Yes you read that right – How many INDIAN men are willing to give their wives a massage when she is pregnant or otherwise??
Why I stress on ‘Indian’ is because we are particularly a very patriarchal Nation. To that extent that women themselves are strong believers of some of these highly chauvinistic or patriarch ideas. Say on one end, we have these women fighting for their rights – be it in education or in marriage or for voting or for safety or generally in life; and on the other end – there are these mother-in-laws burning their daughter-in-laws alive because she couldn’t produce a male heir or didn’t get enough dowry or for any other redundant reason like this. Forget bigger issues like these, or issues that are happening in the lower strata of the society due to lack of education, or poverty or issues that are particular-culture related; even on daily basis, within families that are well educated and well to do – there are a lot of similar partialities that happen.
Sons are always preferred to daughters!
Daughters are always preferred to daughter-in-laws!
Fair is always more beautiful than dark!
Husbands are always the breadwinners and wives are always preferred in the kitchen!
Even if both partners are working – cooking and cleaning are always assumed to be the wife’s tasks!
Of course, we have come a long way and there are a lot of men, especially in the metros who do not shy away from sharing the domestic responsibilities. But the numbers are hardly significant. And they too are making individual choices, it doesn’t mount as a general change in the outlook of the society as a whole. The society still looks down upon the man who will do the dishes for his wife.
Before I started writing my own memoir in the form of this blog, I had done a lot of reading on pregnancy online; and also referred to a lot of books. They all, in their different ways, always stressed on the partner’s involvement in a woman’s pregnancy. They all propagated that it was his duty to keep her happy in those days or do those little things for her that help her relax – like give her an impromptu massage or make a special meal for her someday. Touchwood, my husband was quite proactive in this matter – and often did all those special things and a lot more to keep me going.
But I wonder – how many men out there are willing to do it?
Just the other day, we were at a friend’s place for dinner. Their little one is hardly six months old – but trust me, he is the happiest and the chubbiest and the cutest kid I have seen in a long long time. I often try to decode the reason for it. And the only logical explanation that comes to my mind – is the positive vibe that he receives from both his parents. Not only is my friend, a hands-on mother but so is her husband a hands-on father. He has voluntarily taken up duties – like giving the baby a burp after his feeding or keeping the milk bottles sterilised and ready are his tasks. And he merrily does them – never ever thinking or suggesting that he is doing his wife a favour by helping her. But rather accepts that it always should have been this way. How much is she suppose to manage on her own? What harm if the father contributes in more ways than just paying the bills?
Contrary to this case, was the story of one of my cousins. When she was in her last trimester, she would get these unbearable cramps in the night. But she would have to somehow manage to bear the pain without making a sound – as she was not allowed to disturb her husband’s sleep. When she told me this, I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t like she was living in some village, she was very much in Mumbai and financially also independent. Weird as it may sound, but she was forced to cook elaborate meals after coming back from work – inspite of her protesting that she has this strong aversion to the smell of ‘tadka’ and it makes her really sick. He would still insist and even fight over it – accusing her that she is making it all up so that she can laze around.
I also know of a husband, who, even after thirty years of marriage, believes that it is not his duty to pay for his wife’s medical bills. Rather her brothers should take care of it! He has the money to buy her fancy clothes and show off her beauty to the world; but no money to pay for her medical bills – leaving her body to rot from inside, while she puts up a fake smile for the world.
It boils my blood when I hear stories like this. How can people be like this? Isn’t she your wife? Isn’t she the mother of your children? So what if she doesn’t fetch in money; she has taken care of your family, your children, your house for so many years – doesn’t she deserve even that much appreciation from you?
At every stage in the pregnancy or later in parenting – there are many roles for the father to play. But how many men are really willing to be there?
In a culture where a wife is made to touch her husband’s feet out of respect – how is the same husband, of such an elevated status between the two, ever going to massage her feet in return??
This is no post to promote feminism… It is just a call for some support! Some understanding!!