Monthly Archives: September 2016

Command, Not Demand Respect

Respect – I think is the most misunderstood word. The official meaning of respect is -a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. But we are always asked to respect someone irrespective of the fact that the said person may not have any single quality that can be respected. More so a girl is always advised to be more respectful (in other words subdued) in her behaviour. Is not respect commanded and not demanded??

  • Respect your elders -Just because they are born a generation before me. So? If they behave maturely, impart me good knowledge, have done some good work of course I would respect them. But if they behave rudely, throw their weight around I won’t respect them.
  • Respect your guests –I will entertain my guest, try being a perfect host. But if my guests are complaining for no reason (especially during any occasions), being difficult, then I will not respect them.
  • Respect your in-laws – This list is huge; anybody remote who will be your relative-in-law needs to be respected. And this becomes more important if you are a bride or from bride’s family. There are some disgusting customs, where the bride’s family is supposed to bend and show respect to the groom’s family (irrespective of the age of the bride and groom family member). How being the relative or parents of the groom gives any one extra brownie point? If you behave nicely with me, my family I’ll respect you. But if you on purpose try to taunt or disrespect my family for your own (being from the groom side) ego, I won’t respect you.
  • Respect your husband (Respect him as your GOD)- Yes of course, I will respect my husband and he needs to respect me. However, if he keeps treating me badly and insulting me, how can I respect him??No he is not my god and I won’t treat him like one.
  • Respect because he/she is at a very high post – You may be a CEO or the head of the police but if your behaviour or thinking stinks you won’t get any respect from me.

Then there are certain parameters to decide, how respectful one is. If you do not follow any one of these then you are an offender

1)Your attire- Yes, if you wear a saree and cover your head you are extremely respectful (You may be swearing them in your heart but that doesn’t count). They certainly don’t believe – “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. I fail to understand how what I wear can be a sign of respect for anybody else.

2)The way you talk – If you voice your opinion and if it is against what the elders say, then you disrespect them. If they hurl insults or accuse you in the most awful manner, you are expected to keep quiet. This is your way of showing respect, but if you back answer you are a manner less, disobedient child.

3)The ornaments you wear after marriage (for girls)- I was told that I show no respect for my marriage since I don’t wear any of the ornaments which signify that I’m married. I simply looked at them and laughed and by doing so I definitely disrespected them.

I will respect you as long as you do the same. But if you are a stubborn arrogant rude person, I won’t respect you just because you are any of the above. If you cross your limit do not expect me to be a mute spectator. If my clothes, voice or the way I live my life offends you, I am definitely NOT SORRY.

This post was published first here

 

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Rakshabandhan-through-the-lens-of-a-feminist

It is that time of the year again, when the local markets are flooded with beautiful rakhis. Commercialization has seeped in –  there are now designer rakhis and unique gifts.

The name ‘rakshabandhan‘ suggests ‘a bond of protection’. On this day, brothers make a promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles, and the sisters pray to God to protect their brother from all evil.

Hailing from a family with two elder sisters, we tied rakhi to our first cousins. In our family, the tradition is that the sisters tie rakhi even to their nephew (brother’s son) with the same intention (i.e. promise of protection). As kids, it was all about getting together and gifts. We used to get a lot of – “Oh three sisters! Hmm, so no brother! As rakshabandhan and Bhai duj approached,“Whom will you tie a rakhi to? Do you have any cousin brother?”

As I grew up, I realized that something was massively wrong with this whole concept. The tradition is deeply rooted in the patriarchal nature of our society. Why do I need a brother to protect me? Won’t my sisters protect me or stand for me if required? Will I not help my maternal aunt, if she is in trouble? When we sisters raised this to our mom, she told us- “It is a tradition we follow. If you wish you three sisters can tie rakhi to each other.”

We did not do that, since our sisterly bond was way above all the tradition. I knew deep down my mom did not believe in this whole concept, but she did not mind performing the ritual. Someone told us that if you have no brothers you can tie rakhi to Lord Krishna. He will protect you. I wondered, “Why not Goddess Durga or Kali?”

I am sure many people won’t agree with my views and will say that I bring feminism in to everything. I don’t have a problem with this festival, but I have a problem with the way this festival again glorifies “Man being the provider and protector and women being weak.”

I have seen so many cases where the boys hear, “Do one thing – you tie rakhi to your sister, instead of she tying it to you.” Are we not giving a wrong message here? If it is about sibling love, then why doesn’t a sister tie rakhi to another sister? Or a brother tie rakhi to another brother? Are not all siblings bound to protect each other irrespective of the gender of the other sibling?

So what change did I bring into my family? I tie rakhis to my nieces too (not just my  cousin’s daughter but my elder sister’s daughter too). I tie a rakhi not for any promise of protection but purely for the family ties that exist and bind us all.

This dairy milk ad says it all!

This post was first published here