Expectations or Extortion?
You can’t please everyone all the time
"I am expected to drop everything and rush home whenever any of my in-laws decide to drop in unannounced. And If I am not there because of some work commitment, I am sure to be greeted with sour, grim faces when I get back home," narrated a lady at the Pune book reading of Lady, You're Not a Man.
"And I am expected to not even go near my computer on weekends, regardless of the pressures at work and do 'seva' of everyone because that's what 'bahus' are supposed to do! As it is, they barely tolerate that I work" chimed in another young lady in the chorus that had suddenly developed around the subject of the multitude of expectations women have to deal with today.
This was happening concurrently with another twitter conversation I was part of, where a young friend was wondering whether she should change her surname post marriage. When all of us counseled her to do as she pleased, she felt that there was an unvoiced expectation coming from her family to go through with it. And though not comfortable with making the change, she was equally uncomfortable about not living up to the expectations of everyone around her!
And so it goes on. The whole world wants to make women behave (or not behave) in the way they think is right. Parents want you to marry when they decide it is the right time, teachers want you to dress the way they think is appropriate, and in-laws of course want you to completely go through a makeover overnight and change your personality and your conduct from what it's been for the past 25 years of your life! "Eat only this on Tuesdays and Thursdays, talk less, wear more, don't go out, make this dish with a home-ground spice only and if you don’t call the entire extended family for a personally cooked meal once a week you are a very bad daughter-in-law indeed... Didn't your mother teach you anything?"
Sometimes the censure is direct and vocal, sometimes its raised eyebrows only, but more often it is the deadliest of them all: a sigh and a pathos-laden look palpably sending out a message that you have broken someone’s heart or hurt their feelings forever by not doing such a small thing as giving up the once a year outing with your friends, and instead taking your sister-in-law and her several brats shopping! These perfectly pitched sighs and hurt looks are finely tuned to make you feel guilty and angry and miserable all at the same time. And if and when you do give in, you end up hating everyone around, especially yourself for not having the guts to stand up! Inwardly you rage but there is little you can do against the snowball of expectations that keeps coming at you, becoming larger and larger as it draws closer!
So is there a solution? A determined looking lady said that night in Pune, "After several years of marriage, I have now realised that you can’t please everyone all the time, so it’s best to just ensure that you please yourself and do whatever you want!"
What do you think? Drop your comments and thoughts in the space below.
Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty images