Friday, February 22, 2008

Grandma's stellar advice

The Deccan Chronicle runs a weekly column that is not so much agony aunt as agony grandmother. The questions more often than not have to do with marriage trouble and the answers are mostly conservative and pretty much what you'd expect from a grandma stereotype: with emphasis on 'family values' and not rocking the boat.

Today's column, however just tipped that steady boat from inoffensive to obnoxious:

Q: I am a 26-year-old married woman. My marriage was arranged with my husband last April and I have not been in a happy state since then. His family had lied to us about his educational qualifications. While I was told that he is an MBA, my husband is a B.SC graduate. Further, my in-laws had told us that he earns Rs 25,000 but in reality he earns only Rs 10,000 per month. My husband has a tendency to lie and has even attempted to beat me when he gets angry. I am currently five months pregnant. I don’t want to live with him and yet when I think about my unborn child’s future, I’m not certain about divorcing my husband. Please advice.

Young lady,

A: It is unfortunate that your in-laws lied to you about your husband’s qualifications and salary. You are justified in feeling cheated. But having said that let me assure you that qualifications alone do not guarantee success or money in life. It also depends on an individual’s aptitude level and capacity for hard work. While I do understand your feelings of betrayal, it would be prudent on your part to handle the situation wisely now that you are pregnant.

You say your husband has attempted to raise his hand on you, while I definitely don’t condone his behaviour, are you sure you are not provoking him by making constant digs at his degree or salary? Perhaps, your condescending attitude is getting him on the defensive and forcing him to lie to you. Why don’t you try changing your approach by being more tolerant and accepting? If he is a decent guy he will definitely change his stance. Give it your best shot and see if things work out for the two of you. Sometimes, things do get sorted out with time.

(all emphases in the 'answer' mine).

I don't know which part makes me most annoyed. This thing about 'provoking' men to bad behaviour of all kinds is unfortunately too prevalent to be dismissed or laughed off or justified by pointing out to her face-saving 'I do not condone' line. When members of the judiciary and other persons who ought to know better say the same thing, this is par for the course. It is still outrageous.

And we're talking about someone who lied about qualifications, salary and who beats/threatens to beat his wife. There's still room for doubt about whether the guy's 'decent'?

What the fuck?

Oh, you know what the most ironic thing is? The header for this piece is called: Tips For A Happy Marriage.


Szerelem said...

Wow. What the fuck, indeed.
The only impulse I have when I read crap like this is to punch the person who is spewing said crap.

Also, maybe we should just set Falstaff on them.

Falstaff said...

Ahem. See, now the old me would have got all furious about this and written a long piece about how this was crap. The new me, however, will simply dismiss the whole thing as being beneath contempt.

Aside from everything else, what's the deal with the "qualifications alone do not guarantee success or money in life". She just said the guy makes a pittance, didn't she?

dipali said...

Yeeee ech. Totally ghastly.
Now The Telegraph on Sunday has Suhel Seth as Agony Uncle, and he is the most refreshing, bullshit cutting out guy ever. Most of the sob-story wallahs are told to stop being such losers, or that they are so pathetic that everyone is better off without them. Probably not helpful at all, but at least fun to read.

Anonymous said...

Down with DH! My God, traditional or not, there's a bloody limit to how regressive a daily with a circulation as high as this one should be allowed to get! WTF indeed!

Anonymous said...

Oops! My Apologies to the DH, just re-read the post and it says The Deccan Chronicle.. Sorry SB.

Banno said...

Yikes. Yes, the onus of a happy marriage is always on the woman, and it's incredible how many women buy into that crap. Be calm, be patient, be devout, be sacrificing, and the man will come back to you. Some day.

??! said...

Forget all the hand-wringing. Let's just hire a set of goons ourselves, and get them to go thump whoever writes such shite, and the people who commission and publish it.

And Falsie can stand in the background, giving a running lecture on why exactly they deserve it.....all set to the tune of appropriate classical music, of course.

Call it Blog-Bashing, if you will.

Space Bar said...

Szerelem: Set Falstaff on a whole newspaper?! Or just give him grandma's email?

Fasltaff: You're still not weeping. I want to see tears, bitter tears.

This beneath contempt thing, though - I wonder what the people who write in do when they see the advice they've been given. Do they sue the paper? Just groan and want to end it all? Or do they follow every bit of it as oracular wisdom?

Dipali: You're not seriously saying Suhel Seth makes sense, are you? The guy's a gas bag.

Anon: Never mind! :D You're probably right about circulation, though - DC's circulation's been on the up.

Banno: I know. MArriages have a large enough bureden of expectation without having rot like this printed in papers.

??!: Good to see you're still around. There's post in there somewhere, no? Go to it I say.

??! said...

Oh I'm around, just not around, if you know what I mean.

Space Bar said...

??!: yes. :D BIt's all good. S'long as you're okay and all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, like Szerelem, I do feel like punching someone too.
But more importantly, I wish the woman who asked this question also realizes the patent outrageousness of the answer. But why does the DC think it can get away with such an answer. Does it think most of its readers are likely to think similarly ? :(

Falstaff said...

SB: True. Personally, I've always wondered what would prompt someone to write a letter to an agony aunt column in the first place, always assuming these letters are from real people and not simply made up. I mean, do you know of anyone who's ever got good advice from a newspaper columnist?

The gold standard on WTF public advice for me remains this radio show I heard a few years back in India, where someone called in saying he thought he was gay and the woman doing the 'counseling' basically told him to go study heterosexual porn until he got over his unnatural tendencies.

km said...

So he lies a little and beats his pregnant wife.

Come on, no one's perfect!

[sarcasm tags, sarcasm tags, sarcasm tags....I am scared of some of the violent bloggers here...]

Rahul said...

They're catering to their readership, that's all. If grandma says walk out on the asshole, most of DC's readership will walk out on the paper. After all, half of them probably think nothing about lying about their son's credentials. With the gender ratio getting more skewed, getting a bride is hard.

Yes, I'm cynical. I stockpile such stories to exhibit before people who say "be proud to be a (Hindu/Tamil/Indian/whatever)". Of course, it has zero effect.

Space Bar said...

lekhni: see rahul's comment below. DC, like every other newspaper, panders to it's readership. so yes - i guess this is what people want to hear. i still wonder about the woman who wrote i, though.

falstaff: do you know of anyone who's ever got good advice from a newspaper columnist?

Actually, i do. but that was about some property stuff or tax or some such; the people answering the questions knew what they were talking about.

not like radio talk show hosts. i really can't understand why anyone would listen to fm. the rjs would give one road rage if the traffic didn't.

km: :D

you've just given me an idea, though. what if, instead of tags, one sic'd bloggers on to others? lekhni and szerelem on to you; falsie on to any one of a dozen i can think that. and in defence one can always say one was provoked.

rahul: agree. i'd like to see one such agony columnist say, get out of your lousy marriage, it's better for you and who cares about the creeps anyway.

Madhat said...

holy cow! I guess a letter to the editor is in order...

??! said...

The question is, who'd we sic you onto? Hmmm...

Space Bar said...

madhat: they'd probably laugh themselves silly if someone does. you should read the rest of the paper some time.

??!: :D think think. me, i think i'm pretty pacific, don't you?

Aishwarya said...


Falstaff said...

You know, I'm beginning to feel distinctly like a Rottweiler reading these comments. I shall now go find a mailman to chew on while you decide who you want to set me on.