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Making your own choices does not guarantee happiness, but women still deserve the right to do so.
The Indian Homemaker is one of the blogs I follow closely, and while I find all her posts interesting, the reader interaction is especially interesting on posts where women write in to share their stories and ask for suggestions/perspectives. One such letter was from someone whose friend has been locked up by her parents for falling in love with a guy who was not Indian, and the letter-writer, while agreeing that this was extreme and wrong, still felt that they had justification since they were only trying to prevent her from making the wrong decision, in order to secure her happiness.
One of the things that struck me about us human beings was the assumptions we make, that certain things will guarantee happiness. In the Indian context, there is a broad assumption that marrying a girl/guy, identified by your parents, from the same caste-region-linguistic group guarantees a certain amount of happiness. Or stability. (Which is in any case seen as the same thing.)
Of course, reality has a way of being somewhat unpleasantly different. The ‘good family’ that everyone talked up before marriage turns out to constantly want more dowry. Or, husband and wife find out immediately that they don’t like each other at all and want completely different things in life. Or, they live together for 10 years but fall out after that. Or, everyone is fine, but life just decides to play tough and someone dies in a car accident.
The truth is, that we can’t really “arrange” happiness through a certain set of actions, forget someone else doing it for us, as in the case of parents guaranteeing their children’s happiness through “suitable marriages”.
Which is why, I also find it difficult to accept empowerment arguments couched in terms of happiness. There is no doubt that a woman who gets to make her own decisions, will find a satisfaction that is not available to a woman on whom things are foisted. But, empowerment by itself cannot lead to happiness. You may find your own man and go ahead with him even if your parents object – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the marriage will last. I find the whole arranged marriage vs. love marriage debate strange when it is framed only in terms of outcomes. While we can do our best to make decisions that are likely to lead to happiness, nothing can guarantee it.
So, don’t marry a guy you’ve just met and know nothing about. Yet, marrying a guy that you’ve known well for 4 years is still not a lifetime guarantee. The reality is that some marriages last, and some break-up, and between the two ends, there are also varying degrees of happiness and unhappiness.
I guess what I am trying to say is that the rationale for women’s empowerment is not that it turns out better decisions in all cases. Empowerment is also the freedom to make your own mistakes – and learn from them. The rationale for women’s empowerment is not based on outcomes, but on principles – the moral principle that all adults deserve the right to make their own choices.
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Founder & Chief Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations to create change. She has been writing since she was ten. In another life, she used to be read more...
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What I loved was how there is so much in the movie of the SRK we have known, and also a totally new star. The gestures, the smile, the wit and the charisma are all too familiar, but you also witness a rawness, an edginess.
When a movie that got the entire nation in a twist – for the right and wrong reasons – hits the theatres, there is bound to be noise. From ‘I am going to watch it – first day first show’ to ‘Boycott the movie and make it a flop’, social media has been a furore of posts.
Let me get one thing straight here – I did not watch Pathaan to make a statement or to simply rebel as people would put it. I went to watch it for the sheer pleasure of witnessing my favourite superstar in all his glory being what he is best at being – his magnificent self. Because when it comes to screen presence, he burns it, melts it and then resurrects it as well like no other. Because when it comes to style and passion, he owns it like a boss. Because SRK is, in a way, my last connecting point to the girl that I once was. Though I have evolved into so many more things over the years, I don’t think I am ready to let go of that girl fully yet.
There is no elephant in the room really here because it’s a fact that Bollywood has a lot of cleaning up to do. Calling out on all the problematic aspects of the industry is important and in doing that, maintaining objectivity is also equally imperative. I went for Pathaan for entertainment and got more than I had hoped for. It is a clever, slick, witty, brilliantly packaged action movie that delivers what it promises to. Logic definitely goes flying out of the window at times and some scenes will make you go ‘kuch bhi’ , but the screenplay clearly reminds you that you knew all along what you were in for. The action sequences are lavish and someone like me who is not exactly a fan of this genre was also mind blown.
When Jaya Bachchan speaks her mind in public she is often accused of being brusque and even abrasive. Can we think of her prodigious talent and all the bitter pills she has had to swallow over the years?
A couple of days ago, a short clip of a 1998 interview of Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan resurfaced on social media. In this episode of the Simi Grewal chat show, at about the 23-minute mark, Jaya lists her husband’s priorities: one, parents, two kids, then wife. Then she corrects herself: his profession – and perhaps someone else – ranks above her as a wife.
Amitabh looks visibly uncomfortable at this unstated but unambiguous reference to his rather well-publicised affair with co-star Rekha back in the day.
Watching the classic film Abhimaan some years ago, one scene really stayed with me. It was something Brajeshwarlal (David’s character) says in troubled tones during the song tere mere milan ki yeh raina. He says something to the effect that Uma (Jaya Bhaduri’s character) is more talented than Subir (Amitabh Bachchan’s character) and that this was a problem since society teaches us that men are superior to women.
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