“Mehra aunty’s daughter-in-law is breaking the family. She is making Mehra aunty’s son move to a different home. Today’s girls are no less than a villain, who separate the grown-up sons from their parents and refuse to keep the in-laws with them during their old age. They are just like the devil daughters-in-law in the Baghban, who refused to keep their in-laws. Selfish & Self-centred!” my mother made a hard-hitting judgement about a woman, she hardly ever met. Without knowing anything about her challenges, she labelled the daughter-in-law as a monster just because she and her husband decided to live separately from parents.
While the movie Baghban, itself is deeply rooted in the patriarchal mindset, it is so sad how quickly my mother labelled Mehra aunty’s daughter-in-law as selfish and self-centred as she wants to live separately. It is sad how quickly society judges a woman if the couple decides to move out of the parent’s house. Doesn’t matter what happened, our society is quick to blame the daughter-in-law; It is quick to label her as a home breaker!
My mother, who herself was harassed by her in-laws, did not even take a minute to blame her friend’s daughter-in-law for breaking the family. Without even being aware of what circumstances led to the couple’s decision of moving out, she quickly shamed the daughter-in-law! She didn’t even consider what if the in-laws were abusive towards her; what if the husband himself wanted to move out; what if there was an issue about privacy and space; what if the in-laws themselves felt that there was the need for the kids to move out and live independently!
It is heart-breaking how even in the 21st century, women are labelled as selfish for living life on their own terms. I couldn’t stop but wonder why it is only expected of women to live with their in-laws and serve them, why not men? Why is it only expected of women to leave their parents behind and take care of their in-laws? Why not men? If men separate women from their parents, it is called tradition! But, if women do, she is a homewrecker!
It is sad how our society hates its daughters-in-law. It judges, shames and blames them without even knowing their circumstances. There are so many Indian daughters-in-law, who are struggling at hands of abusive in-laws. They are fighting daily battles for their dignity, respect and pride. But, rather than supporting these daughters-in-law to create a life of dignity, we are quick to call them family breakers! We are quick to curse them for breaking the family! We are quick to call them unsanskaari and selfish.
Dear Society, please stop labelling women as selfish if they don’t want to live with their in-laws. Why can’t our daughters live a life of their choice, just like our sons?