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Society's toxic norms have resulted in several unwanted pregnancies. We get pregnant only for the society, not for the child or for want of a family.
Society’s toxic norms have resulted in several unwanted pregnancies. We get pregnant only for the society, not for the child or for want of a family.
Few days ago there was an ugly tweet that shook and scared me. A man tweeted about the sexual life of Arab women. As ugly as it is, for the obvious reasons, we cannot ignore the same about Indian women.
The Indian women are in a very vulnerable condition. A number of our children are born of marital rapes. Even in the lockdown, when women are subjected to rapes and abuses, the social media is making fun of unwanted pregnancies.
These vile people enjoy the jokes of pregnancy. Laugh so loud at the sales of condoms because how do you expect men at home for long. While the precautions for men are largely available, the availability of contraceptives for women is extremely poor.
Pregnancy has become a tool for the patriarchy to subjugate the women. What is to happen so naturally and out of love has taken a turn to a more civilised way of childbirth. But the part of love making is mostly skipped and the couples end up in pregnancy out of social pressure.
If the woman does not get pregnant in the first few months of her marriage she is almost forced into having sex by the husband. Or the man is labelled as not ‘manly’ enough.
This toxic norm by the society has resulted in crores of unwanted pregnancies. We get pregnant only for the society, not for the child or for want of a family.
Pregnancies in the past were usually decided by the man and his mother. Mother-in-law decides when and how many kids were to be born. She has the upper hand in deciding the structure of the family. It may look like a woman is powerful enough to decide something like this, but it is always the misogynistic values that guides her.
So powerful is the patriarchy that it helps weaponise her and target the other woman. Here, there is no question of love making and the opinions of the newly married woman. She was treated as a property of the family and they had every ownership on her. The woman was to be cultivated and bear children for the family because the number of children was directly proportional to the wealth and status of a family.
This culture has become toxic as it venerates the new modern educated liberalised society. It took the form of marital rapes just to prove the masculinity of the men. The selection of sex of the foetus is another problem. This time the pressure is more on the men.
Otherwise they are ostracised and labelled useless. They are continuously forced and compelled to have sex with their wives till she is pregnant. I have seen men who get depressed over the menstrual cycle of their wives.
‘Oh my god my wife is on her periods, what will I tell my mother!’ ‘Shit! How did I miss that? Next time I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen.’ ‘Oh no, how will I face my family now? What will they think of me?’ ‘How will my mother step outside if she learns this?’ These are the questions, they often wonder and ask.
They get depressed and up forcing their wives into sex. Marital rapes have other larger causes too but it happens with pregnancies quite often. The men believe that they are not man enough if the pregnancy is not happening. This causes damage to the bond between the man and woman.
There are other vile men too, who celebrate the marrying of virgin girls. I’m just focussing on the married men in the vicious hold of patriarchal society. They do not want to know about themselves and definitely do not give a damn about the woman he married just for the sake of family. Neither do they try to step out of their comfort zone and stand up for their women. Instead, they are very happy inside their privileged shells.
Where does all this leave a woman? She just lost her home and her new house expects her to fulfil her gender roles. To treat them like masters. Many families, today claim they are feminists and say ‘We do not demand anything from her. She doesn’t need to look after us but she should at least, take care of our son like we did.’
They expect her to fulfil his every wish without giving space to her views. But since the childbirth proves the genders of not only the child but also the parents, they do not wish to think about the woman’s views on planning.
‘How does a woman plan for childbirth?’ ‘Leave it all, it is a man’s work’ ‘
Deciding when what how where, is a man’s role, but the actual part of going through it all is completely a woman’s work. Simply a labor. She goes through every part of the cycle. But still she does not have a say on the process.
Even after the child is born the man and his family decides whether she should ‘get’ tubectomy. Despite the medical claims that a vasectomy is easier and less complicated, men do not do it, because they would rather prove that their manhood is still with them.
The misogynistic culture deprived the women completely of their sexual rights. When how where and all along with the childbirth. These are values of a good family woman in the society’s view.
I’ve heard many women say, ‘I want to marry the man my father chooses, because I do not want to have problems or give my family the problems. All I want is a peaceful life. But how can we actually have sex with someone we barely know? It will take time to get to know him, his family, and other things with the new social responsibility. Only then I can make love and conceive a child. To sleep with someone is not easy, I wonder how our mothers and grandmothers did it!’
Our mothers and grandmothers did it anyway mostly because they had no way out. They did not have access to education. Wherever you go against your family, the ropes of patriarchy led to death. A woman only makes her survival a priority and exercises caution. I think this survival instinct only made them yield.
Though they were subjugated in every possible way, their strengths did not diminish. They survived, and you and I are here with more education and power. It does not mean that we have to sleep with the strangers at the instance of marriage but we have more windows now to reach out.
Pregnancy is a woman’s work. To realise this, is essential for today’s women. It should be a woman’s choice forever. Only parenting needs a man. So the tables of decision making and policy making should be of women. Instead of having single woman as a representative in the policy level, it should be a single male representative sessions.
Picture credits: Still from movie Midnight’s Children
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