Questions we never ask our society / families, but should!

2020 has been an year that shook the world, and (no)thanks to COVID, this past year I had been trying to understand myself a whole lot better.

As a lover of social niche, I was trying to figure out if there was anything I was passionate about – you know apart from love, oneness and dogs. That’s when it struck home that certain times we don’t see what’s right in front of us!

The subcontinent was just draping itself into summer, and the nation wide lock-down by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had me staying indoors and I was scrolling through my news feed. 

‘Movement limits imposed by countries around the world have forced people to spend much more time at home, leading to a surge in domestic abuse cases’ – a NY Times feature read. 

NY Times, June 2020

Not long after, I noticed similar articles in the subcontinent about rising abuse. It was 2020 for god’s sake: are we still so primitive and barbaric? Are we so exclusive in our love and rights, even within families? Turns out, yes, humans are a selfish tribe. YN Harari had said it right!

[I read books, forums, had discussions with people in my network including friends in psychiatry and wellness, followed discourses from various spiritual leaders to understand us: humans!]

If it’s bird flu, we cull all the birds. If it’s another country, we declare war. If it’s someone less fortunate, we bulldoze them with our power. If it’s someone different from us, we either bend them or break them.

What is this unique trait of humans that makes us think we are special? That we alone deserve, while others don’t! Why do we love alienating – based on interests, language, opinions, ideologies, gender, belief? 

[If you don’t know people who have gone through abuse, if you haven’t been abused, if you don’t know people who are abusive – consider yourself lucky! Cos not everyone else is…]

At a time when cutting edge technology is embracing us, with drones and machine learning and smart automation at our midst, despite so much progress under our belt, I am afraid we have all actually not progressed. What are we learning / teaching in our academic institutions, if we cannot establish peace, equality and happiness in our homes.

[I don’t want those serial offenders, who take offense when I call a spade a spade to even respond. This is not for you! It’s for people who know what I am talking about…]

Thanks to 2020, I learnt quite a bit about abuses, and if society has slowly started to understand physical, sexual abuses, there are subtler ones, which our society conveniently uses under the grounds of tradition, culture and authority figures.

Cloaked in the patriarchal culture, our nation’s women will share stories of verbal, emotional, financial and psychological abuses they face in their homes. –> HOME: WHERE THEY LIVE WITH PEOPLE WE CALL FAMILY!

Some of the inequalities I still don’t get:

–> Why are women expected to leave their homes and jobs when they get married, while men aren’t.

–> Why does a man’s family/parents can be supported, while women’s parents need to fend off for themselves.

If a woman does support, it is not taken kindly. Why is that? And why does a woman need permission to spend time with her family?

Culture is after all man-made, but people refuse to change the system cos it’s convenient for them.

–> Why are women expected to do chores even if they are working, sick or busy, while men don’t have to.

God forbid if the woman lives in a way that’s different, she will be scandalized.

–> Why are there differential treatment – how do you call it a family when you treat people differently based on money or gender or roles? Have you noticed how son in laws get treated? Have you noticed how daughter in laws are treated?

Physically, emotionally, financially – whatever she does is never enough, and is subjected to comparison, criticism, character assassination and judgement.

Tell me you haven’t heard stories where the dil is expected to do all the work, even if there are able people around to help.

Tell me you haven’t heard stories, where the girl’s family gets treated unfairly, just because they are girl’s family.

–> Why aren’t the marriage expenses shared? Why do people still mention dowry or gold? Even if not mentioned, why do families give anyway…

–> Why are there favorite kids or parents? Why is there favoritism of any kind? Why am I hearing tales where women need to ask for money to buy something for themselves, even though they are earning members? Why are assets in one party’s name, while maintenance and consumer durables are borne by the other?

It’s not all. Just when you think you understand layers of abuse and inequality in the society, there are deeper layers beyond the yelling, insinuating and insulting. I was surprised there were even this many ways people could be abused, but it turns out, people do all kinds of mean things, if not overtly, then covertly. If they can’t be aggressive, they will be passive aggressive.

[Of course, abuse doesn’t just happen to women, but this narrative covers that part of the moral conundrum that most of our women do face!]

Apparently, there are 64 such signs of emotional abuse:

(to name a few)-

–> Rejection. Putdowns. Dismissiveness. Trivializing. Threats. Monitoring your whereabouts. Lecturing. Talk Behind Your Back. Interruption. Interference. Using guilt to get their way. Shutting down communication. Making you feel like you’re not good enough. Making you feel controlled. Dehumanizing you. Indifference. Not meeting your needs. You don’t feel love, compassion, or respect. <–

If such things happening in a home is not worse by itself, there is not enough awareness, and this form of domestic violence is often overlooked / trivialised, but they leave lasting scars, like other forms of physical abuse, leading to anxiety, depression and even suicide in certain cases.

Expecting rather than balancing, judging rather than embracing, promoting difference rather than equality, questioning rather than accepting, dictating rather than nurturing, feeling superior on account of physical or financial might — will never give happiness to either parties. Live and let live!

Watch for signs of abuse, and stand up for those in need!

Most importantly, may we ask ourselves — if we can’t love in our homes, how will we ever love our neighbors? 

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