Can Indian Parents Please Stop Policing Lives Of Their Independent Daughters?

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Financially independent women: Often answering questions for mundane activities like going out for a walk can get exhausting and that is true for many Indian women too, who are financially independent, yet feel controlled at home by their parents and people around them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our families have been an immense support system, wherein one could confide and find consonance during these terrible times. But it does not take much for the same space to become immensely toxic, in the terms of rules and conditions that come along with the mentioned love.

Recently, Sanjana Singh, a writer, shared on Twitter she cannot step out without answering in detail the questions of her mother, despite being 28 years old. “It feels so bad that I feel getting married will give me an out because then apparently, I’ll become someone else’s problem. Why haven’t women burned this world down yet, I will never understand,” reads the rest of her tweet.

It is followed by a string of tweets, where she explains that the tweet is “not an argument for marriage”. Surely, it cannot be taken as a solution. For Sanjana, it was a more frustrating thought, when she received multiple comments like shaadi ke baad kuch bhi karna… (Do anything after marriage).

Her story seems to be relatable and a topic discussed by many women socially in our country. Single women often end up prisoners in their own house despite being independent in various other ways. Whether it be a sleepover with friends, going out for coffee, or going for a walk,  mundane activities become a huge deal and one ends up answering questions like whom are you going with, when will you return, then negotiations on time too, etc.

Many social media influencers have made content based on this- mothers asking questions before an adult daughter wants to step out. It is mostly mothers who are shown in these videos too. But can they be blamed for telling their daughters what to do and not? According to Sandhya Renukamba, one of the accounts to comment on Singh’s post, the blame should be on patriarchy and infantilisation. More mothers seem to do it as they too have internalised patriarchal control. They too have been controlled and now they too are trying to control whatever they can.

Plus, one cannot ignore that society seems to blame mothers first for their children, even the father does that. Although, this is not an excuse to re-implement a patriarchal system this cannot be overlooked either. How many times have your mother said that go if you want to but ‘papa’ may ask and I will not lie?

Many people in the comments advised Singh to move out, to which she replied, “I have lived away from home before and that is why I am able to identify the restrictive behaviour. I’m supposed to anyway get married in a couple of months, and moving out is one of the things I’m looking fwd to.”

Most women seek to work in other cities or places just to get out of the toxic environment, one of the people suggested this in the comments and it is true. Living separately in the same city is more complicated than it seems. Log kya kahenge, hum kya bolenge ki ladki separate kyun reh rahi hai? The understanding of the need to give their daughter personal space is lost on most Indian families, which see it as their duty to keep their daughters “safe” and out of harm’s way. What if she gets into a relationship? What if she chooses a boy whom our relatives don’t approve of? What if something bad happens to her because she chose to stay out late?

What parents need to understand is that policing an independent daughter’s life isn’t the solution to all their worries. The social outlook towards a woman’s independence and her agency needs to change on the whole, because a woman isn’t truly independent, even she earns her own paycheck if she needs permission to step outside her house.

(Opinions are the author’s own)

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