Relationship and control: In our society, the definition of a relationship is wrong. It is defined in terms of control and power relations based on gender. It is never defined as a bond of equals thriving on the hope for more love and understanding. Mothers in our society ask their daughters to control their husbands while expecting their sons to dominate their wives.
Why is a relationship so poorly defined in our society? Why are we coercing the concept of domination or subordination in relationships of today? Why can’t sons and daughters be taught to treat their partners as equals? Are we even moving forward in the direction of gender equality?
Mothers expect sons to dominate their wives
Many mothers, including mine, tell their sons to control their wives. Sons are told to not be “joru ka ghulams” when they get married. My mother says that she will marry my brother to a “gaon ki ladki” so that she is not as outspoken, “lazy” and resilient as her daughters. Often, the discussion in my house revolves around the fact that whether the bahu will control my brother and hence the family or will she be the one in control. The major reason why mothers expect their sons to control their wives is that mothers are financially dependent on their sons who are seen as the head of the house. They assume that if the daughter-in-law is not in control, she will “manipulate” the son into disowning his parents and win his favours.
But why do we perceive marriage in terms of gender-based roles of control and subordination? Why do we villainise daughters-in-law? Why do we assume that if bahus are not in control, they will try to dominate their marital families? Must everything in a marriage revolve around gaining the favour of the man? Why are men perceived to be the head of the family and yet so malleable? Do they not have the understanding to decide what is right and wrong?
Wives are told to control their husbands
Although, it cannot be denied that some women do deliberately try to manipulate and control their husbands. In my family, I have often come across mothers who teach their daughters to keep their husbands in control. It is assumed that if the husband is in control, the wife will be able to rule in her marital home. She will control the tijori, not have to cater to every demand of the in-laws and keep her husband on her side in every argument with them. But then why should a woman ever live in fear of being unjustly subjected to servitude in marital homes? Why can’t women have a happy and respectful relationship with husband and his parents?
Another major reason why wives are told to control their husbands is that husbands are assumed to be the sole source of security and safety for women. If they are not controlled, they might detract and go behind other women. But then why should women be dependent on their husbands for anything? Why should they take the responsibility of keeping their husbands on the “right” track?
Yes, there are mothers too who teach their daughters to be submissive to their husbands which is wrong. But then can turning gender inequality upside down ever be a solution to it? Can women achieve value and respect for themselves by dominating and controlling men?
Relationship and control: Why they need to be separated
The point is that we need to stop perceiving relationships in terms of power relations. Concepts of control and subordination should be removed from the dictionary of relationships. Both men and women should be taught to treat each other as equal partners. Do we understand the consequence of coercing the idea of control in relationships? They will become battlegrounds of asserting domination, with no space for love and understanding. Why are we putting sons and daughters on the tip of the double-edged sword that the fight for domination in a relationship is? And are we even ready to give birth to a generation that is void of love and understanding? We need to understand that raising a strong generation means making them aware of their rights and the rights of others. Gaining strength by thwarting the rights of the other can never be a solution for anything.
Views expressed are author’s own
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