How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
The Changing Indian Woman
Kishore Chakraborti, Associate VP and Director, Consumer Insight, McCann Erickson India
There was a time when a woman used to get married to a family. She had a single focus agenda to fit into her new environment and her new role. There were well-defined patriarchal laws for the bahu to be strictly implemented and policed by the matriarch. There were enough people to think and take decisions on her behalf if there were any problems. There was a long line of support system to give relief to the bahu in the form of jethani, devrani, devar from the drudgery and monotony of her daily chore. In this big in-laws club her husband was the nameless introducer who in time used to prepare her for motherhood. Armed with her children she slogged day in and out in her sansar till the baton was passed on to her by her dreaded mother-in-law.
For years she had cribbed and cried and inched her way forward making an effort to live life at her own terms, conscious not to upset the traditional structure.
Then the joint family structure collapsed. The patriarchal noose which tied her to the family day in and out with countless rounds of duty suddenly released her from its network. She found herself in the deep end of the pool of authority in her new and compact family of husband and children, desperately trying to keep herself afloat. There were no readymade guidelines. She had to figure out each and every aspect of not only her own role but also those of the others in her unit. What should be the changed role of husband in the family? How much should he be involved, what would be the cut-off point? Who would be ultimately responsible for the children? What values needed to be inculcated in the children? How much of the traditional values should they be exposed to? Who should they learn from? She also had an extended family of in-laws. Till yesterday they were active members; today they are passive figureheads living like guests in her family or like neighbours in their separate establishment. These and many more questions plagued her.
Today, she is increasingly facing the reality that her new family needs new a set of laws and by-laws that unfortunately are guided by the laws of the patriarch. Most of the time she is trying to solve today’s problems with the laws of yesterday because her formative years were tuned by yesterday’s values. While implementing new laws she finds it difficult to accept such laws not only by others but also by her.
Her problem has been compounded by the fact that while other members have slipped into their new roles by offloading some of their earlier responsibilities yet conveniently retaining the privileges they used to enjoy, she continues to overload herself with new responsibilities because she herself has chosen to lead. There is a shift in her status in the family -- from the position of being ruled to that of a ruler. Her expression has changed from the voice of protest to the tone of command. She has the critical job to manage those who till yesterday managed her in the family. This is a complex game being played at different layers. Things are not always what they seem. What she projects is not necessarily what she really is. In many ways her actions and intentions are at cross-purposes with each other. On the surface she is a busy housewife, a friendly mother, a charming woman casting her spell on her inexperienced husband. In reality she is a hardcore diplomat, measuring her steps and carefully calculating her moves, trying to run the system on her own terms without disturbing and upsetting the traditional norms of the patriarchal society.
(This is an abstract of the findings of a report of PULSE, the proprietarial tool kit of McCann Erickson India, Consumer Insight Division. While talking about the recent Pulse update on Indian homemakers Santosh Desai, President, McCann Erickson India, said: ”This constituency has seen a lot of change in the last few years. Interestingly the most visible sign of change that we see around us in Metro India are perhaps not the most significant. The truly interesting transformation is taking place in the heart of traditional India, where mindsets are changing but reflect in subtle and nuanced ways. We have tried to come to grips with this deeper change that is taking place and as always have studied this constituency from many different perspectives. The study seeks to synthesize understanding culled from direct consumer interaction, decoding of popular culture, media ethnology and expert interactions.”)