Friday, December 18, 2015

Ask Firangi Bahu: "My Indian husband thinks periods are impure!"


(Img via Eden Bachar)

Sharing a letter from a reader...


"Hi Alexandra,

I am writing you today to ask for some marriage advice. My husband is Tamil, and he comes from quite a conservative family. I am American, but I converted to Hinduism for him, and I happily lead the life of an Indian wife in the U.S.. We have been married for five months and we did not live together before marriage, because we both did not believe in it. Prior to that, we have known each other for a year. My husband is a kind person, smart, ambitious and affectionate - but he has some archaic beliefs regarding periods and menstruation - as many South Indian men do. Obviously, I only realized this after marriage, since we did not live together before and the topic never really came up.

He will not touch me while I have my period - not even a kiss, hug, or handshake. Not even a cuddle!!! Now I know some guys can be freaked out by periods, but this is just too much. He treats me as if I were diseased for the duration of my cycle. If I cook dinner for us during my period, he will not eat the food I have made. He claims I am "impure" and "dirty". He actually said that to my face. I couldn't believe it.

Because of this, every single month we have been fighting. I have grown tired of being treated like a diseased person for a week out of the month. I have tried to tell him that periods are completely natural, but he refuses to listen to me, and instead calls his mother up so that she can lecture me about "womanly problems" and how I should respect his space. He said that in his family, the women go and sit in a shed outside the house when they menstruate, and that I should be LUCKY that I do not have to do that. Which is absurd, because we live in the US!!! I feel like he calls his mother as back up and they are all teaming up on me. He says that I married into HIS family, and that I should understand their beliefs and act accordingly. But I cannot bring myself to respect this belief, because it is scientifically and ethically wrong.

Everything is fine when I don't have my period, but when I do have it, we are always fighting about this. It has created a paranoia in our relationship. Sometimes before kissing me, he will make sure that I am not on my period. I feel like kicking him out when I have it, but we have to find a way to cohabitate. My American friends do not understand at all when I tell them about this. I really don't know what to do. I have sent him articles about periods being natural and healthy, but he doesn't believe me. I do not believe that having periods is "impure", and in fact these same periods make me fertile and the same egg will one day produce a baby for us. It is a big turn off that he thinks this way, and I have no idea what I can do to change it....I have nobody to talk to because nobody understands. Do we have to live like this? How can you change this mindset that he has had for 32 years? More than that, him calling his mother about this bothers me. And she is a woman too! She should make him understand that periods are not impure..."

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Dear readers, I am personally at a loss for words. How can this bahu get past this?
What would YOU do if you were in her shoes?
Have you come across Indian men/families who have these beliefs about menstruation?
CAN you do anything to change it?
Has anyone ever treated you like you were diseased? Is it insulting?

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40 comments

  1. Growing up amongst so many Hindu friends I can totally empathize with you. Even I was shocked when I learnt that their moms or any family member of theirs don't touch them when they have periods. Even to this day i haven't quite understood their impurity logic when its a natural phenomenon. Your husband needs to sort himself out. It can be a major problem in future when you have a baby girl. Also I understand that you're involved with his traditions and culture because you love him. But you don't have to do it especially at the cost of your misery. Also why did you convert to Hinduism? If you did it solely for the sake of pleasing your in laws or husband then its gonna be quite difficult. You cannot continue to please them your entire life.

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    1. Maybe she converted to Hinduism(which allows you full freedom of worship - including Church) because she was not interested in a misogynist belief system that would force her to believe that her husband would be tortured for eternity no matter how good he is in life.

      About the belief about periods:
      This is a Bible(Christian) belief that somehow found a way into the life of some isolated and superstitions Indians(probably due to British influence).
      Google for Levitivus 15:19-30. I quote the Holy Bible:
      19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

      20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean.

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    2. Oh yeah. Looks like you know her very well. The church doesn't obey the verse you've quoted. Even in India, menstruating women attend service. Nobody decides for them whether they can/can't attend.
      Also not everyone takes the bible seriously because several pastors have claimed that the book contradicts itself. So yes, your feeble attempt to discredit Christian belief about the impure state of a menstruating woman has failed.
      "Maybe she converted to Hinduism(which allows you full freedom of worship - including Church) because she was not interested in a misogynist belief system that would force her to believe that her husband would be tortured for eternity no matter how good he is in life."
      What gibberish is this? Are you under the implication that all women practicing Christianity are forced to believe the nonsense you've stated? Sheesh.
      Susan

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    3. Abrahamic religions are curse on the face of earth. They wiped out whole latin americas indeginious population numbering in millions.
      these evangelist people even tried to kill native american population by spreading small pox and chicken pox among them.
      Now susan if you are a christian how can you choose to believe some aspects of bible and not the other ones.because as a christian your free will is confined in only beliving bible or refusing to believe it as a whole because jesus had preached bible line by line. So if you refuse to believe certain aspects of bible then you are commitng blasphemy. And you know that if someone commit blasphemy then that person rots in hell for ETERNITY according to bible. Now Eternity is a very long time fortunately we himdus are exempted from it as we believe in reincarnation.


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    4. Not sure why Christianity is relevant to this discussion since both the LW and her husband are Hindu.

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    5. My beliefs are none of your business.
      Treating one's wife like a diseased person whilst she is menstruating is atrocious. A crime against human nature. Not Christianity or Hinduism. So why are you copy pasting the verses of Bible here and there? I DON'T CARE.

      Alex, I'm sorry for spamming this post with irrelevant comments. Looks like this person is totally not getting it. Feel free to not post this.
      Susan

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    6. I am the first anonymous that Susan replied to. (I am not the anonymous that replied TO her earlier). I am Jain, Hindu, Buddhist(all-in-one) .
      I believe in equality of men and women.I know temples in Maharashtra where the Pujari (priest) is a female and she works there everyday.
      P, it is relevant because I wanted ladies who are married to Indians to understand that the absurd impure thing is not a BhagwatGita issue but a superstition held by isolated Indians(none that I personally know) that came due to the influence of other religions. Once they know this, their husbands will have not have an excuse to use this silly superstition against them. Susan, I am glad to hear that most Churches do not follow this anymore.

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    7. And Susan, I have no time to and no interest in discrediting any religion.

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  2. How awful for you, original poster. Is there someone he respects, an educated person, who might perhaps be on your side and be willing to discuss this with him? Could you attend a doctor's office together?

    I notice you didn't mention your family at all. Is there truly no one from your side who can stand by you, support you, and defend you to your husband?

    I have heard of this belief in South Indian culture, and have also heard that the women of the house who are menstruating are not allowed in the kitchen or in the presence of elders. How demeaning to a woman, to suffer this humiliation every month, simply because her body is following a natural biological process.

    With the articles you sent him, he probably thinks, "Bah! You can find anything written on the internet/magazines/etc." Given his reaction to that, I feel the best lead now is to actually meet with someone he respects, or who is in a profession he respects (i.e., doctor) and have them discuss with him the biological and scientific side of menstruation.

    I'm sad that you're dealing with this, and wish I had better advice for you. I belief that Lauren of EnglishWifeIndianLife has dealt with something similar, in her South Indian family, so perhaps she'd be able to offer some insight.

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  3. This is really ridiculous.
    Could you try taking him to a gynecologist who could explain the female reproductive system?
    - Rebecca

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  4. Hi there! I am a 25 year old guy born, brought up and living in India. Your husband needs to be more understanding and sensitive to your needs. Honestly, the idea of sex when my girlfriend is bleeding does not appeal to me (and her) but cuddling, kissing and just lying talking is the same as during rest of the days of the month. Your husband is behaving in an extreme manner which maybe due to deep mental conditioning by his family, society all through his 30 odd years. Menstruation is a taboo in ancient Indian customs because it is believed that the aura of a woman changes during this time, making her more susceptible to attack by negative forces (viz.disembodied bodies looking for physical bodies/rebirth, as they identify this state with reproduction cycle). Your husband is 32 years old and he should be mature enough to be supportive during these days. Have you had a serious heart to heart with him? Have you told him how humiliating his actions make you feel for something natural and not in your control? If patience and love hasn't resolved this issue, then you need to be firm and put your foot down. If he loves you, he will understand.

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    1. Sikander, I am really happy to read your comment
      I can't tell you how proud I am feeling
      We need guys like you in India

      Thanks for being the way you are :)

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  5. What you have mentioned is very common in south indian families. And sadly the husband here will not listen to his wife for any time soon. When women have their periods they are not supposed to go to the kitchen, sleep on the bed, touch their own clothes, eat on a plate, touch their kids, take the name of god, go out of the house, work, travel, be seen or heard by other family members specially their husbands. They are supposed to eat or drink whatever is doled out to them at the door of their room. Other family members will not come inside the room also. Sharing a bathroom is taboo. The most absurd belief is that if they see idols of gods, the gods lose their powers - a woman does not have the power to improve her own life but has the power to diminish gods power. Its true! Ask your mother in law.
    And talking to any doctor unfortunately will not help. The only way this poor woman will be able to find respite is if she can find some older lady from her husband's community or best his family to counsel him on the absurdity of following 'madi as it is called in telugu' in US. Scientific talk will not help. In matters of faith science does not work. It is believed amongst telugus that if women do not follow these isolation rules, their children will be adversely effected!!! I am talking by personal experience. Even his panditji told him that all these rules cannot be followed in this day and age in a Hyderabad apartment. But he continued to follow what his mother said... No matter what I said was of no use. Things improved for me only when he saw it for himself that his sister did not follow anything and his mother was perfectly fine with it.
    This poor girl has no real support system. And by converting to hinduism she has unwittingly compounded her own problems. To marry an Indian you should have a fairly thick skin. And yes ask him to follow all the traditions to totality. Let him make food for her, lay out her clothes, give her water, clean the house etc. For 3 days he has to wait hand and foot over her. And of course don't go to work. Best option - offor to leave your job. Traditional hindu women do not work. Believe me shock therapy works. And men want the best from both the worlds - in the house the wife should live like grandmother used to live and when outside, she should be a modern woman capable of working, bringibg home the dough and fighting her own battles. Practically no woman has such split personalities.
    And add to these expectations of husbands, mothers and sisters of the husbands keep trying to destabilize their marriage by invoking archaic rules and in some cases making up rules nobody has heard of. My husband's family panditji (hindu equivalent of priest) even said of some rules that my mother in law says are mandatory for me - that they do not exist. But husband didn't listen to me - you come from a different area, even branding me and my family unbelievers.
    This is a very tough situation. As someone older the worst omen I see is that the husband is uncompromising which is bad to a marriage. And add to it, his umbilical cord is still intact.
    I have observed that many a family agrees to their son marrying as per his wishes. And after the marriage the family members - read mother and sister take out the tradition and culture genie out of the bottle. All known and unknown traditions are dug up to harass the bride. Usually the blind worship of the mother by the son and the guilt of not respecting the mother's choice of bride results in the marriage breaking down or weakening to the extent that the couple have no marriage left. Sorry Alexandra there are enough mother in laws in India who are home breakers. There is paapam involved in breaking a sparrow's nest but no paapam involved in breaking a woman's home...
    I know what I have written is harsh, but it is the unadultareted truth of indian marriages. Please feel free to edit this. I don't want to alarm this young woman but on the other hand I don't want her to live in a fool's paradise also.

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    1. You are so incredibly spot on. WELL SAID! The whole period unclean thing is ridiculous and frankly you need to tell your husband to shape up or ship out, it speaks fundamentally of a lack of respect and common sense, scary to think ppl like this move out of India but bring its ridiculous aspects with them. Tell him he would not be on this planet WITHOUT his mother having had periods.

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    2. Bulls eye!!!!!!

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  6. Oh, please. My husband is from a super-orthodox Tamil Brahmin family and he would never dream of treating me like this. Besides, if your husband was such a conservative Hindu, he should not have crossed the oceans to come to the U.S. in the first place.

    http://historicalleys.blogspot.com/2009/01/hindus-and-ocean-taboo.html

    Sorry, hun. This has nothing to do with "tradition", he is just a nasty piece of work.

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    1. Spot on!!!!
      If he is such a traditional rituals following person and if he insists that his family is like that, then in the first place he SHOULD NOT CROSS THE SEA because according to tradition crossing the sea is a very big sin. So LW, please ask him why he broke tradition and crossed the sea to come live in the US and then why he broke tradition to marry a foreigner which is another thing he did.
      I am very sorry to say this, but your husband basically is a nasty person who just wants his way in life!!!

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    2. The crossing of river was never a taboo it was only taboo for warriors .

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    3. Yes there exists a rule that people from the upper castes will not cross the ocean. And it also excluded foreign travel. Till today the priests of Tirumala are not allowed to go abroad. If they go abroad they are not allowed to participate in the actual idol worship. There is a pashchatap (atonement) - dutifully described in the scriptures for every possible sin except - crossing the seas. As per the scriptures anybody who crosses the seas loses is caste (read high caste :D) and becomes one of the lowest of the low. lol
      A couple of generations ago families of overseas travelers were excommunicated :)

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  7. I am totally speechless. I can sit here and be brutal about my response but I am just going to answer two of Alexandra's questions:

    1)"What would YOU do if you were in her shoes"- I will never tolerate this archaic, insulting, ignorant and demeaning behavior. I will nip it in the butt the first time and if no change is reached (there cannot be any compromise here) I would pick up my broken heart and move on with my life. This is not acceptable ANYWHERE!!! This is no way to live.

    2) "Has anyone ever treated you like you were diseased? Is it insulting" - never have and never will. I will just not allow this. There is no way that I will be sent back to the stone age to please or conform to some ridiculous Indian belief. I will never change myself like this to please ANYONE. And yes, this is highly insulting and demeaning.

    I suggest to head over to boilingwok's blog and read her menstruation section.

    Millie B

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  8. This is not the first time I hear this period taboo thing. I knew a few ladies in South India who were conditioned all their lives to believe this garbage.

    I think you need to give your husband a taste of his own medicine. He doesn't want to touch you or have anything to do with you during your periods? FINE get out, do all the thing you truely enjoy, without him, if you can go and stay at a best friend's place during that time do it. But not before you stocked up the pantry with the most horrid read to eat canned food you can find. Let him fend for himself in the kitchen, I bet that if he is as backwardly traditional at this, he might not really be into kitchen things. If he calls you don't pick up, if he brings it up when you come back from your mentruation exile, announce on the most serious tone that you cared too much about him to risk contaminating him with your impurity over the phone. If his MIL lectures you for your behaviour, tell her that you can't have your cake and eat it too. She believes in this crap, she taught her son to believe in this crap, they have to accept the consequences.

    Meanwhile have a monthly girly movie and girl nights 3 days fest, it beats arguing with your husband over something he is really not willing to change through fact. Chances a few months of you giving him the cold treatment and replying to all his period induced questions with sarcasm will.

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  9. If rational argument and discussion have failed, I can suggest 2 options

    -one, as already suggested by someone upthread, is to enlist the help of another woman who comes from the same family who can talk some sense into the husband and make him see how futile and cruel these traditions he insisted on upholding are

    -two, if that fails, I would suggest taking this tradition to its extreme . Check into the fanciest hotel in town when you have your period (after all tradition demands that the woman leaves the house), order in your favorite food, and take your own sweet time to come back home (gotta make sure there no impurity left!). Refuse to speak to his mother, as it is disrespectful to talk to elders when you have your period. Make your period as conveniently long as you wish it to be.

    If this doesn't work I don't know what will.
    your husband's attitude is a complete deal breaker for me. As a south indian woman, the excuse of tradition does not cut it. Many families have done away with this custom, and it is genuinely rare/disappointing to find an educated man born in the last three decades who clings to these beliefs (even if his mother does so)

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  10. This is garbage. Not sure what this has to do with being Indian. (my husband is also Indian).

    First, it might help if understands basic biology. Please take him to your OBGYN. Secondly, what you mention about being conservative and converting for marriage, this is potential disaster in waiting. The premise and basis for being together seems flawed. Good luck....

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  11. During the olden days women had to do all the household chores,which were heavy duty compared to today's. They used to wake up at 3-4am and continue working throughout the day till 11-12at night. Such work during the periods would have been detrimental for the health of women. Hence the wise men in the society made a rule that women should not be touched during their periods, they should be kept separate from the rest of the family members,anything she touches is taboo and should not be used by others. Basically this all ensured that she gets rest for all the days when she menstruates and does not have to do any work in the house. This was attached to faith /belief so that common people listen without question and follow it. This was required in those times. But it is still followed in many conservative families /communities across India even today. You can get the help of a Hindu Tamil priest/elder who might be able to change his mind and explain to him the futility of following this practise in today's times. Or you make him practise the tradition to the T. You are supposed to take complete rest. No work. Eating 'Satvik' pious, homecooked meals all through the day, do not do any work. Not even entertain any guests.
    Even in India many people do not follow it. In todays senario where there are nuclear families, if there are only females in the family, then the husband will have to do all the household work for atleast 2 weeks every month. I do not think your husband or any Indian guy would be ready to do the household work. Please do not go to any doctor or third person. Find a respected and trusted female family member, either his age, his mothers age or older. Start talking to his female family members,ask them questions about this practise.Tell them how you do not like it and are not happy following it. You should be able to find someone who maybe able to get through to him. Even if his belief is not changed but if they are able to convince him that as he is not in India and has married a foreigner,which is not as per tradition, he should not follow and force you to follow such customs. I am a Maharashtrian Brahmin female from India. My mother tells me that such practices were strictly followed in her maternal family only till her grandmother was alive. Though I have seen them being followed even today in many communities.
    Aboli

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  12. This has NOTHING to do with Hinduism. It is NOT even mentioned in the
    Bhagwadgeeta (the Bible equivalent in Hinduism).I know lots of Hindus - men and women - and their traditions - and never heard of this. If anyone believes this 'impure nonsense' it is out of their personal stupidity.

    In fact, THIS IS FROM THE BIBLE:

    BIBLE LEVITICUS 15:19-30 New International Version (NIV)

    19 “‘When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening.

    20 “‘Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 22 Anyone who touches anything she sits on will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, they will be unclean till evening.

    24 “‘If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.

    25 “‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. 26 Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. 27 Anyone who touches them will be unclean; they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.

    28 “‘When she is cleansed from her discharge, she must count off seven days, and after that she will be ceremonially clean. 29 On the eighth day she must take two doves or two young pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 30 The priest is to sacrifice one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. In this way he will make atonement for her before the Lord for the uncleanness of her discharge.

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    1. You never heard about it, but it is seen even in famous movies...

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  13. the whole pure impure thing is religious and that is where it should remain. since Hinduism attaches physical purity with spiritual purity there is some justification for women not entering temples or participating in poojas. though in some religions like Sikhism does not have this restriction, I have read somewhere.



    This fellow is probably a brahmin and for them religious is mixed with all aspects of life. He probably thinks that his wife'a unclean state would contaminate his spritual purity. plus these things are not openly discussed in India so there this perception continues. This is a religious and belief problem so the solution has to be religious too. If nothing works then shock treatment as advised on the previous comments could always be used.

    We were forced to let go of these things because they were impractical in this day and age and also because women in cities have access to better means to manage these days. unfortunately this is not the case in rural area.

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  14. Sorry - do I get where this comes from - yes? Would I EVER accept it? Absolutely not!

    At a practical level how would I advise? This may sound chauvinistic (but sometimes to deal with male prejudice, you gotta stoop to their level), get a proper TamBram (I'm making an assumption here of your hubby) who your husband respects and will listen to that long ago abandoned such archaic notions to talk some sense into him.

    Bottom line, if you stay in this marriage... how do you want your daughter to be treated? Certainly not like this so stop putting up with it now else you will carry scars and scar your daughter in ways you cannot today predict.

    This behaviour is typically not even accepted in most parts of 'modern' India now either so... get your hubby to get with the times. I wouldn't be the least surprised that he has male cousins in India that would never under any circumstances treat their wives this way. Again - sorry but this is not acceptable.

    And apologies for another bit of unsolicited advice - I do not know what is actually going on but this seems a sign of something else not just the surface level issue. I'm not normally a 'buttinsky' but this scenario screams "unhealthy".

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  15. Hmm... I feel really sorry for you, LW. But unfortunately, I think it's going to be difficult to change your husband's ideas. He is already 32 years old and it's his tradition. As a hindu yourself, you may be able to understand where he's coming from. If not, it may be a good time to research about this. Just remember that there are many aspects to hinduism and that brahamanism is only one aspect of it - especially in South India. For instance, I believe in some hindu cults, devotees have sex during menstruation.

    Then, how about western traditions around bleeding ? In Europe, menstruating women where not allowed to go in the larder, make preserves or even mayonnaise sauce... Some Jewish women have to see the rabbi after each period, before they are allowed to have sex... More importantly, in some traditions bleeding is considered as a sacred time, where women are very close to the spirit world, and should spend a lot of me-time and pay extra attention to their dreams. I believe in this : periods are a sacred time, but in the end, menstruation and childbirth are really women's business.

    In our house, there was a time when we used to fight each time my hubby was vegetarian (minimum twice a week). He was always in a bad mood. And I didn't understand on those days he was not only refraining from meat, he didn't want any elaborate meal, it was a kind a fast, and he would spend hours cleaning the house and himself before preparing food. So he wouldn't eat my food and I would get very upset. So now I take advantage of this and I let him cook and clean on these days, and I eat the food he makes :)

    I think only you two can work around this issue, and find a win-win solution. I can only give you one advice : try not to be rigid, don't overthink and keep your sense of humour. Let him cook for you and make pots of tea, and keep your feet up. Take care - Pad.

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    1. I will add that in Hinduism, anything related to organic matter is considered impure : blood, saliva, sweat, hair... and of course anything below the waist line is rather impure. That is why barbers, launderers, shoe makers etc are usually Dalits or low caste people, and so are the ladies who massage young mothers in the weeks following birth... Caste hindus don't want to get impure by handling organic matter.

      But whatever the cultural and medical facts, the most important point is your feelings, and your hubby's feelings, and for this only patient and honnest discussions about your basic needs and feelings can help you. - Pad.

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  16. I don't know how are your plans about family planning, if you are not trying to have a baby now maybe you can try an IUD (intra-uterine device). I know it will not solve the cultural issue but you all will be happy to don't have this problem to deal with... Plus It's so confortable to be free of periods :)

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  17. As for me i feel it is olden day pratice, because in olden days india not much sanitary care and women were malnourishment. This was created for them to take rest from housework.If you tell the husbands or inlaw about the real reason they may not agree the lady to get rest so they create the myth of impure. This pratice later goes against the women in male dominant society. Me as indian origin person even my parents would not agree with this pratice. Well in India many women are against at this pratice.

    Things are different now. You can try to explain this.
    I attach some link of the acticle.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4408698/


    But however if he dosent want to change his mind set it is difficult. May be try to get him jealous of you having great time with your friend about two weeks each month (just say long period). Making husband jealous work for me in many time for me and may not for you.

    Kavi

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  18. My MIL whose a Doctor told me the same thing! I went crazy since I had never heard such a thing!! So my husband & I sat her down & explained that we don't follow those kind of beliefs. She had all kinds of explanations but in the end she had to adjust. Its nobody's business when I have my period. My two SILs & Niece follows this tradition & they are supposed to be "modern" This kind of behavior is still accepted in parts of India.

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  19. hmmm...u r husband treating you like old era hindu husband treat their wife...As era changes many hindus developed in facts..i don't understand how he still stuck in rural mindset...many indians are still dominating,so don't ask him to consult doctor instead bring lady doctor to home(tell her to act as you're friend)....explain him about how women body works...how male body works.if he doesn't change ask him why god gave period if it is impure...if he still insist...tell him not to come as it's impure :) :p...hope you sort out this problem and live happy married life..

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  20. Or maybe speak to your local temple priest. In India I have seen the priests to be more sensible and open minded than the mother in laws ;D.

    An incident from the early days of my marriage - There is a rule in my in laws family that a diya (earthen lamp) has to be lit by an incense stick and not a match stick. Now when we went to the temple we forgot to take the incense stick. When my husband went to the swami (as priests are called in andhra) to ask for an incense stick, the swami famously said "a stick is a stick, how does an incense stick become superior to a match stick"? lol...

    And my mother in law also lights lamps in the temple with a match sick, but at home only incense stick..... phew! life is so complicated.....

    I can tell you a hundred such incidents which I used to fret over and now I have conditioned myself to ignore. Moral of the story - these rules, the plethora of them are just meant to control, to keep the daughter in law in her place - why else would you bring them out one by one. One each day? It is up to the husband to see the manipulation and resist it...

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  21. A short documentary about a self group's work on menstruation in South India :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQoINE0YnbY

    and a nice fiction about open air defecation and how mentalities are changing in India
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFmZc9n613k

    Maybe mentalities are changing faster in India than in the diaspora ? (Pad)

    ReplyDelete
  22. threaten him that you would go ahead and remove your uterus if he feels that periods are impure... watch his reaction.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I am an Indian woman born and brought up in India and now living in US married to an American. I have never seen such extreme treatment, though have come across much milder variations of this. I think that it is a reflection of how your husband is taught to treat women by women folks in his own household. A typical controllibg Indian MIL would not want her son to respect and treat any women better than herself and thus sadly equips him with all the tools to demean, control women in his life. Not having a open mind and independent thinking with humanist approch to womem couple with inflated ego can be a big issue with most indian men, and that was the reason i decided early in life not to marry indian man.
    You should stand for yourself and not not let him hide behind religion, tradition etc.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I am an Indian woman born and brought up in India and now living in US married to an American. I have never seen such extreme treatment, though have come across much milder variations of this. I think that it is a reflection of how your husband is taught to treat women by women folks in his own household. A typical controllibg Indian MIL would not want her son to respect and treat any women better than herself and thus sadly equips him with all the tools to demean, control women in his life. Not having a open mind and independent thinking with humanist approch to womem couple with inflated ego can be a big issue with most indian men, and that was the reason i decided early in life not to marry indian man.
    You should stand for yourself and not not let him hide behind religion, tradition etc.

    ReplyDelete

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