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Damn Family Values January 10, 2012

Religious heads, struggling politicians, demoralized grandmothers, all refer wistfully to something called ‘family values’. This umbrella term is another way of talking about everything that’s ‘good’ and ‘wholesome’ and ‘clean’. Actually, it’s a euphemism for the status quo ante, as it existed a hundred years ago. It is a desire for something that never was and never will be, an unquestioning and unchanging way of life in which every member of the family performs their designated role with good humour and honesty, thus maintaining order and harmony. In my opinion, that isn’t a human family, it’s a Barbie spoof. Something that never changes and is immutable doesn’t exist in the universe. Even a rock changes shape over a period of time, letting go of its clay bit by bit, until one day it falls off the cliff.
Interestingly, family values do not rear their ugly head in the august presence of a man. He is considered all right. No, he isn’t perfect, but then who is? More to the point, it isn’t the man’s job to nurture family values, it’s the woman’s. The man is expected to stay away from home, presumably to do some important work, and bring home a pay cheque regularly. The woman, on the other hand, is the custodian of all that’s good and moral and right aka old-fashioned. What are these family values? Nobody knows. But judging by the context in which this term is spoken, my guess is that they refer to unquestioning obedience, obedience to convention, to society, and of course, to the man of the house. Here’s a list of things that I imagine a woman must do in order to uphold family values:
1. Rise early, bathe and go to the temple daily
2. Cook for the entire household
3. Be at the beck and call of all the elders in the house
4. Never fall ill. Being ill is akin to malingering, a cardinal sin
5. Never question anything
6. Never ask, wait for things to be given
7. Never, ever, ever be rational
The first point will be emphasised by religious leaders, the second by the husband, the third by the irate mother-in-law, the fourth by the children, and the last three by all of these entities. Compromise with any of these and you are jeopardising the family.
Well, why not? Why not jeopardise the family? Why not assert yourself as a rational, moral and sexual being whose first desire is to be free, free from all dogma and subjugation? If family values means being always servile in your ecosystem, then damn family values. And if this means, damn the family, so be it!

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2 Responses to “Damn Family Values”

  1. blueyogi Says:

    I took a while to comment on this since it shocks… initially.

    I think the title would have been better as “Damn Family Stereotypes”. Of course we males have similar pressures. We are expected to make money, protect the family from threats… etc. Much of this is etymologically as a behavior evolution from primates.

    But do i sense a hippie angst in your blog? Seems like we are in the early 60’s 🙂 Coupled with Ayn Rand’s “Virtue of Selfishness”.

    Haven’t seen this in a long time !!

  2. sangeetamall Says:

    Yogi

    You’re right, we are in the sixties – well, a lot of us, in fact the vast majority. Look at the popularity of soap operas with their stereotypes of the modern, scheming witch contrasted with the obedient, ‘strong’ Shakti woman. Aren’t we indicating that a strong woman is strong only as long as she follows ‘family values’, otherwise she’s a caricature?

    More when we meet!


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