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Why should the role of a married woman be decided by the husband and in laws. Why should a woman lose all autonomy and choice once she gets married?
Marriages are suppose to create happy relationships. The strength and inspiration would be the reason that could have pushed our ancestors to bond two people together with an institution called ‘Marriage’.
But is this the reality too? Does marriage strengthen a person or does it actually weaken and take away everything which gives their identity to a person (especially women in India)? It’s almost as if it is a taboo being a married women in India. Why? You don’t believe me? Let us look at the problem.
Married women shackled within boundaries are a truth in our patriarchal society. They are expected to behave in a certain manner and play some roles universally within the boundaries of a home set by her own family members. No matter how successful a doctor, engineer, scientist or a loved teacher the woman is, her credentials are evaluated by her being a good wife, good mother and most importantly good daughter in law. Though it’s completely a different debate – what is the definition and limitation of being ‘Good.’
The unwritten code of conduct for married women that exists in our society troubles me deeply. In fact I am planning to go through all those caricatures on stone age caves which have provided us huge insight about our early civilisations so I think they might also explain the role of a married woman today. I mean if role of a married woman as defined today was not part of societies earlier then who set the rules?
Who actually said that nurturing kids and looking after the old is usually a married woman’s job? Who said that managing home and cooking food is a woman’s forte? Who said that she needs to be perfect in managing a family else she won’t be loved? And if these were never the rules then how did this myth spread as plague gradually?
It starts by losing her surname first. Yes, a name she was born with and changing the name suddenly signifies that she is someone else’s property now. Yes property! Otherwise what could be the reason of changing names just like we do by putting boards like ‘Mehta & Sons’ on piece of barren lands?
Then she is suddenly expected to be cordial, well mannered and happy all the time. How is that even possible? Then married women are expected to treat every family member, relatives or even a dog from her husband’s side with respect. While I understand giving people respect, maybe this respect should also be earned after a while?
And why can’t she choose whom she wants to hang out with? And how is it that the mighty mother in law thinks that her ‘Bahu Rani‘ is second to her son and so she has the right to interfere into her life every possible manner? I mean statements like ‘We are very progressive ji, we allow our daughter in law to wear jeans’ peel off the layers of hypocrisy that exist there. I mean who the hell is anyone to ‘allow’ anything at the first place. We are a democratic country with freedom to live our life our way. Remember?
Now even if we suppose that married women take all these hurdles in their daily life in their stride and smother those feeling of hitting back somehow, then there exist the ultimate walls of ‘Husbands!’
Yes, the man in the life of a married woman who was supposed to be a companion turns into a ‘nasty boss’ who would show his displeasure if the food is not cooked right or roti is little burnt.
The dreadful husbands who would not talk to you if you don’t behave ‘right’ to their mums and lack the basic sense of not crossing their boundaries of not interfering into your relationship with another person, even if that is their mum!
The perfect daddies who would openly criticize their wives before their kids if someday somehow the poor woman did not feel like getting up early in the morning to keep the house running and feed the toddler.
“She has no rights to do that – after all she is a married woman and she has to be perfect in what she does else how will we manage? After all don’t I slog in the office? Then what if she goes out of my grip?” I guess this is what that covers the loving heart of the lover that ever existed in that man.
How dreadful can daily life be for a married woman? Do you realise it? The pressure of performing at the personal level is far more stressful than performing at the office! The best part is that the people for whom she is burdening herself with the roles take her for granted and forget that whatever she is doing is ‘not doing out of obligation but choice.‘
Yes, everything that a married woman does is supposed to be her choice. Like the choices of
Not to forget that there exists a whole set of other choices that she is always denied! And the reason behind accepting the roles is simply brutal emotional blackmail, fear of marital discord, obligation of keeping her father’s head high (which somehow bows down if the married women refuse to play the roles) or the kids. There could be many other reasons.
And even if these are the possibilities if she goes ‘out of line’ to lead her own life on her own terms then too, why is this the responsibility of a woman only? We have reached moons and you are saying we can’t find a middle way where women also enjoy the same rights as a man at home?
And if you still don’t believe me then think about it – why isn’t there any celebration of married women who are travelers, fashionistas, adventurers etc.?
Why does the family open its heart only to those married women who are good cooks, fair skinned, polite daughters in law with the powers to listen to everything smilingly?
Why are women with brains and logical minds not cherished?
Why women in India are expected to be docile and not angry goddess like Kali?
Doesn’t it all comes down to the survival instincts of human race to be selfish and dominate the weak?
Women are no commodity! Marriages should be no hell! To live in a society where gender neutrality is a way of life should be the basic right of a woman!
Published here earlier.
Image source: By Bodhisattva Dasgupta (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.
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