I’m sick and tired of hearing our Indian Society being called a patriarchal one. And of hearing how our men dominate, suppress and oppress our women.
Google defines ‘Patriarchal society as one in which men call all the shots, so to say…” Come now! Our Society is nowhere close to this definition surely!
If you ask me it’s women all the way. In most homes in our villages, towns and cities it’s the women who crack the whip.
Skeptical? You think I’ve lost it? That I’m talking through my hat? Stay with me guys and if you’re not convinced after this then – I’ll eat that hat!!
All I ask you to do is to spare 1/2 an hour of your precious time and watch any of our so-popular serials running on Indian Television! If art imitates life then there you are! In almost every episode running at any given time it’s the women who rule – for that half hour at least! Well ok – 15 minutes to be precise. The sponsors rule for the other 15 minutes, but that’s neither here nor there!
It’s the woman – impeccably and elaborately dressed – who reigns supreme and in her presence the men stand no chance. They’re mere puppets dancing to the tune of the wives, aunts, mothers and mothers-in-law!
It’s kind of like a hierarchy in Indian television serials, get it? Let’s break it up for a clearer picture. Right at the bottom features our female protagonist – the youngest bahu or daughter-in-law – a pious do-gooder, a hot candidate for sainthood! Then come the other female members – in increasing order of all that’s evil and cunning – the other bahus! And there’s always a bua (the father’s elder sister) to add spice to the proceedings. Her presence in the house is something of an enigma actually – whether she’s a widow, unmarried, divorced, separated …… is a never-to-be-revealed mystery! She’s omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent though. Amen!
And sitting royally on top of the hierarchy is the reigning Queen – the Saas or the mother-in-law; who has her kingdom and the cowering subjects wrapped around her bejewelled fingers; and who (I strongly suspect) devours iron nails in her spare time!
The bindi or the red dot on the forehead marks out these Femmes Fatales. The bigger the bindi and the more elaborate the design – the higher the degree of evilness and cunningness. It makes it so much easier for the viewer – one look at the forehead and we know who’s who and what’s what!!
Now for that million dollar question – what about the men? Are there no men in the stories beamed into our living-room 24/5 (weekends are rest days, thank god) through the years, ad infinitum?
Oh, there are, undoubtedly, plenty of men – but what exactly is their role and position in the house, hierarchy or in the story, is the trillion dollar question!!!
And here’s what I’ve gathered from random viewing of some of our soaps – men are merely part of the furniture – the To-Be-Seen-Not-Heard type. They’re all looks and no sound! One really can’t help feeling sorry for the poor chaps. The Indian man (TV would have us believe) cannot breathe, think, speak or even ‘ahem‘ 😉 without the permission of The Woman of the house – the one on top of the hierarchy, remember??!! One look from her and he cowers behind his own shadow. And whenever a fiery domestic scene is about to unfold the guys are shown slinking furtively off to some vague ‘important meeting’; leaving behind much sound and fury and fireworks among the womenfolk!!
Sigh! Need I say more?
This then seems to be the pattern running through most of our serials and apparently the public loves it, if TRPs are anything to go by!
So – patriarchal? Or matriarchal?
You tell me! 🙂