What’s holding women back?

Recently, I have been accused of being jealous of the “success of another woman”. Jealousy is something almost all women and men would have experienced and been accused of, so it’s really not that big of a deal. However, I believe that the rationale behind these specific accusations reflects a very harmful trend that currently prevails, both among men and women in India. Artificial, imagined and imposed standards of success, which form the main basis for these accusations, are also the prime reason that today holds many women back from enjoying the simple, natural pleasures of being a woman, a mother and a human being.

 

Just to give a background, I have a pretty good academic resume, with educational accomplishments in India and broad. I have many natural talents and skills that have come of use to me at different points in time. I have a lot of resilience, which helped me during the toughest times in life. I have received more public and media attention than most people I personally know, and more than I had ever needed or asked for. I also hold the distinction of navigating and freeing myself from the clutches of the criminal justice system in India in record time, without compromising on any ethics. I am also known for my contributions to bigger causes which attempt to make the society a better place for us and the next generation.

 

What makes me most proud though, is the fact that despite all the feminist propaganda I was exposed to when I was younger, and despite all my unfounded doubts and fears, my intelligence served me well (and luck favored me equally) to ensure that I didn’t miss the bus. What gives me the greatest joy and satisfaction is being the wife of a fantastic man and the mother of a sweet child. Yes, “wife” and “mother” and the two titles that make me most proud and happy.

 

Compare this to a  woman who barely has any academic accomplishments to speak of, who settled criminal charges against her for money, whose sense of self-worth is determined by the number of likes on her (selfie) profile picture on social media (which must change at least every fortnight if not more often), who chases pleasure and fame by selling other people’s tears in name of social service, and most importantly who is past 30, single and childless.

 

I know that a lot of people don’t want women to be judged anymore by their marital status and whether or not they have children. However, a lot of men and women now seem to be doing the exact opposite. They are inadvertently caught up with money and fame as universal measures of success, and worthy of envy. They seem to not only chase money and fame (often at the expense of everything and everyone else in life) in order to be considered successful, but they also expect everyone around to care about their imagined “success” just as much as they do. They ignore and deny women who derive the most joy and satisfaction from family.

 

I cannot speak for men, but I am quite certain that this attitude has been holding many women back from living fuller lives. It holds them back from putting family first, from fully experiencing motherhood, and from loving and giving unconditionally. It holds them back from being empathetic to other human beings. It holds them back from upholding important human values and responsibilities. These false measures of success are eroding the self-esteem and dignity of women, and pushing them into living suboptimal lives.

 

I will not pretend that I am immune to jealousy, but there is nothing to be jealous of what I personally consider a suboptimal life. If you show me a woman who had married sooner, has a bunch of children, is spending more time with them, and playing with them more than I am with mine, yes, I will be jealous, and nothing will hold me back from admitting it.

 

 

Breaking the silence against imposed “martyrdom”

During the last few months, there has been a wave of praise in the mainstream and social media for an Indian documentary film on IPC section 498A entitled “Martyrs of Marriage”. The filmmaker, Deepika Bhardwaj, has been extolled not only for technical excellence in filmmaking, but has also been elevated as the messiah for men. Recently, there has also been an expected, well-justified and visible pushback from the men’s movement in India, because the movie is anachronistic, it promotes a feminist lie, misrepresents men’s rights activists (MRAs) and undermines the men’s rights movement (MRM), which provided much support, information and content for the film.

 

The perspective of the men’s movement and the reasons for the pushback require a close look at the history, significance and purpose of the men’s movement, and the factual narrative that Indian MRAs have fought to establish over the last 10-13 years. It would involve learning, in depth, about why IPC 498A is a malicious law and not a law made to save lives as claimed by the film. People who are not interested in this academic exercise are bound to look to the documentary film as an authentic source of information, representative of MRAs and the entire length, breadth and depth of the MRM.

 

I would urge everyone to make the effort to know more about the MRM, MRAs and why they would vehemently oppose the only film which claims to give them a voice and show their side of the story; and why MRAs would oppose a filmmaker, who is sympathetic towards a men’s issue, becoming the face of the MRM and the “voice of men”.

 

To this end, I will direct the attention of the readers towards certain crucial but invisible aspects that do not require you to have any background in the MRM, but just require basic human intelligence to understand.

 

Every person who is arrested and imprisoned based on a false complaint goes through a phase where they are dying to scream out to the world that they are not criminals. They are stigmatized in the society, they are vilified by the media, and pushed into a corner so much so that the only thought that dominates the person’s existence is the need to NOT be identified as a criminal. There are many who experience the need to be identified as victims, and they want their personal narrative to be heard by someone, especially by those who hold the power to influence the social and political narrative, such as journalists, filmmakers, celebrities and politicians.

 

However, victimhood is an affliction suffered by but a fraction of individuals who are implicated in false cases. Unfortunately though, individuals and entities that control the narrative do not understand that a need to “not be identified as criminal” does not automatically translate into a “need to be identified as a victim”. As a result, even sympathetic journalists and filmmakers impose victimhood and martyrdom on everyone because victimhood sells, and is seen as the only way to bring attention to problems.  

 

This kind of victimhood is a state of mind, and it does not have anything to do with what life throws at us, false cases included. MRAs who have counseled hundreds of affected men observe that “men carrying victimhood for long periods of time works like an addiction which eventually destroys them. MRAs also feel that fostering or nurturing perpetual victimhood in victimized people is a feminist recipe and does not bode well for any society”. Over the last 10 years, MRAs have worked very hard to exctricate men from this sense of victimhood, to empower them to stand up for themselves, and to take responsibility for changing not just malevolent laws like 498a, but the overall social mindset which sees males as disposable.

legal terrorism

When a person does not wallow in victimhood, it is assumed that they are either culpable or that they do not experience any pain. It takes much time and struggle to gather the voice to deny criminality, to maintain the resolve, and fight to the finish to establish one’s innocence in the courts of law. Every person who has walked out of the court after hearing the words “acquitted” knows the feeling of taking a full breath of air, walking with their head held high, with the kind of satisfaction and joy that the heart does not seem enough to hold.

 

Everyday, the mainstream media keeps declaring innocent people as criminals without trial for the sake of political correctness and ratings. To those who have experienced it, acquittal means restoring one’s honor and dignity, even though one may have lost many years, dear ones, life’s savings and all the things one has given one’s life to. It is such a profoundly liberating experience, that the voice, which for many years, wanted to scream “I am not a criminal”, now wants to scream “I won” until the sound of vindication reverberates all over. MRAs have always fought, worked hard to empower and encourage others to fight, to demonstrate that we are real people and not mere numbers or data points in the National Crime Records Bureau. However, the voice of the acquitted is never heard because the mainstream media chooses to be deliberately silent about them.

acquitted cropped

As a fellow MRA rightly pointed out to me, given the status quo, “a journalist independently gaining the trust of people who have been victimized by 498A is difficult, and to make them to open up to any publicity via documentaries is even more difficult”. When a journalist comes along, claiming to want to make a film or write about us, members of the movement are always inclined to project individuals who have won their cases to narrate their stories. This is because a person who is still fighting a trial always fears a backlash from his opposition, the police or the court of law. He or she does not want to take the risk of being disbelieved or ridiculed by others because an individual’s story is not considered credible unless their cases have ended in acquittal.  

 

Therefore, when the documentary filmmaker in question approached the Indian MRM for interviews of affected individuals, she was also directed to meet individuals who had been acquitted some years ago. Revisiting profound personal tragedies, many years after the fact and years after acquittal is an ordeal in itself, and not something anybody would want to do. However, MRAs, who chose to take one for the team, reluctantly opened up to the filmmaker who promised to highlight these stories as those of hope and triumph to inspire others to fight. MRAs unravelled personal details to demonstrate that they are normal people, just as vulnerable as anyone else, and traced their own journey to victory, in parallel with their activism in the MRM to inspire everyone to be “that second mouse”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51lFmdChOA0

 

When these detailed accounts of gallant fight are edited, placed out of context and shown as stories of plight, and the filmmaker uses her film and her public image to promote victimhood, to become the face of MRM and the “voice of men” by lie of omission, one is bound to feel violated. The filmmaker silencing MRAs, by playing the victim card against them is an additional violation that needs to be overcome. Under such circumstances, it takes much time, effort and thought to gather the voice to say “I am not a victim”, and to initiate a meaningful conversation around the important issues concerning MRAs and the MRM. The struggle to deny this imposed martyrdom is just as emotionally excruciating as the one to deny imposed criminality.

 

It is important to recognize that there is little difference between journalists painting us as criminals for TRPs and filmmakers misrepresenting MRAs as victims just to make the cut in their career.

 

In this context, it is also important to look at how different individuals who approach the movement identify themselves in very different ways. Many individuals approach the movement for help, but always remain aloof as individuals, see themselves as unique in their hardships, feel entitled to support and help, look for a quick fix and an easy exit. They are the victims looking for a messiah, preferably in female form. In their myopic view, anybody, even a filmmaker, who can offer them a temporary vicarious experience and fleeting hope for change, is a savior. These victims would be willing to let a whole movement and the collective hard work of all the MRAs who dedicated their lives to it, be sacrificed on the altar of their personal desire for quick relief and freedom. Longtime MRAs are usually glad to take one for the team, but everyone must realize that exploitation of personal tragedies, for any reason, is an insult to the dear ones whose honor we fight and win for. It is an insult to the MRM, which gave us life and that we gave our lives to.  

 

While the film, which boasts of highlighting human struggle, ironically, undermines the same, there are some who have been foolish enough to believe and say that MRAs are jealous of a filmmaker’s success. MRAs have much to be proud of because they stand up and fight to restore their own honor and that of their families, and also empower others to fight. With no offense intended, it must be said that there is little to be “jealous” about a victim-turned-filmmaker, who has neither experienced nor understood what fighting means, and promotes victimhood among men.

 

Some MRAs have been demonized for saying that the filmmaker did not duly acknowledge the MRM and MRAs for their earnest contribution to the film, and for stating that the filmmaker is undermining the movement through calculated silence. While I leave it to experts to comment on the technical excellence of the film, I propose a thought experiment and ask the reader to imagine what the filmmaker’s reaction would have been, had someone taken all the credit for her hard work, through lies of omission. MRAs have been maintaining a dignified silence about this issue for several months, but when a filmmaker takes advantage of her popularity to undermine a long-standing movement, and becomes the “voice of men” by lies of omission, silence is no longer an option.

 

The ‘other woman’ in man’s life – his monster-in-law!

Disclaimer:

The following post was inspired by a recent story by feminist author Anubha Sawhney Joshi of the Times of India.  See original article here (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/relationships/man-woman/The-other-woman-in-mans-life–his-mom/articleshow/5705786.cms)!

The ‘other woman’ in man’s life – his monster-in-law!

Freud and Oedipus are both dead and gone. But grown daughters unwilling to let go of their mother’s pallu are the death of any happy marriage…

It’s a relationship that has spawned scores of criminal cases U/s 498A of IPC , made even stars like Prashant and Adnan Sami look like criminals (depending at which stage you started following the news about them) and taken an age-old tussle and put it out there on the street. It’s the maa-beti saga, where two women (on purpose and off it) are working to finish off an absolutely unsuspecting “bakra” – the son-in-law.

And while nobody’s taking away any credit from the ‘maa’ who bore and raised this fine specimen of femininity that some man has consigned his life to, let’s get some perspective here. Girls, it’s all very well to be your mother’s biggest fan, and love and respect and cherish her. But when you get your own man to have and to hold, it’s time to grow up and be a woman.

“My wife is a hotshot architect who has managed to bag quite a few prestigious projects,” says Bakshi, 29, an industrial designer. “But as soon as her mother enters the scene, she becomes this whimpering, brain-dead little child who cannot function without her approval. It’s so irritating.” Bakshi’s wife Rohini is the prototype for the Indian female, give or take a few exceptions. “Bakshi must understand that my mother, at her age, will not change her thoughts or actions. So he (Bakshi) must,” she says. But what about Rohini herself changing? “What’s wrong with me,” she irritatedly asks. “For one, her mother continues to buy her underwear, and now insists on buying mine too” Bakshi offers. Rohini glares at him and squirms. The example above is not a figment of our imagination. Both Rohini and Bakshi (names obviously changed) are real people and so is their strange situation.

Psychiatrist Sanjana Bagh deals with the ‘mama’s girl’ syndrome on a regular basis and it never ceases to amuse her. “It’s the same story that is told with such amazing regularity – that the girl will bend over backwards to do what her mother wants and her husband will grow to resent that,” says Bagh. “This statement is usually followed by the revelation that the m-i-l is constantly trying to manipulate the daughter and she’s the only one who is neither able nor willing to see that.”

When the Yuvraj of the Indian cricket team proudly announced on national television that he was a mama’s boy, he successfully alienated more than just a few PYTs.  But why don’t Aishwaryas and Eshas of Bollywood have the same effect? In today’s age of economically independent, free-thinking women, no man is willing to ‘cohabit’ with his mother-in-law as the other woman. “Mothers really need to cut the virtual umbilical cord,” says Khushi Sharan, a college student. “Why are they so hell-bent on hanging on to their daughters? Don’t they have a partner of their own? And if not, don’t they just have friends? And a life?” she asks.

Advocate Mrinal Deshmukh, a divorce lawyer, believes that a mother’s interference and domination can – and does – lead to cracks in the marital relationship. “These can be overcome if there is a conscious balancing of relationships done by the female,” says Deshmukh, adding that extreme cases do end up in divorce.

Dev Challa was married to a mama’s girl. “I say ‘was’ not because she changed her ways but because the marriage ended. And I hold her bizarre relationship with her mother solely responsible,” says Dev. “Gauri didn’t have a father and was brought up by her mom. I should have realised there was something very wrong when she suggested we take her along on the honeymoon, just so she wouldn’t feel left out. But at that time, I thought the poor lady needed a holiday so there’s no harm taking her along.” When Dev and Gauri moved to Singapore, of course, Mummy moved with them. From then on, life was hell. “She would insist on cooking and cleaning for me, looking after me, tending to my every need. I felt like she was married to me and my wife was the outsider. And Gauri refused to see my point. ” Being the responsible man he is, Dev believed in an equal distribution of housework. “Juxtapose that with her mother, who would lovingly fulfill all of Gauri’s wishes and make sure our problems were never ironed out, and I looked like an incompetent fool in comparison. Most of our fights began with her coercing me to treat her mother’s intervention favourably,” he says.

Bagh is not surprised how that marriage turned out and has some advice for Gauri and others of her ilk. “Girls have to realise that after marriage, roles shift. And even if you have the same commitment (to your mother), your involvement in discharging those commitments might change. That is in no way a reflection of the love you have for your mother,” she says.

Sham Ronawalla, consultant psychiatrist at Jaslok Hospital offers a simple solution – space. “Even the best of relationships need it and mothers must realise this and be ready to let go of their daughters at a certain stage. In extreme cases, I have seen a mother manipulate a marriage by using dependence and control as synonyms for love. That’s just the worst thing a mother can do to her daughter, especially since she is not going to be around forever to look after her,” says Ronawalla. The good doctor advocates an ideal system where mothers choose to live away from their married children and take up an independent existence of their own. “A mother has to let her daughter develop a healthy relationship with her spouse. If not, sooner or later, the daughter will catch on to the fact that her mother is trying to interfere in her marriage and her reaction will be one of anger and resentment towards her.”

For girls, Ronawalla has one piece of advice: “Stop your mother constantly imposing herself in your married life, or you’ll no longer remain someone’s wife.” Touche.

[Enter Post Title Here]

Disclaimer:

The following post was inspired by a recent story by feminist author Anubha Sawhney Joshi of the Times of India. This post is meant to provide a balanced perspective on the problems arising in marriages today and not to be taken as an original literary contribution.

See original article here (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life/relationships/man-woman/The-other-woman-in-mans-life–his-mom/articleshow/5705786.cms)!

The ‘other woman’ in man’s life – his monster-in-law!

Freud and Oedipus are both dead and gone. But grown daughters unwilling to let go of their mother’s pallu are the death of any happy marriage…

It’s a relationship that has spawned scores of criminal cases U/s 498A of IPC , made even stars like Prashant and Adnan Sami look like criminals (depending at which stage you started following the news about them) and taken an age-old tussle and put it out there on the street. It’s the maa-beti saga, where two women (on purpose and off it) are working to finish off an absolutely unsuspecting “bakra” – the son-in-law.

And while nobody’s taking away any credit from the ‘maa’ who bore and raised this fine specimen of femininity that some man has consigned his life to, let’s get some perspective here. Girls, it’s all very well to be your mother’s biggest fan, and love and respect and cherish her. But when you get your own man to have and to hold, it’s time to grow up and be a woman.

“My wife is a hotshot architect who has managed to bag quite a few prestigious projects,” says Bakshi, 29, an industrial designer. “But as soon as her mother enters the scene, she becomes this whimpering, brain-dead little child who cannot function without her approval. It’s so irritating.” Bakshi’s wife Rohini is the prototype for the Indian female, give or take a few exceptions. “Bakshi must understand that my mother, at her age, will not change her thoughts or actions. So he (Bakshi) must,” she says. But what about Rohini herself changing? “What’s wrong with me,” she irritatedly asks. “For one, her mother continues to buy her underwear, and now insists on buying mine too” Bakshi offers. Rohini glares at him and squirms. The example above is not a figment of our imagination. Both Rohini and Bakshi (names obviously changed) are real people and so is their strange situation.

Psychiatrist Sanjana Bagh deals with the ‘mama’s girl’ syndrome on a regular basis and it never ceases to amuse her. “It’s the same story that is told with such amazing regularity – that the girl will bend over backwards to do what her mother wants and her husband will grow to resent that,” says Bagh. “This statement is usually followed by the revelation that the m-i-l is constantly trying to manipulate the daughter and she’s the only one who is neither able nor willing to see that.”

When the Yuvraj of the Indian cricket team proudly announced on national television that he was a mama’s boy, he successfully alienated more than just a few PYTs.  But why don’t Aishwaryas and Eshas of Bollywood have the same effect? In today’s age of economically independent, free-thinking women, no man is willing to ‘cohabit’ with his mother-in-law as the other woman. “Mothers really need to cut the virtual umbilical cord,” says Khushi Sharan, a college student. “Why are they so hell-bent on hanging on to their daughters? Don’t they have a partner of their own? And if not, don’t they just have friends? And a life?” she asks.

Advocate Mrinal Deshmukh, a divorce lawyer, believes that a mother’s interference and domination can – and does – lead to cracks in the marital relationship. “These can be overcome if there is a conscious balancing of relationships done by the female,” says Deshmukh, adding that extreme cases do end up in divorce.

Dev Challa was married to a mama’s girl. “I say ‘was’ not because she changed her ways but because the marriage ended. And I hold his bizarre relationship with her mother solely responsible,” says Dev. “Gauri didn’t have a father and was brought up by her mom. I should have realised there was something very wrong when she suggested we take her along on the honeymoon, just so she wouldn’t feel left out. But at that time, I thought the poor lady needed a holiday so there’s no harm taking her along.” When Dev and Gauri moved to Singapore, of course, Mummy moved with them. From then on, life was hell. “She would insist on cooking and cleaning for me, looking after me, tending to my every need. I felt like she was married to me and my wife was the outsider. And Gauri refused to see my point. ” Being the responsible man he is, Dev believed in an equal distribution of housework. ” Juxtapose that with her mother, who would lovingly cook Gauri’s favourite dishes and make sure our clothes were ironed and I looked like an incompetent fool in the family. Most of our fights began with her coercing me to treat her mother’s intervention favourably,” he says.

Bagh is not surprised how that marriage turned out and has some advice for Gauri and others of her ilk. “Girls have to realise that after marriage, roles shift. And even if you have the same commitment (to your mother), your involvement in discharging those commitments might change. That is in no way a reflection of the love you have for your mother,” he says.

Sham Ronawalla, consultant psychiatrist at Jaslok Hospital offers a simple solution – space. “Even the best of relationships need it and mothers must realise this and be ready to let go of their daughters at a certain stage. In extreme cases, I have seen a mother manipulate a marriage by using dependence and control as synonyms for love. That’s just the worst thing a mother can do to her daughter, especially since she is not going to be around forever to look after her,” says Ronawalla. The good doctor advocates an ideal system where mothers choose to live away from their married children and take up an independent existence of their own. “A mother has to let her daughter develop a healthy relationship with her spouse. If not, sooner or later, the daughter will catch on to the fact that her mother is trying to interfere in her marriage and her reaction will be one of anger and resentment towards her.”

For girls, Ronawalla has one piece of advice: “Stop your mother constantly imposing herself in your married life, or you’ll be no longer remain someone’s wife.” Touche.