Do Men Raised by Single Moms View Women Differently?
While one can’t generalise, one can certainly hope that men who have seen their moms deal with social taboos and trauma will understand how a patriarchal society harms the entire family. It was and still isn’t easy for a single mom to battle the hard wired notion that she can’t cope without a man in her life.
From a credit card application to school admissions, the processes and procedures are not created keeping single moms in mind.
Most moms are single moms…
Way before they are officially separated many women are the sole caregivers with little or no support from their partners. As Ketan Kamat, a 40 year old businessman from Mumbai says, “I was raised singly by my mom ever since I was 7 even though my parents officially split when I was 15.” Ketan saw how his mom suffered after his parents were divorced and that made him question the unfairness of it all. This incident was the driving force in my quest to understand why these things happen, not just why it happened to my mother.
His father joined a cult of some Godman and ignored his family. At 15, Ketan had to support his mom because she was depressed at the time. “She was a very bright and progressive woman who had many accolades before the separation. Suddenly, she lost everything. That was her thinking. I took care of her at the time. My approach towards women was always shaped by how my mom has raised me.”
It is a social issue…
Ketan saw that women take up a lot of responsibility and society has been unfair. “When my father went to a Godman nobody saw any harm in that. No one helped him understand his responsibility towards his family is as important as spiritualism. That is why I was more connected and attached to my mother.
To me it is a social issue and not just a personal issue. It changed my perspective completely. I see women fighting on various fronts because of the inequality that exists all around us. Women have been deprived of their rights. They don’t have equal opportunity”
What happened to Ketan is not an isolated case. We know of famous celebrities who upped and left their families to follow a Guru or Godman. As he says, no one ever questions their move or discourages them from neglecting their duties to their family.
Breaking the cycle of abuse…
Not all separations are amicable. When a child has seen domestic violence at home, the child may feel that is normal. Faraz Malik was not even 5 when his mom had to leave her abusive husband. For a while, he used to be abusive to the girls in his class and hit them, pull their hair or kick them and thought this was how he was supposed to behave. However, his aunt was the one who explained how he was wrong. She was also the one who explained how his father was wrong in treating his mother like that. “Gradually I stopped missing my father because I used to feel he was a bad person because I knew I didn’t like that he hit my mom. At that time, I used to cast my father as the villainous character in all the movies I watched,” he adds while maintaining that it was important at the time for him to do that.
Faraz’s aunt helped raise him along with her mother (Faraz’s grand aunt). His mother had to live separately to work and earn a decent income.
His grand aunt was the one who shaped his personality and taught him how to talk to women and how to treat women. She was a teacher who had raised two girls after she was widowed. Faraz says she told him stories of strong Indian women and also Indian mythology.
As a result of being raised by these strong, independent women, Faraz has spoken against the pay difference against women. During social discussions Faraz has had lengthy conversations about how women are not given a chance to prove themselves. In his profession he feels that women get the short shrift because at the outset they are told things like not to work late shifts whereas the men work the entire night.
He feels that most people have not really understood the #MeToo movement. When they say they want to be safe, he says “Just be respectful.”
And that is all it takes—equal opportunity and respect. Hopefully, as more and more men speak up, we will start seeing a shift in our attitudes.