LIFESTYLE

10 Indian Men Recollect The Horribly Sexist And Patriarchal Ideas Their Families Tried To Impose On Them

No, 'boys don't cry' isn't a legitimate life lesson.

05/06/2017 4:10 PM IST | Updated 05/06/2017 4:10 PM IST
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It is safe to say that our first brush with patriarchy didn't happen at the movies, or the workplace or a college. It happened right inside the comforting familiarity of our homes. It all starts when parents tell the girl to learn to do chores while encourage the boy how to drive a car, and when there is a curfew time for the girl while the boy can walk in whenever he desires.

While men are served privileges on a platter, often patriarchy is equally debilitating for them as it is for women. We asked ten men about the times their parents, or close family tried to foist infuriatingly patriarchal ideas on them. From traditional ideas of masculinity or restricting gender roles, patriarchy is as much against the personal freedoms of men.

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1. Abhinash Bhatt, 35, Delhi: "I have a sister. I have spent my entire childhood with her. It took me a long time to realise the sexism at home and I noticed it after I moved out from home for my education. Not only was there a stark difference between the way we both were treated and there was a difference in terms of expectations as well. One thing that made the biggest impression on me was how she was always asked to make chai or serve the meals and I only had to enjoy them. It was like they expected my meals and chores to be taken care of by someone. Guess who? Yes, someone else's daughter."

2. Rohan Sharma, 25, Delhi: "We had a family gathering once where all the aunties were talking about recipes and stuff. My mother sighed and said that her daughter -- my sister -- does not know how to cook. What followed was a lot of teasing and warning and commenting on how she needs to learn how to cook nahin toh kaise chalega. I was standing there. I was older and I couldn't cook anything either, except for Maggi. Safe to assume food will magically appear on my table, then?"

3. Animesh Chandra, 20, Pune: "I have always been told that I need to study hard and make it in life, because if it is a girl and she sits at home it is okay. But I don't have -- and they used this word -- 'luxury', to stay at home and do nothing. I think this is really, really convoluted."

"I have always been told that I need to study hard and make it in life, because if it is a girl and she sits at home it is okay."

4. Ravin Joshi, 29, Delhi: "This might not be the most prominent instance but is one that left a mark on me. When I wanted to learn to drive as a tween, my mother encouraged and told my father that it will be so helpful to have another driver in the family. But when my sister expressed the same desire when she was in her mid-teens, nobody paid any attention. She eventually learned how to drive after she started working and had enough money to fund the course."

5. Deven Rai, 31, Bengaluru: "I am the only child, so I have always had every benefit possible. I think it gives me an outsider's perspective on sexist ideas and roles. So, my uncle has two daughters. One day there was an elaborate discussion on how my family has it good because my parents have a son and it is apparently difficult with daughters. Three of us were there in that discussion and I don't think I have ever witnessed a scene or greater dejection in my life. In what world is this okay?"

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"I went to a posh boarding school and then abroad for my education, while they had to suffice with local, private ones."

6. Akash Baruah, 30, Guwahati: "I have grown up with two sisters. Hence it must be said that I have experienced a LOT of privileges, compared to them. I went to a posh boarding school and then abroad for my education, while they had to suffice with local, private ones. I was sitting at home, unemployed, for a long time but it is my youngest sister who actually gets the brunt for taking her time to decide what career to pick. These things also top the list of stuff that never gets spoken about or discussed at home."

7. Uday Deshmukh, 28, Pune: "Before I say anything about the patriarchal attitudes and sexism, I must confess that it took me a long time to realise my privileges. When I was young, I just assumed this was the natural order. But as I grew older I realised that I have not only been enjoying privileges I did not naturally deserve, I was encroaching on someone else's as well. In this case my sister's. Sexism. I mean where do I begin. I was also the one to be chosen when it came to say, have the favourite piece of chicken, or get to sit in the front seat of the car, next to the driver while my mother and sister cramped up in the back seat, go anywhere and anytime, get to have a say in all the major decisions taken in the family, from which colour of paint to be picked for which room to what car to be bought and even the size of the television bought! My elder sister always took the backseat and didn't object much -- mostly because I was the kid in the house and also because I was the boy -- I am only assuming this. I started realising my privileges when I saw my sister taking the backseat for the same things with her husband. I got really mad then but then it all dawned upon me."

"My expecting sister does not have to do that for me. If your son can't make his own nimbu paani, then maybe there is something not quite right with him, mom!"

8. Abhay Arora, 30, Delhi: "I guess these things are passed on without much thought. Like two years back, my sister was expecting a child. She had come home that summer and I went and got groceries, so we could all have a nice meal. When I reached home, my mother asked her to make nimbu paani and give me because can't she see how hot it is. I frantically refused. What I should have said was that I can make my own nimbu paani, please. My expecting sister does not have to do that for me. If your son can't make his own nimbu paani, then maybe there is something not quite right with him, mom!"

9. Arun Verma, 26, Delhi: "I think I was never made to do any chore at home. From preparing a meal to doing the laundry, everything was taken care of. Imagine the rude shock I got when I moved out for my graduation and took up a place on rent. Imagine my shock when I got up and the clothes were still unwashed, the dishes were still dirty, the house was still dusty, the floor unswept and the meal uncooked."

10. Rishabh Jain, 29, Bhopal: "One of the criterion of a prospective match for me was that it is okay if the girl works but she has to look after the family as well. I have never been asked to look after my own family but sure, expect that from a girl you will pick from a pool of strangers."

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