Dear Parents, Stop Glorifying Sons-in-law And Demeaning Your Daughters

Should marriage be about connecting two people by a thread of love or by chains of power? Then why should parents feel obliged to the man that agrees to marry their daughter?

Rudrani Gupta
Feb 03, 2021 17:17 IST
Can Looks Be Criteria for Marriage

What does it take for society to belittle the daughters in the families? A son, a jamai raja and the demented mindset that works on the ideologies of male-child preference. No matter how much talented, successful and happy on her own a woman is, desi parents leave no stone unturned to belittle her in comparison with her male counterparts. If a male child isn't enough to deprive a daughter of her rights in a family and society, jamai rajas become the new patriarchs who are always glorified and prioritised over daughters. Desi moms police their daughters for almost everything that they do while glorifying sons-in-law for just being a man who married and rescued their naive daughters. 


Why should parents feel obliged to the man that agrees to marry their daughter?

I have personally witnessed how families normalise the dominance of son-in-law in a daughter's family, so much that he is never questioned for the evident mistakes that he commits. A son-in-law in my family is welcomed and served as a prince if he resides at his in-laws' home even for a day and often unwillingly. All his choices and priorities are kept in mind and the entire family works together to ensure that he doesn't feel any kind of discomfort. The daughter is expected to serve him first rather than spending time with her parents or lying down in her own room in sickness.

On the other hand, the son-in-law very proudly demands princely respect and treatment if he visits his in-laws. If anything is not done according to his choice and comfort, he feels entitled to disrespect the in-laws, scold his wife in front of her family and leave immediately vowing to never return until an apology is offered. 


Jamai Raja Why it's time desi parents stop belittling their own daughters and glorifying the jamai raja

But what makes these spoiled brats deserving of the pricey treatments by desi parents? And what is it that lacks in the daughters that they are subordinated in almost every stage of their lives? It is nothing but the power play of gender. Sons and sons-in-law deserve respect, freedom and rights just because they are men. While daughters and daughters-in-law are forced to give up their choice and agency just because they are women. The male-child preference dictates the terms in our lives in so many ways that we normalise it as something that exists by default and cannot be changed.

Moreover, the idea of the necessity of marriage in a woman's life further deepens the gender divide in the treatment meted out to sons-in-law and daughters. Daughters are seen as a burden in the families because of their subordinate gender and sexuality until they get married. Because after marriage, she becomes the responsibility of another man and the daughter's family is obliged to him for relieving them of their burden. Important to note here that glorifying the sons-in-law also has its root in the older times when kings used to marry their daughters to different kingdoms as a prize of war or to form an alliance. 


The Jamai Raja Theory: Today, when there are no kingdoms at war and women are much more than patriarchy's subordinates, it makes no sense to glorify a son-in-law while demeaning the daughters.

Women aren't burdens on their parents anymore because there are many avenues that allow women to educate and empower themselves and their parents. Today women are leaders and have registered many firsts to their names. They could be more than many men in their families and workplaces but never less than any man in the world.

Then why should parents feel obliged to the man that agrees to marry their daughter? Moreover, should marriage be about connecting two people by a thread of love or by chains of power? Shouldn't marriage bind two equal people who vow to support each other rather than subjecting one person in service of the other?

These questions should have been rhetorical but unfortunately in our society, they are raised every day because the right answer is still far from reach. And this is possible only if our desi parents, especially desi moms, shed the internalised ideologies of patriarchy and male-child preference and love their daughters for who they are.

Views expressed are the author's own. 

#Male-child preference #marriage and relationships #son-in-law