Mothers, be good to your daughters; teach your sons to behave!
A still from Mother India
n Aamir Khan‘s very first episode of Satyameva Jayate, he says he asked his viewers who they idolised the most. Almost everyone answered: their mother. In an episode that gut-wrenchingly explored the rampant, shocking issue of female foeticide, the film star-turned-society’s-voice-of-conscience wonders if, despite all this undying love we profess for our mothers, “Mother India will end up being a mother of sons alone? Or will the daughters of this nation also get the right to live?”
Isn’t that so full of irony? Not a single day goes by without some stomach sickening news being lambasted at you. Not one corner of the country disappoints with its propensity to be humiliating, belligerent and abusive towards women, stripping them of every shred of dignity. So, when Aamir asks to let the foetus live, we then ask, is this really what she’s living for?
“Ma ka darja” says Khan hyperbolically “bhagwan ka darja hai”. The mother figure. Ma Durga. Ma Kali. Ma Lakshmi. Ma Vaishno Devi. Whatever you might call her. Revered and worshiped in idea, but then what? Then those sons forget that worship and respect might be words that go hand in hand. They forget to translate those ecclesiastical theories into practice.
Then those mothers, distracted by the task of bringing their sons up as strict upholders of patriarchy, forget all the other schpeel about Lakshmy, Durga and Devi and turn instead to Sita. Where under the constant leitmotif of agni pariksha, mothers who give way to wives, girlfriends, girls who are friends, colleagues or just women on the street, are all constantly put under the same scanner to test their faith and their commitment to “Indian culture“, to their husbands and to what men think is correct and right.
Mothers, what are you doing to your sons? They disapprove. Their default position is suspicion. They are angry. They take to mobs with a scary penchant. They are intolerant of the ‘other’. They are disrespectful. They make us, women like you, feel vulnerable, unsafe and victimised at every level. They are hypocrites. They want to sleep with the girl with the legs, but marry the one who prays. They are judgemental, and their judgements each scarier than the next, are illogically explained with the words ‘culture’, ‘society’ and ‘values’.
The mother figure: revered and worshiped in idea, but then what? Then those sons forget that worship and respect might be words that go hand in hand.
h, mothers as you press each morsel of dal, roti and sabzi into his mouth begging him to eat, give into every tantrum, submit to every demand, don’t let him pick up a thing off the floor, you are creating a monster. You are okaying everything that will one day become the traits of the Regressive Indian Man. He will never outgrow the babying and will want this exact same head-bent servitude from every woman he meets. Hell, he will demand it, with his fists if necessary. This same test is then used when a woman “insert appropriate crime of freedom here — drinks, dances, shows leg, cheats” and deserves whatever retribution, she gets, because she failed the pariksha.
Yet, one day it was all in your hands. You could have changed ‘today’ — a ‘today’ that is gloomily characterised by a jealous man who mutilated his wife’s vagina, locked it up for four years and then molested his own daughter. A today when a teenage girl is prime target for frustrated men to molest and rape publicly and where more often than not, mobs seem to be the only clear answer to them.
Your lessons could have been to give women independence, respect, love and freedom, instead of teaching them that what you saw in those saas-bahu serials, where women under the garb of being the shows’ central character perpetuate an idea of acutely debilitating patriarchy, that begins with a woman having to protect her own chastity.
Then you would expect it to stop when your sons become fathers. But it doesn’t. Neither the thought of a mother expecting a baby girl nor the sight of their daughter does much to change this deeply ingrained, weirdly twisted logic — they don’t want girls, but they want brides for the sons they killed their daughters for. Where, pray, do they think these brides come from? The bride shop?
These men grow up, to become men (who, maybe, like your husband) so desperately wants a son he is ready to kill his daughter inside or outside the womb. And if she slips through the cracks and is ‘allowed to be born’, she will have every kind of restriction imposed on her. She will be beaten into shape, told by the police and regressive Khap Panchayats not leave her house after dark unescorted, told by her parents not to leave her husband and if she does never to come home.
Mothers of Indian men, stop breeding psychopathic barbaric Neanderthals inside your homes.