife, you should want to follow your husband to the afterlife’ And thereby her life, a basic fundamental right was not hers. It was claimed by her parents, when they attempted to suffocate her at 6 months, to be exempt from the burden of dowry, her husband, when he staked claim over body at 15, her in-laws who ushered her into the pyre at 30.
The year is 2020. While such barbaric acts are now protected by newly instated laws, the discrimination that fueled them still persists. Patriarchy is not as overt as it used to be, but today it is insidious, a phantasm that feeds on misconceptions, eventually haunting every aspect of our lives.
It is imperative to address the issue of the well-educated, seemingly progressive society, who live under the veil of equal rights, while still being shackled by the chains of history.
Do you fully support the idea of a woman being the primary breadwinner of the family?
Would you be happy if your wife was more successful than you?
Do you fully support the notion that men should contribute to household chores?
If you answered yes to all three questions, then you are the type of person who is poised to bring change in the community.
If you didn’t, that’s perfectly normal. Majority of the people, including women, don’t. However, I hope you recognize that we have to change the norm. Its important to recognize that true feminism isn’t about ‘overthrowing’ men.
It’s a plea for equality, in every spectrum of life. A plea, to banish gender roles and engage in true partnership.
And while men, most certainly are to blame, so are women. In fact, a big part of the insidious damage inflicted upon equality, is insinuated by women. Bad habits begin at home. Most mothers, ‘coddle’ and bring up men, differently than they bring up women. They teach them to dream big, to pursue strong professional goals and to scale great heights. While the woman is taught to endure, to be supportive, to be understanding. Thoda bardasht karna chahiye auraton ko.
Why should a woman be taught to tolerate and not a man? She is treated as ‘paraya dhan’, or someone else’s property, for she isn’t part of the family after marriage. Isn’t blood thicker than water?
A man’s professional success is lauded by family and neighbors alike, but a woman’s is hushed, for she should be taking care of the house, right? When push comes to shove, a woman is expected to lower her ambition so as to not bruise the fragile ego of the ‘head’ of the family. The mother, is the first teacher, and what she says, stays. The discrimination is so entrenched in the mind of parents, that they impart the same prejudice to their offsprings. And the vicious cycle continues.
The year is still 2020. It’s Amrita’s birthday and she wants to go out with her friends, and let her hair down. As the clock strikes 9, she panics. She has to be home soon, she has to feed her husband and in-laws. Her friend tells her, ‘Ignore his calls and have some fun, after all its just one day’. The guilt is gnawing at her insides. She hears the devil coo – ‘You are a bad wife, Amrita’. And she rushes home, just in time for dinner. A modern day Cinderella story, with one too many step sisters. Why should Cinderella be the one to conform? Can’t the step-sisters feed themselves?
Is it really too much to ask for?
I have witnessed this phantasm plague the generation that precedes me and am fortunate enough to be exempt of it. I implore the rest of my generation to be the catalyst for change. I envision a world where there are no assigned gender roles, where both ‘parents’ raise their children, where both ‘partners’ hold the roof up. A world where a man doesn’t ‘allow’ his wife to work, and a woman isn’t shamed if she can’t cook. Where, a man who buys groceries and bathes his children isn’t a ‘Super Dad’, just a dad.
To the men, wash some dishes, ask your partner how their day was, listen to her opinions. The time is up for saying, you are rooted in your ways. The time has come to have the difficult conversations.
To the women – do not tolerate any form of prejudice. Call it out. Be loud, be bold, make sure you are heard.
Bardasht karne ki koi zaroorat nahi hai.
Do you agree? Leave your views in the comments below!