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It’s time that we realize that being a possessive husband is a sure-shot way to sabotage your marriage.
Recent Amazon Prime series, The Family Man, gave us a glimpse of how an insecure, possessive husband can be the prime source of conflict in any marriage.
Here is a secret agent who may be a specialist at nabbing terrorists but has a very problematic belief system; someone who believes that his wife should solicit his approval before changing her job, tracks her WhatsApp conversations and her location using his work resources (which he was given to catch terrorists), because she is being friendly with a colleague at work.
A significant number of Indian men seem to believe in meddling in their partners’ lives and making decisions for them. The sad part is that being possessive (or sometimes downright abusive) towards your partner is still seen as a true expression of love and many people (including women) think of it as cute and romantic – when it’s simply not true.
I vaguely remember watching Hum Tumhaare Hain Sanam as a kid and seeing it again a few days back made me cringe with horror at how Bollywood treats women. It’s difficult to understand whether our film industry produces such offensive movies just to earn more money or whether they do it to celebrate their sexism.
In this movie, the male lead is a jealous and insecure husband who guilt-trips his wife into leaving their home on the unfounded suspicion that she was having an affair with her best friend (which she wasn’t) and almost drives her to suicide. His grouse was that she didn’t give him the ‘Pati Parmeshwar’ treatment and that she was close to her male friend – something that he was not able to digest. The movie fails to address the inherent misogyny among most (if not all) of its male characters and lets off the husband very lightly while justifying his abhorrent behavior as a sign of the deep love that he possessed for his wife.
Sadly, our movies try to defend the clingy and dominating behavior of Indian husbands/boyfriends by portraying it as a sign of how much they care for their partners. What we fail to understand is that such behavior has ruined so many relationships.
Faced with a situation where women are pressured to agree with the men around them continually, they either yield to the patriarchal influence (like Preeti in Kabir Singh) or rebel against their authority (like Rani in Queen).
If she gives in to her husband’s wishes, she may get his affection but she will lose her freedom. Haven’t we all come across stories of wives having to compromise incessantly to satisfy the massive egos that their partners have? The sad part is that some of those women convince themselves that possessive husbands are what they need. If that is not Stockholm syndrome then I don’t know what is.
On the other hand, if the woman decides to not tolerate such behavior and leaves him, then we will end up blaming her because ‘Men will be men’ and we can’t be faulted for being obsessive lovers. We will tell ourselves that she was a heartless b***h for not realizing our passion (read obsession), for leaving us just because of a few minor transgressions (read bullying, badgering, manipulation, etc.).
We rarely ask ourselves what we would have done if the tables were turned. Because doing so will bare the reality about what we did and most of us will use any justification to plead innocent.
The big fat Indian entertainment industry is equally guilty
We have perfected the art of making movies which look like a portrayal of the most innocent of love stories – though they hide our inherent love for sexism. Films like Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge, Ishq Vishk, Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein and many others might look like harmless, innocent and equally delightful tales of love but scratch beneath the surface and you will get an idea of how subtle their gender bias is.
And then you have movies like Darr, Anjaam, Dastak, Daraar, Tere Naam or Raanjhna where the obsession of the male lead to control his love interest can lead to dire consequences. Acid attacks, rape, molestation, suicide are just some of the things that can happen when obsession for someone takes a dark turn.
As kids, many of us have been conditioned to look at a woman as being dependent on a man throughout her life whether it is her father, husband or son. Women also have to carry the ‘Ghar ki izzat’ which is only possible if they follow a myriad of rules set by men.
The average Indian male still believes that women will not be able to defend themselves and that they need our protection. This practice continued for so many generations that the concept of gender roles has been internalized even though they are inherently flawed.
To reverse the mindset that possessiveness for anyone beyond a limit is not healthy would be to change the thought processes which can never be easy. That is why many people who rebelled against patriarchy were ostracized by their family, friends and everyone else. You face an incredible amount of isolation and prejudice from your own and it can be heartbreaking.
It’s up to us now to either fight this discrimination faced by our fellow humans and evolve into a more equitable society or sit back, do nothing and let the fire of patriarchy obliterate you.
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Writing is my therapy. It helps me make sense of this world.
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