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Do you ever get a sense that desi women tolerate abuse more than women here? As in, perhaps several of the things we identify as abusive in the US aren’t even considered abuse in the context of this culture yet?

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I think the root of the problem is the poor job we do socializing the sexes at a young age. Men and women grow up with a warped sense of gender roles and sexuality. Women are fed heavy doses of misogyny through marriage and child bearing expectations that necessitate them giving up a good portion of their economic and social independence. In that context, abuse is pervasive and easier for folks to dismiss as, “this is Indian culture.” Men can be numbingly obtuse regarding women’s bodies, health, and sexuality. And men are not incentivized to challenge the prevalent patriarchy because they are in-line to benefit down the road. This does not mean men are automatically abusive, rather the dynamic does not enable men to recognize abusive behavior in both themselves and their peers. I think as a culture, we need to expedite women’s rights and independence - the prevailing norm is still to have women marry and raise kids while absolving men of that responsibility and in turn placing disproportionately higher stress on them to be the bread winners. This equation needs to be balanced.

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There’s likely a wide range in tolerance but I do think desi culture is more abusive to women. Like you said, it’s so a part of the culture that people (of all genders) don’t even stop to think that it’s problematic.

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I do get that sense. More so because there are a lot of things that are ingrained in us and are expected out of us. Also the concept of boundaries is non existent in desi families to an extent, so we end up doing a lot of things to meet expectations and avoid guilt.

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This is a very delicate topic, particularly for people born in the US who are Indian. We are culturally conditioned to define abuse based on what our surrounding culture defines as abuse. When some of these things that fall into the American abuse/injustice category happen at the hands of Indians who are culturally conditioned in India to not view them as abuse or injustice it can be extremely traumatizing for those of us brought up in the US. I’ve even seen little kids being slapped or hit with cricket bats there and was mortified! But that is normal abroad. On a milder level in reverse if the US is culturally conditioned to make appointments to see people, and we go to India talking to our Indian relatives with the same expectations they will perceive it as rude. How do we create a context-independent definition of abuse, and how do we prevent prevalence from turning into normalization and therefore tolerance of that abuse?

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M2 I have been in relationships with desi guys and you’d be very surprised at what they don’t consider abuse. “Any normal sane Indian” is basing his or her definition of normal on the sample population he or she was and is exposed to during upbringing, so those terms normal, sane turn into subjective standards. It’s odd because for some their masks in front of others turn into the acceptable standard then they go home and mask comes off. I can’t tell if they’re doing it on purpose or if they think the masked version of their behavior is nonsense. But it has registered as abuse.

I do think it applies to a certain category of women. In the urban place, maybe likely not but from the rural areas, of course I do think they’re subjected to more abuse, unfortunately. I also see that many women of a older generation might tolerate abuse to an extent.. but generalizing it, I’m not sure.

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What do you mean? Examples please. I am a desi woman and I seem to have a very low threshold for BS and abuse. And I am saying this after spending more than 2 years with white friends in relationships.

I agree it exists, but I never had to face it! People are politically correct and paint india with the same brush, but certain regions are more progressive than others. Depends on which kind of men you have interacted with. Men in my circle have never made comments like that, not to my face at least. That kind of behaviour is not tolerable. About the cheating bit, never seen that as well! I tend to think indian men are more family oriented in general. Being nosy than usual is a part of indian culture and I have learnt to ignore it or talk back! A lot of women do to preserve their sanity! As long as it’s not your family, I wouldn’t worry too much about some random person’s opinions. If you think a guy is sexist, move on!

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Yes!!!!! Let’s have this conversation. This is long overdue. #1. America is not a great analog for women’s rights and any Desi woman that wants that should read about Americans’ attitude about abortion, women taking time off for childbirth, timing of voting rights for women vs date of independence for US vs India, General attitude towards women. #2. Women’s rights organizations have fought for ridiculous and confusing arguments. Creating an environment of pain and suffering for both sexes and the crazy Homelife that Americans have created for their kids. So when you start wanting to label things as abuse, in-effect you are heading towards the same slippery slope (poor domestic life, divorce, broken family life) 3. No one is stopping anyone from walking out. That right is safeguarded in India and US

Just remember that you can’t have it both ways. Pick one societal norm, you can’t have the privilege that Indian women get with the hair-trigger “abuse” label privilege that American women have (specifically white women). You can’t have it both ways!

I’ve been struggling with this myself because my wife and I have been working with a therapist on how to confront my dad’s emotional abuse. He has been caught up in “I AM FATHER, WHAT I SAY MUST BE OBEYED” because he can’t grasp that we’re not children anymore.

Yup boundaries, control issues, patriarchy

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