By Nidhi Kinhal
Married women in my family refer to their husbands with “ri”, a Kannada suffix of respect. This is a common custom in India: women in the north refer to them in relational terms, usually as “father of child’s name”. But these women in Walhe village of Maharashtra are questioning this long-upheld custom, and smashing the patriarchy, desi-style.
As part of the #KhelBadal campaign run by Video Volunteers, a media and human rights NGO, their correspondent Rohini Pawar, met women in Walhe and got them to share their experiences with patriarchal cultural practices. So she asked them to talk about the the practice of women not addressing their husbands by their first name. What we learn from this custom is it “indicates that a woman respects her husband and wants him to live a long life. A woman who doesn’t follow it will be seen as cunning, a woman with no morals. The tradition is so deeply rooted that we hadn’t given it thought until this discussion club,” Rohini says.
The shy giggling women represent an undervalued phenomenon. Subversion in the home, by lower and middle-class women, homemakers, and rural women, often goes unnoticed amidst discussions of feminism among younger urban, middle and upper class, working women. But, like the video shows us, it is important: “Patriarchy hides in calling our husbands formally instead of informally. But when you hear it, you don’t necessarily see that it is an act of patriarchy,” says one of the women in the video.
Watch the video below.