Wedding bells were ringing for Cunchan. The lehenga, bangles and mandap were all ready. But as the big day came closer, her mother made her sit and lectured her about the wisdom of being a good bahu: “saas sasur ki seva karna”. Cunchan flinched at the vision of her freedom getting blurred but later accepted it as the norm of society.
But after witnessing this, I couldn’t stop questioning that would any mother impart this wisdom to a man who is getting married? Will a man ever be expected to serve and respect their in-laws?
Marriage in our society is indeed a responsibility for both men and women involved. But the scale of responsibility is more skewed towards women. As in women are burdened with more duties and expectations than men. Men’s primary duty is to provide money, shelter and safety to their wives while women have to take care of all this at the cost of their own individuality. They have to prioritise their husband’s reputation, family and wellbeing over their own.
So the wisdom of being a good marriage partner is always reserved for women? While men are just taught to be independent.
They are not expected to value their wife’s reputation, family and wellbeing as long as they can rain money on them. With the possession of financial responsibility in marriage comes the power to dominate and be respected by the wife and her family. Is it an unknown fact that damaads in our society are hailed as princes by women’s families? Is it not true that a woman’s parents feel obliged to serve her husband just because he accepted her in marriage and took away the burden from them?
This is the reason why men are never expected to serve their in-laws. This is the reason why men are never told that their in-laws are equivalent to their own parents and deserve the same respect. But if the responsibilities in marriage are skewed in such a way, can it ever ensure equality, love and happiness? If women are burdened with most responsibilities in marriage can they ever feel free and equal in the space of marriage? If men never learn to respect and serve their in-laws, will they ever step down from the pedestal of male privilege and dominance in marriage? If parents raise their daughters and sons differently, will they ever consider each other’s existence of equal importance?
So it is high time that we start raising men and women on equal terms. Both men and women should be taught to respect each other in marriage and serve each other’s families. If being a good bahu is a part of individuality, being a good damaad should be a part of man’s life too. And women’s parents need to stop pedestalling their damaads just because of their gender. Parents must treat their bahus and damaads equally.
Views expressed are author’s own