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Education = Empowerment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by satchitananda, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    [JUSTIFY]"How can I leave my husband? I have to stick on because of my children, because of my parents, because of society, because I am financially dependent, because I don't have any money left after handing over everything I had to my husband and in-laws, where will I live ............." How many times do we hear these stories from perfectly well educated women, highly qualified women who are deeply unhappy in their married lives, no matter what the reason?

    We think "n" number of times about the consequences of taking a big step like separation or divorce ..... and we thought education was the gateway to equality and emancipation. Let me clarify, I am not saying that walking out of a marriage is the ultimate hall-mark of emancipation. However, what does a person do "in extremis"?

    These were the thoughts that have been wandering around my head for the past 4-5 days. Reason? My "Woman Friday" aka my domestic help. "WF" (sorry, nothing rude :p) has been working at my place for the last 9 years. Come June every year and she has been asking for an ever increasing sums of money as advance. She barely manages to clear it and comes asking for the next installment before the previous one is over. It seems to be getting out of hand. It is not as if she does not earn well (given the limitations of education, nature of work etc. of course). Her husband is a tile layer who works off and on whenever the mood takes him. She earns more than him. She has been saving in a pyramid scheme - a chit fund, despite a lot of warnings from us. Finally the time came when she almost lost a huge sum of money (nearing a lakh) when the person running this chit fund claimed insolvency and was about to run away. Somehow, with the aid of the local "sangham" they managed to buy off the house belonging to this lady (where she was living on rent). So part of the dues were set off against the cost. She managed to dig out some more and bought the house along with two of her sisters (each one bought a floor).

    So this year when she asked for an advance it was given to her and when she asked for a hike, BH put his foot down and said it would not be given to her, but a bank account would be opened in her name and the money would be deposited there. It was when filling out the details in the bank form for her that I realized that she was earning a lot more than her husband. Even so, he has been ruling the roost - WF is the one who has to do all the housework, outside work, earn money, take the kids to the docs, get them school admission, run to the school whenever the parents are summoned ..... Excuse? "He does not know" how to do all these jobs. (Sorry to be a bit off colour, but the only thing he seemed to know how to do was to produce these kids). Now he hangs around with various women. He is not beyond raising his hand on her if she does not toe his line. So I asked WF WTF she tolerates all this nonsense. After all she earns more, she does everything herself, the house is also in her name, so she does not need him. Why does she allow him to bully her and tell her what to do, when to go to work, when to take leave etc.?

    That is when I heard an interesting story - they had had a huge war a few days earlier and she had thrown him out of the house. This pathetic creature went to her parents' home and begged her brothers to talk to their sister. They in turn (stupid fellows) took him back and talked her into allowing him into the house.

    When opening the bank account, he was going to feature as the guardian of the nominee - her son, since the latter is a minor. After this fight, she told me he would not probably not sign. So she appointed her brother as a nominee and the so-called husband is totally out of the picture. Somehow I was even uncomfortable with the thought that he could easily do in anyone just to lay his hands on the money. May be I am being paranoid, but I am a very sweet, trusting soul! :hide: :bang

    The long and the short of the story is that a school dropout has had the gumption to make herself financially independent of her husband, stand up for herself and even throw him out of the house when things went too far.

    So what is all that education doing for us? Brings to mind Mr. Doolittle's talk about middle class morality. Education and financial independence not withstanding, I wonder how many of us would actually throw the husband out if he misbehaved. In all probability we would either walk out ourselves or stick on in the interests of keeping up appearances.[/JUSTIFY]
     
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  2. Pallavi4me

    Pallavi4me Platinum IL'ite

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Satchi, very well written, more than that I appreciate your thoughts and Can relate to it. Allow me to ramble here. One of my friend, recently married choose to stick the marriage though she is much independent than her husband - finances wise and managing other issues in life.

    I was advised by many well wishers that I should not suggest or drop the idea of separation into her head,as a friend. Those days, I really felt a pain, confusion and frustration when I'm not able to do anything to her except listening to her problems with him. How much ever we talk, separation or divorce are looked as very very drastic decisions by society and in spite of having able to manage everything in life, separating from an abusing person is not practical, is what I heard of (though I don't support that POV). It was at the tip of my tongue to tell her to throw him out of her life, but I could not do that as It is not right for me to intervene too much into her personal life. I have decided to support her in whatever her decision, but let me be frank I'm not happy with her sticking into that meaningless relationship. But When she choose her option, I kept quiet and till date I listen and support her emotionally.

    Sometimes, I calm down myself remembering our arch's statement, that if one person chooses to be in a marriage which doesn't seem to healthy one for others, the person might have had his/ her own reasons and we should not judge it as their weakness / helplessness.

    And strangely (may not be so strange), our society too respects or looks as maitrayee the one who bears everything silently and dies inside. I know two persons (I'm not very close to both of them- but heard first hand accounts of their lives) who lives with their so-called spouse & In-laws despite their life, dreams, ambitions have been killed. Everyone sympathies with them and say they managed to keep their marital life intact despite the abuses that shunned at them, but no one says a word of support / gives a hand saying that If you want to come out we will be there for you. I think it is not fair on their immediate family (maternal family) part to say that they worry about her and hate the In-laws family, but don't give a damn support to come out of it. They don't say It is if you want to come out to her, and let her take a decision.. no they don't do it.

    At another insistence, I felt that something is not very right in the way that it is going on.. but they married off their daughter within a very very short span and the marriage lived for a short span too.

    In all the four situations, the girls were well educated, scored good percentages. They have good social skills, but they didn't choose to take a step out except in the last case. Here, her parents choose to support her, but all this heartbreak would not have been there if they paused for few minutes before rushing into the marriage / if the girl in question choose to stand-up for herself. But all of us, blame us on the situations, destiny.. but is it not something that (situations/ destiny) we are shaping with our actions?

    So, I agree with you Education alone will never the provide the required empowerment until unless there is something more to the person. Earlier, I used to ridicule when someone says that because of the family or for siblings, they stick to the marriage, but now I can see from where they are coming from, Though I still think it is better to be selfish in such issues. Thanks for the post Satchi, it helped me to vent out the frustrations I had in mind in which I was merely a spectator.

    P.S - After posting I have realised, it has become lengthier than your post. :hide:sorry for that.
     
    10 people like this.
  3. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Dear Satchi,

    From elite to downtrodden everyone does the same thing of sticking to a relationship because of social pressure. A person develops a character as she grows and that should be substantive. There should never be confusion between loving the family with standing up for abuses. A woman who fights with her husband and walks away because of his abuses should never be considered as insensitive to the efforts of the parents in getting her married. Parents did everything to make their daughter happy and if she is not happy, what is the point in continuing that relationship?

    Education definitely helps them to stand on their own legs but if they don't have determination and courage to do that, education becomes useless. Living a false life creates a conflict in the mind as the woman pretends to be happy. It affects the children's growth and development.

    Traditionally, we have made it a practice that women are responsible for home and man is responsible to make a living. Now most families have both working, how is it fair to have only women responsible for home? There has to be responsibilities for both. The concept of women leaving her family to live with her husband is a misnomer. No woman should be considered as leaving her family and in fact, her status changes from single to married like in case of a man. Both parents should be respected by the spouses and supported. I am not against joint families as long as a woman who is married to that family lives happily ever after. Joint family system should be need based. I mean if the parents of wife need support, they move in as well.

    Society and social habits are sum total of individual behaviors in each family. We tie ourselves into that shackle and can be removed if a few makes bold steps. Sometimes, I feel that the person concerned should stand up first irrespective of whether there is support from other family members or not. Change won't happen by doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

    Viswa
     
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  4. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Dear Pallavi,

    Can fully understand your frustration and helplessness. Unless someone wants to stand up for themselves and want to be helped, there is nothing anyone else can do.
    In fact some months ago, I had asked WF why she does not throw out her husband. At that time she said "what will I tell my children when they grow up"? I felt just the same way you feel. However, it now looks like that sanity has finally prevailed and the time had come for her to say "enough is enough".

    Just hope and pray more and more women decide to be strong, otherwise nothing is going to change.
     
  5. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    You have hit the nail on the head Viswa. As long as we mindlessly stick to unfair "social mores" just to gain acceptance and try to bend backwards fearing "what people will say", nothing will change and no one can help us.

    Respect for parents and concern for the family and consequences of one's actions on the future of siblings is one thing, but it should never mean living in abject misery and unhappiness for life. That would be a sin. Tolerance of injustice is as much of a crime as heaping injustice on others. Isn't this what the Geeta tells us?
     
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  6. Balajee

    Balajee IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Stchi, the point is these lpoorer classes have fewer inhibitions than middle and upper middle class people./ The notion of middle class values like the archaic notion of Patui OParmeshwar is more ingrained in the upper classes and even among educated women. They are concerned about society what the near and dear ones will think if they take an extreme step like ending the marriage. But these poorer classes don't give a damn. Edicatopnn does not necessarily inculcate an independent spirit, It has to come on its own through our character and our interaction with those around us.
     
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  7. satchitananda

    satchitananda Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Exactly, Balajee. That is just what brought to mind the tirade about middle class morality by Doolittle in "My Fair Lady". You have put it very succinctly. A few certificates do not emancipate anybody. True emancipation has to come from inside.

    I guess one more reason for the reluctance of women from the middle class to walk out from a "secure" environment is the fear of the unknown, whereas these women from the lower socio-economic classes do not really have much to lose. They are already suffering badly. It could not get worse. It is probably at this point that people gather the courage to fight back.
     
  8. justanothergirl

    justanothergirl IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Dear Satchi...Relationships are very complicated. As an outsider it is very hard to fully comprehend the dynamics between a couple. We might see lovey-dovey pics on FB or be a witness to fights /rants ..but there is usually more ..much more than meets the eye. And its hard to walk out on a marriage.... social pressure or otherwise. Even in societies where women are financially independent with practically no social stigma attached to divorce..people still hang on to their marriages for as long as they can. I guess its just very hard to walk away from all that emotional attachment. What will others say..money.... all these might be just excuses the heart comes up with.
     
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  9. shyamala1234

    shyamala1234 Platinum IL'ite

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Dear Satchi,

    Yes, Balaji is right. In poorer classes they don't care for people around them. They take a bold step. In the case of your maid...she doesn't care a damn! Many times in life decisions depend on what is the alternative if I leave the present status.In the present circumstaces remarriage is very very difficult for middle class if not impossible. Middle class thinks about society, what would people say, the person may change or I can change him etc etc. Parents also encourage this type of thinking. It is embedded in the system.

    Courage is one ingredient that is required for everyone. Education has nothing to do with this kind of thinking. Having a job gives financial independence which is very important. But without courage to ask the man to get out or she walking away and fight a legal battle is difficult for them. Reason? No courage. Prepared to suffer. The first step is always difficult. Subsequesnt ones are easier. Of all said and done girls want the comfort zone of family (even if the so called comfort is miserable). So, this makes their decision more and more difficult.
    In richer class they also do not care for sociey. Having loads of money gives them security and nobody raises a voice against them.
    So, bottom line is that girls need courage to make their life worthwhile. Then only things would change. Parents also should give them a support system saying we are there for you always. If they are very old and themselves depending upon others, ill health doesn't permit them sometimes to give help. But as much as possible parents have a big role to give support to the daughter.
    Syamala
     
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  10. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Education = Empowrment, Illiteracy = Vulnerability? Think again!

    Satchi,

    Love, Let me tell you very happily education never means intelligence or empowerment, nor illiteracy means dumb. Something i so want people to realise. when i say this around my close circle they look at me differently. i believe education is about being strong enough to tackle a situation well, being bold enough to do what is right and the courage to fight for what is yours.


    I assume the equation, the dynamics of a relationship be it marriage, be it your parents or in-laws or come to think of it our own kids plays a pivotal role.

    there is a old saying "thanga oosinnalum kannla kuttina vallikkum" even if it is a golden needle, it pains equally when it pierces the eye. so many of us tend to accept the -ves, or we tend to be more magnanimous than Sri krishna who only gave a 100 pardons to shishupala. what could be the reason,I always wonder, are we really that kind hearted and forgiving by nature, are we social animals who become depedent emotionally that we tend to think of some of our close people as the strengths rather than being able to look at them as they are.

    We believe society is too harsh on people, but tend to forget that we are also part of the society, and change starts with the change from inside us. Easy said, but very difficult to apply. That first step is the most difficult one for anybody, more so if there are innocent lives inter-wined. The first step needs a lot of support, encouragement and risk taking capacity. Research shows that most of us are conservative in our risk taking abilities. maybe that is also one of the factors.


    we are people who have been told marriage is a wonderful institution and the belief in the institution is ingrained in us for so long.. there is that small grain of hope that makes people hang on to it??

    For example.A and b are two strangers,(very wealthy, well educated) united by marriage. 3 months down the lane they feel incompatible, and what do they do..they try to adjust, understand, and then if there is more complexity, the parents are roped in, then the counsellors. nobody goes in for a divorce or separation unless it is necessary. There is more to the institution of marriage than what we tend to portray or want to see..there is that inner lying strength of emotional bonding that happens..we are in a jet-set world and want fast track results, but still give a lot of lee-way to make it work. do you think it has something to do with the society, the parents, or the money spent on the marriage, or is it peer pressure. i would love to believe there is an invisible something that makes us want to try a little more before dropping it..

    I believe, empowering your children
    with the belief, that you respect their wishes, their decisions, and will stand by them, without interfering too much is a healthy way to make them believe in themselves which would go a long way. many a times, the child does not learn about the available choices, or the choices are done by the parents, that as he/she sometimes don't really analyze them. teaching them that Family is important but so is SELF. sacrificing/crucifying the SELF in the name of any relationship is not necessary, because I believe as parents the father and the mother are two tracks that enable the individual (child) to be on track and reach his/her destination smoothly.

    Sometimes empowerment comes from the moment of realisation that ENOUGH is Enough, when everything else ceases to matter than the self-set priorities be it the children, be it self.

    P.S. Change is happening, but do you really believe that all the divorces, walk-out are for real worthy reasons. there are times i really think (when i hear of reasons for separation) "OMG! seriously, for such a silly reason" and then i reprimand myself "S, what looks silly for you as the outsider could be a break/make reason for the couple involved" (jag is absolutely right. no two couples are the same though we want to believe they could be..) and there are times when i wish i could influence the thoughts subtly " please walk out, enough is enough, there is not much reason here to hang on" but then you step aside and wait,without interfering knowing that the person involved needs to understand that and ask for support..

     
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