What is it about being raised as an Indian Woman that makes one feel as though she has no right to complain about anything? No matter how equally you may be treated to your brother and how liberal the family you marry into may be, there is a certain unspoken vibe that every Indian woman feels. It is that of “adjustment”. A lot has been said about this and there are many of us who are finally trying to question why this must be so. But at the end of the day, all an Indian woman can and must do is count her blessings and be patient.
A career, being treated with respect, being helped around the kitchen, being supported by her husband at all times, the right to privacy, and being indulged occasionally – little things that are taken for granted by women around the world – are all privileges for the Indian Woman. When things do not seem to be going the way they are supposed to be, society (and family) takes it upon itself to remind you of all the privileges you have and ensures that you feel guilty to be complaining at all.
The Indian Woman is conditioned by guilt. When she is young, she is made to feel guilty that she is not a boy. As she grows older, she is made to feel guilty about the cost of her education as, after all, educating the girl doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have to be married off. As she grows older still and sets up her own family, she is comes to realize that her home belongs to everyone in the family before it belongs to her. She is made to feel guilty for “leaving her children behind” as she goes to work. She feels guilty if she resents giving up something that means much to her. She is made to feel guilty if she asks for something that is rightfully hers. And she is made to feel guilty for asserting her individuality at all.
Look at the role models we are given. Examine the list of the maha pativratas (highly devoted wives). Sita – the eternal sufferer. Savitri – whose entire identity is based on her devotion to her husband. Mandodari – who silently suffered (and lost everything) as her her husband was consumed by lust for another woman. Draupadi – who probably ties for the award for highest mistreatment with Sita. The list comprises entirely those who suffered and stayed despite all the hardships that were thrown at them. An Indian Woman who complains is immediately reminded that her sufferings pale in comparison to what these fictional characters endured.
There is no room for emotion or being overwhelmed. There is no room for dreams or aspirations. There is no room to complain. And there is no room for wishing for something better. There is never an acknowledgement of the sacrifices she makes or what she endures in order to make life more comfortable for others. On the contrary, those who must express gratitude instead feel a sense of entitlement. It is as though the whole purpose of the Indian Woman’s existence is to “adjust” and then “adjust” some more until she vanishes completely and does not need to “adjust” at all.