• Natalia Abbasi

The Stereotypes Against Daughters-in-Law


“Who’s going to keep you in their house if you can’t even cook?”

“Clean up this mess, a girl is meant to be tidy and keep a house neat.”

“You argue so much. No man will put up with your tantrums and whining.”


Why can’t the men we marry cook meals?

Why can’t the men we marry clean up their own messes?

Why can’t the men we marry handle a healthy debate?


Why must it always be the women who are expected to change themselves to better suit the tastes of men? Where are the standards set for daughters-in-law rooted in our culture?


Most Pakistani women have experienced, or at least heard of, the standards that many mothers-in-law uphold. A woman must be good at cooking, able to keep a house clean, good at raising kids and also please their husbands along with his whole family to be considered adequate in the eyes of the groom’s parents. Not only this, but there are also beauty standards for daughters in law. The girl must be pretty, presentable, fair skinned, without body hair, thin, shorter than her husband, and represent good genes so that the groom's parents may have beautiful grandchildren. In their eyes, dyed hair, piercings, short hair and heavy makeup are unacceptable.


We’ve also heard the statement, “When a desi girl marries a man, she marries his whole family as well.” In the case of many women, this is true. The bride must be liked by everyone in the groom’s family and the way to be liked is through satisfying their needs. The girl winds up working like a servant in attempts to please her beloved’s blood relatives.


The men in our society vary greatly. Some have traditional views that support the basic patriarchy while some are considered to have more ‘modern’ ideals that feminist generally seem to support. Some might even claim to have feminist views but still be based on patriarchal ideals. This can be because being a male feminist is considered ‘attractive’ which is wrong in itself. Being a decent person has become the threshold for a man to be considered a great husband whereas the threshold for being a good wife is continuously raised. We praise the men of our society for doing the bare minimum since the majority of men seem rather ‘lame’ in a sense. Women often don’t stop for a moment and try to figure out whether these men are worth their love and affection and instead judge themselves as to whether or not they are enough and worthy of the simple bare minimum.


It should be taken into consideration how women are taught from a young age by their parents what a good wife is like and how they should fit into that criteria whereas men are never criticized and told “no one will marry you if you do not meet a certain standard”. We may find it unnecessary to do so but I believe desi culture is largely to blame for this. A man should be raised to be a good husband just as a woman is raised to be a good wife. In my opinion, if this was taught well enough then many women would be saved from abusive marriages and toxic relationships that ruin their mental health entirely.


With the standards we require from these girls that turn into women, we absolutely shatter their self confidence and the beauty of their nature. Women should not be constantly worried about fitting into desi standards and being the perfect wife, especially if they are not married to the perfect man.


There is a saying which considers how a man should not demand a princess if he himself is not yet a prince. It is absolutely unfair to expect so much from women when the men of our society do not even reach the basic standard of human decency and care for their wife’s needs with love and affection. A relationship should be respectable on both ends, not simply demanding of one side.


We should stop and ask the community of desi middle aged parents if their sons are worth such royal treatment from females. So let’s do exactly that.


Dear aunties and uncles,

It has been brought to the attention of my fellow females that you believe most of us are unworthy of your sons. We feel that we should discuss the capabilities of your darling son instead. You see, we are not applying for a job that you will be the only one deciding who is worthy and who is not. In fact, we would like to question his own attributes and qualifications.


Your son may be rather messy, he comes home and throws his clothes anywhere in the room. However, you would like it neatly put away by the time he has freshened up? He is also a very picky eater. It is difficult to make any suitable food for him other than your home cooking. If he wishes for his mother to be evident in his wife, we regret to inform you that no such thing will be happening. Also, he is rather needy after returning from his work. He is demanding of his wife’s attention even though he ignores her texts and calls throughout the day. Your son also cannot handle the higher intelligence of a woman. His involvement in thought-provoking conversations is dull and boring. He may have a stable and respectable job that earns a fair income but that does not give him the right to take out his work-life frustration on the woman he married. Do tell us if you raised your son to be a decent person as well. It was reported that in our society, many women are mentally and physically abused in their marriages and we cannot help but blame these cases on incorrect parenting. Before you try to set up your son with a desi female, please make sure he is ethically educated and worthy of a good wife.


We hope that you may understand why we are choosing to reject a future with your son. You may apply again later on when he is mentally mature enough to respect his wife and reciprocate the love she gives him. If he holds the idea that any woman owes him anything, we would prefer if you refrained from applying. You cannot expect a perfect female to be your daughter-in-law when your son is not the perfect husband himself. Until then, we wish you luck in finding a suitable girl for your son.


Best Regards,

Desi Females


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