Friday, December 12, 2014


Marriage and Indian Parents part1

Here are some comments that stood out to me from other Indian feminist blogs about marriage and parents.

I don’t think its right to say Indian parents don’t want their children to be happy. It’s just that they think they know best for their children, never mind that their children are fully grown adults with serious careers who have been living by themselves for years now. They genuinely think that the differences – cultural, religious, language, whatever – are big enough to cause problems for the couple. This is because the parents come from that sort of a milieu, where they have been married to someone from another background, and have learnt to adjust and leave – so isn’t that what is going to work best for their children too?
The other problem is that India is still very much a collective culture, in the sense that the happiness of the group is much more important than the happiness of the individual. And it’s at the root of the ‘what will people think’ chant of many Indians, especially many older Indians. So Indian parents want their children to marry somebody who is acceptable to society – someone from the opposite sex, someone who is equally well off, if not more, someone from the same country/state/religion/caste etc.
I hope I’m not out of line when I say this, but in all this discussion around Indian parents, let’s not forget that your man is a fully grown adult who should be making his decisions for himself. I have known enough people who have faced opposition from their parents and managed to deal with it and marry the partner of their choice, either by convincing his parents or going ahead without their blessings. So maybe you are better off without a partner who is unable to make a difficult decision and stand by it.
 I don’t think Indian girls were ever raised to think about or care whether their husband is a virgin or not – only their own virginity is ever discussed and fetished.

Some Indian parents can’t care less how many girls their son “scored” before getting married. What matters is that they, the parents finally “win”. The guy’s ill morals is something that nobody challenges. And I’m talking about living examples, people that I know myself.
-we have a system, which asks us to compromise on many things..
it is highly difficult for a self reliant individual
Parents do not want their children to be happy. They want their children to fit into a mould for their sake, and for the sake of appearances.
It’s blackmail, pure and simple. The threat is the severance of family ties unless the girl/guy gets married to one of their choice. Because of this, I think its perfectly fair to call the blackmailer’s bluff and just go ahead. It’s a choice between making yourself happy versus making someone else happy at your expense – for life.
Yes our parents did a lot for us. Yes they are grateful. But to use that as a bludgeon and threaten excommunication reveals the true intentions behind this “love”. It’s not love. It’s control.

For many Indian parents, (male) children are an investment. They are pushed into nice, traditional life-trajectories, pushed into nice, conventional careers, pushed into marriage with nice, traditional women, and guilted and emotionally blackmailed into behaving like nice little minions of their parents. Forever.
What is important to them is their future security, their control over their children (mostly sons), their ownership over the d-i-l and grandchildren, their standing is society, the amount on money they can make from a son’s marriage, their remaining number one in their son’s life even though he has a wife and kids. The son’s happiness does not matter. Not because they are inherently mean people or that they don’t love their sons. It’s because they feel that they know best. That their adult sons should not think for themselves. It’s like your toddler is crying for candy but you in all your wisdom won’t let him have it because it’s bad for him. You will offer him a carrot stick instead. Because you are the parent and you know best.
ndian society is in transition from being tightly clan-based to one that is more individualistic and many young people are caught in the middle. In a clan-based society, every member is expected to play a role and the performance of the role is supposed to guarantee the greater good of the clan and hopefully for the individual, though the individual is of less importance. It’s not as simple as a ‘yes or no’ answer to ‘don’t Indian parents want their kids to be happy? These parents believe that their kids will be happy if they stick to the traditional norms because that’s what they (the parents) did and they were happy. And by sticking to the traditional plan, not only will the child (eventually) be happy or at least resigned enough not to complain, but the family and society will be too. So win-win in their minds, if only the child would stop being difficult.
The problem is that young people don’t fit into this clan-based model so well anymore. I believe this transition into greater individualism is inevitable but right now, you’re going to see a lot of these sandwiched people. I personally don’t believe someone who has tasted a loving and genuine relationship with someone of their choice will be fulfilled in an artificially-created one. Though there have been cases where guys have given up the girlfriends of their choosing for an arranged marriage and been happy. The thing is that the traditional Indian marriage set-up offers a lot of perks for guys – being waited on hand and foot by the wife for example – which kind of smooths the path, and of course the idea is that the cultural similarities make adjustments easier. Nowadays it’s possible for guys to find a beautiful wife, who is somewhat modern, holds a good job etc. and still in the end, defers to the husband and runs the home singlehandedly. Makes heartbreak easier to swallow. Though it doesn’t work for all.
I think women face more pressure and have way fewer choices than do men; but many women still stand up for themselves and fight for their choices.
I know very few men who have stood up to their parents or braved social censure.
I know a lot of women who have, so I’m inclined to think that Indian men find it more difficult to swim against the tide of social and parental disapproval.
I do believe, based solely on personal experiences, that women are better at coping with adversity and ambiguity than are men.
I have encountered more courage and conviction in women than I have in men, especially when it comes to family/relationships.

we have a system, which asks us to compromise on many things..
it is highly difficult for a self reliant individual

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