“Whose line is this anyway”

Arshid Malik
Even though it has been proposed and propagated all along that Kashmir is a patriarchal society, I do not subscribe to the view and happen to believe that the gender character of our society is matriarchal. Our men might be loud mouthed but when it comes to decisions regarding home and family, women set the pace of things.
I am not suggesting that every married male is a henpecked husband around here, but then we cannot ignore what is more than obvious. The truth is that we stand caught in a Westernized debate of the sexes, which has for a long time now been about women’s liberation. When we analyze our society from within cultural indices, the global debate about male domination does not absolutely hold true for Kashmir. Men around here are managing their affairs and women folk are managing theirs and the overlapping of the “division of labour” is never to the tune of exploitation or subjugation, even though there might be scattered examples of such relationships but these are exceptions and do not comprise the rules.
When I write more about this, the protagonists of women’s liberation (ahem, the Westernized juncture of the debate), would be up in arms against me and my ideas. But, I am proud to confess that I cannot behold my thoughts for the sake of rejection by generalized, inflexible and contained points of view.
When I look back at how things were when I was a kid, I remember my grandmother (paternal) who took great pleasure in ordering the house around by nature of the powers vested in her by the household, which was a part of a larger community and thereof a nation. Until the very point she breathed her last, she was in command of everything. The men folk, including my father were more of the “hunter-gatherer” types who would go around earning a living during the day and retire to the small talk of the women folk in the evening. Things have not changed ever since she passed away. Every part of the joint family that used to be and now a nuclear family is led by the women and same holds true about other families I have known.
The women, especially the elderly run the house straight from the kitchen. Men are vividly mistaken if they have come to believe in the extempore Westernized point of view. Basking in the incandescent effervescence of the daily soaps that our women watch, we often tend to nurture an attitude that we are eventually going to get our hands on the remote control and watch our news hour that somehow tells us that we are in charge. Dear brethren, who has the major share here???
Men are tunneling their way in and out of daily labour to build dream houses, conduct marriages (which again are feminine “infestations”), buy the food, the clothes and all other things and at the end of the day have a word brawl with the women folk that they cannot do one single thing right. Things have changed a little bit around the corner as women are also earning now. Now they have the upper hand to what was being handed over to them.
Women are the connoisseurs of household and what is there to life beyond the household for a married man? Not much.
I would again press the point that there are certain scattered cases where subjugation of women cannot and should not be ruled out and this is brought about by a particular trait of particular men, who I would say are not right in the head. The rest of us, men folk, follow our women and it is certainly not something to be ashamed of.


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