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  • Indian mummy’s boys

    by Sunny
    23rd April, 2006 at 12:19 am    

    I was on BBC Asian Network on Friday morning along with Bindiya Solanki (ex-Eastenders) and Nina Wadia (Goodness Gracious Me) commenting on a variety of things when this topic of marrying someone from the sub-continent came up.

    It’s an old topic but bear with me. My position is that marriage is ideally with someone you can relate to culturally, hence it’s much better to find a British partner than, out of desperation, finding someone from there. Both my co-panelists made a point I hadn’t really thought about too much - that it’s always the guys more willing to find a wife from the sub-continent than the women. The latter usually prefer that as the last resort.

    This would support my thesis that anyone who wants to marry a wife from home essentially wants a slave who can cook and clean for them and not complain about it. Why might this be the case? In yesterday’s Financial Times Gautam Malkani, author of Londonstani, explains his theory:

    Indian boys are renowned for being mummy’s boys; Indian dads are renowned for being emotionally detached patriarchal figures; while Indian mums are renowned for being domineering, emotionally involved patriarchal figures. Although prescriptive hypotheses like this have a tendency to prove self-fulfilling, the usefulness of this theory seemed to be confirmed during interview after interview.

    If Asian ‘rudeboys’ were thereby overshooting their masculinity and looking for cultural props with which to do so, no wonder they’d also reached out to gangsta rap music, successfully blending the elements of machismo, misogyny and homophobia in their parent’s culture with that inherent in hip-hop.

    That would also explain the need for a woman from back home - they need someone to replace their mother.

    What is interesting about Malkani’s piece, which is the basis of his book, is that when he went out to study Hounslow boys for his project (he was raised there too), he was asked to interpret his study in gender terms rather than racial terms. A stroke of brilliance.

    Read the article in full [hat tip: al], there is a lot to chew on. There is something else mentioned that I want to highlight for another discussion later.

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    Filed in: Culture,South Asia

    28 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Steve M — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:46 am  

      If Asian ‘rudeboys’ were thereby overshooting their masculinity and looking for cultural props with which to do so, no wonder they’d also reached out to gangsta rap music

      As a Jew, I couldn’t possibly comment about gangsta rap music. My mother would never let me listen to it.

      PS: As for your shameless name-dropping … When you’re on Parky with Nitin Sawhney and Nasser Hussein, then I’ll be impressed.

    2. Sunny — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:57 am  

      Parky is so 2005 dahling. I was on a panel with Nasser Hussain’s dad though :p

      And btw, I only gave the names because I planned to link to the debate (so people could tell), but promptly forgot the link.

      ANYWAY! this is the link:

      You have to forward by two hours and 5 mins, and this is only valid until Thursday 27th.

    3. Sunny — on 23rd April, 2006 at 2:05 am  

      And for the record I am NOT a mummy’s boy (I can cook my own food), though I do love hip-hop. I find that easy stereotyping of gangsta rap a bit irritating (Nirpal Dhaliwal recently did the same thing) but that is for another day.

    4. squared — on 23rd April, 2006 at 4:11 am  

      The most rudeboy person I know is my cousin.

      His grandmother STILL feeds him. He’s 21. If his toast isn’t buttered right, he gets a new piece.

      All rudeboys are overly mothered.



    5. Zak mir — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:14 pm  

      “Indian boys are renowned for being mummy’s boys”

      Hey, even the English are looking for brides abroad! (thai/russia etc)

      Says it all about the integrity of British women. Bit of fun - yup, marriage material - Noop!

    6. Jason — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:27 pm  

      I read Gautam Malkani’s article in the Financial Times.


      Teenage boys are frequently sexist, and macho, and swear a lot!

      They also call people they dislike gay!

      Asian boys!

      Can you believe it?

      What’s the matter with them?

      Ummm….maybe it’s just called BEING A TEENAGER, Gautam

    7. Roger — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:41 pm  

      “I find that easy stereotyping of gangsta rap a bit irritating ”
      Except gangsta rap is a stereotype to begin with.

    8. Jason — on 23rd April, 2006 at 12:43 pm  

      Gangster Rap is idiotic - it gives a negative image of black men.

    9. Chris Stiles — on 23rd April, 2006 at 2:10 pm  

      It’s a complex subject, but here are two more perspectives:

      There is a perception that males brought up here are slightly more tolerant of their partners cultural and familial ties than women would be. This perception is truer than some might want to admit, but less so than others might ‘fear’. For an example of what I mean try to imagine “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with the genders reversed.

      Allied to that, superficially at least, it’s easier to introduce your doctor boyfriend to your doctor father and his circle, than to introduce your doctor girlfriend to your housewife mother and her circle.


    10. NorahJones — on 23rd April, 2006 at 4:21 pm  

      Take it from someone who’s had her fill of mummy’s boys (it is never immediately apparent, it kinda comes hand in hand with when they stop seeing you as a sex kitten and start seeing you as, well, mummy number two) there is not a helluva lot of difference between the boys ‘back home’ and our own homegrown lot.

      It doesn’t matter that they declare their love for you as they catch you falling out of a cab at 3.00 in the morning wearing a booby top. When it comes to marriage, all asian boys want is a good little asian girl that’ll make tea and laddoos for the mum in law. And if mum doesn’t feel you quite fit the picture of nursemaid, then mummy’s boy soon follows suit.

      I would never dream of marrying a ‘freshie’. What could I possibly have in common with him?

      But for our male counterparts, female ‘freshies’ come with cooking skills.

    11. NorahJones — on 23rd April, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

      I think that’s all that matters…

      (I can’t cook, I melt utensils)

    12. Don — on 23rd April, 2006 at 4:52 pm  


      The Thai/Russian bride thing has less to do with the ‘integrity of British women’ (whatever the hell that means) and more with sad tossers who have reached middle age without finding anyone desperate enough to want them.

      Oh, yeah, and they buy into the whole ‘subservient sex-kitten’ schtick.

    13. NorahJones — on 23rd April, 2006 at 5:02 pm  

      ’subservient sex-kitten’ …?


      Bona-fide sex kittens have whips and chains…

    14. Don — on 23rd April, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

      ‘Bona-fide sex kittens have whips and chains…’

      Only when you want them to. Otherwise it gets really scary.

    15. NorahJones — on 23rd April, 2006 at 6:02 pm  

      You see Don? You see why they all leave me for mummy and daddy’s choice?

    16. raz — on 23rd April, 2006 at 7:39 pm  

      A dominant woman? Norah, marry me now!

    17. Bikhair — on 23rd April, 2006 at 10:22 pm  


      Why would any woman complain about having to cook and clean? British women dont cook and clean anymore?

    18. NorahJones — on 23rd April, 2006 at 10:46 pm  


      I love my slightly charred culinary delights. I love the fact that everything around me is germ free. My issue is being told to do something. Or being expected to. In protest, I am quite happy to wallow in dog poo.


      I will bear that in mind!

    19. Sajn — on 23rd April, 2006 at 11:16 pm  

      So you don’t think that marrying someone from “back home” might have something to do with the need to saty connected to the Motherland?

    20. Sunny — on 24th April, 2006 at 12:12 am  

      I don’t think that stands up. Firstly it assumes girls here know nothing about south Asian culture (when in fact anecdotal evidence suggests its the other way around). Secondly, as most British Asians will attest to when going back, they can’t stand living there for more than a few weeks because they want their mod-cons. So I don’t really buy that argument.

    21. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 1:38 am  

      Did anyone see ‘Sharpe’ on telly tonight? Salman Rushdie’s missiz is so fit. I reckon ‘dat Salman gets plenty of ‘magical realism’ at bedtime, hey, hey! Okay: bad pun.

    22. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 1:51 am  

      But Sharpe was great… I’ve started reading Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’ again as a result. Just so I can piss of my friends, and say stuff like ‘Yeah - no - but, of course,… imperialism wasn’t all bad.’’

      More to the point: I agree with the gist of this post - though that’s not based on any anthropological research either.

    23. Amir — on 24th April, 2006 at 1:53 am  

      Norah - ‘boobytop’…??

    24. Jai — on 24th April, 2006 at 9:47 am  

      A lot of Asian parents want their sons to marry a woman from “back home” because she is percieved to a) have a higher level of morality, especially in terms of “family values” and general sexuality, and b) be easier to “control”.

      In reality, of course, neither of these are necessarily the case. Also, some younger-generation Asian guys want such a wife themselves for various reasons (the prevalence of this mindset varies according to the family and which “community” they belong to), but more often than not, it’s usually more to do with the parents’ wishes

      Another reason is the fact that many Asian mothers essentially want a surrogate daughter, and having a daughter-in-law from the subcontinent means that they have someone in the family they can identify with to a greater extent than UK-born Asian women (including possibly their own daughters).

      =>”at least, it’s easier to introduce your doctor boyfriend to your doctor father and his circle, than to introduce your doctor girlfriend to your housewife mother and her circle.”

      Absolutely spot-on (although, again, it varies according to the particular family).

    25. Bikhair — on 24th April, 2006 at 7:49 pm  

      Norah Jones,

      Thats fair that you shouldnt be expected to do anything but dont expect your husband, after you get pregnant to go to work and pay bills. You know he has choices too.

    26. NorahJones — on 24th April, 2006 at 10:11 pm  

      Now young lady, why would I do such a thing?

      If I ever get round to having flumps, I’d expect him to wipe up the baby sick whilst I brought home the bacon (ooh.. sorry.. erm, horse meat? That’s halal right?)

    27. so many wannabes — on 24th April, 2006 at 11:49 pm  

      what’s with the snottiness towards “freshies”?
      can’t find a half-decent expression, you sorry wannabe?

    28. NorahJones — on 24th April, 2006 at 11:56 pm  

      Snottiness? Sorry you’re feeling snottiness through a screen dude.

      Let’s just say I’ve had a very typical life full of cousins that wanted passports and babies and exes that faced much the same.

      I speak only from experience.

      From now on I will refer to freshies as Pakistani/Indian/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan etc etc.

      Apologies for the order in which I put those too. In fact, I’m sorry if I ever offend anyone ever again. EVER.

      And wannabe…? Wannabe what exactly?

      Can’t find a half decent expression, ‘so many wannabes’?

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