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Before choosing a wife for their sons, families still follow these 5 patriarchal norms that suppress women. It’s time we stopped these!
As kids, we all grew up with this notion of a fairy tale romance that ends with a grand wedding and a happily ever after. But, in reality, how many of us really have that happily ever after? I am sure there are some who believe they have their happy ending, but at what cost do you have it?
Compromise is the hidden requirement of all relationships, especially marriage. But how much compromise is enough and when do you say this is too much? Women are often made to read the ‘how-tos’ of maintaining a balance in their married lives because, in the end, it is the women who are expected to make most of the compromises.
The expectations from women, especially in the modern South Asian communities are often, unbelievable. My God! Usually, there are only five of these requirements, disguised as expectations but their intensity is that of millions.
First and foremost, the guy’s family wants a beautiful girl for their precious son. And by beautiful, I mean fair. The fair the girl is, the better it is. Requirement two is the family background, they basically want someone who can sponsor their son in all of his future progressions. The girl’s family’s money is usually meant to support their son-in-law’s career.
I am sure you have all heard the phrase, ‘We don’t want anything from the family. After all, our son is now all yours!’ This is just a very manipulative way of saying ‘From now on, you finance our son’s car, house, vacation and everything that comes after we get your daughter married to him.’
Then there’s the requirement of marrying a ‘good girl.’ This doesn’t just mean the girl’s so-called ‘purity’ but they expect her to never have laid eyes on any men. She ‘ideally,’ shouldn’t have any male friends, no former crushes or anything! If she has a friend who is a male, she is usually regarded as physically or spiritually ‘impure’ for having thought of a man who isn’t her husband!
Requirement four is education. Regardless of how educated or uneducated the man is, he will seek a woman who is very well-educated. He will expect her to happily give up her dreams and ambitions to cook for him, wash the dishes and serve his family. Now don’t get me wrong, I respect women who choose to stay at home. (‘Choose’ being the keyword here.) But how dare she make a choice to work! A woman with a PhD who can make hot and perfectly round paranthas thrice a day is a requirement, isn’t it?
At the same time, there are two scenarios when men seek educated women. Let me explain. If she is educated, she must earn well enough to support her husband’s lifestyle. The man may be earning as much as her but she has to support his lifestyle. This lifestyle basically includes keeping up with his siblings’ demands, his parents’ demands and maintaining a certain ‘social profile.’ However, if this educated woman chooses to be a homemaker, she is showered with rage, taunts and all else in between for making a choice.
But there’s a flip-side to this coin too. If the woman is educated, ambitious and career-oriented, how dare she think she is better than her husband? So what if she has a double PhD and an incredible list of experiences? If she doesn’t attend to the needs of her husband, in-laws and other family members, she is ‘flawed,’ by default.
Her education, which was one of the most important factors for marriage, is now her biggest nightmare. She will be blamed and called irresponsible, selfish for being career-oriented, which is the biggest sin for a woman. But that’s not all. She will be accused of neglecting not just her child but her in-laws and her husband too. Her ‘failure’ at being able to run her house and win her husband’s heart will constantly be pointed out to her.
By now, if all four of these requirements are met, the fifth requirement becomes a part of the million-dollar question. She must stay mute while the man and his family speak the way they want. There’s a favourite desi quote that everyone had heard at least once, ‘Now that you’re married, you should forget your family. We are your new family and it is your duty to serve us and make sure we are happy.’
Just like that, the decision about the bride is made, without her consent or her input. The husband, his family and her family and society make decisions about what the woman should or shouldn’t do. Right from her clothes to whether she should work, she gets no say in anything.
If only women got to decide what they want for themselves, the world would be a better and a more livable place.
No matter what your faith is, the women in mythology and all the sacred texts had the right to choose what they wanted to do in their lives. And yet, in the modern society, women are the ones who are the most deprived of their rights than ever before.
Some women take a strong way out and become incredibly radical towards their approach which leads to them being tagged several names. Then there are some others who smile while struggling every minute of the day and having their decisions made for them. Is this fair?
How do we look at women as deities while demeaning the women we live with daily? I believe that the best time a girl has in her life is at her parents’ house where everything was fair and there was equality between genders. However, the moment she gets married, her life turns into a never-ending roller-coaster ride.
While pleasing her husband, his family and her kids, she forgets her own identity and desires. Is this a fair world that we live? Absolutely not! We are all ‘just’ women who live in a man’s world. All that people pretend under the garb of feminism is simply mockery of it!
Until we teach men to change their behaviour and thoughts towards women, they will be made to kill their ambitions. And as long as we keep looking for these requirements in the women, they will continue to be forced to live in houses that aren’t ours. We will have to take care of kids that aren’t ours, since we follow the desi norm that the kids belong to the man.
Until we make some changes, women will never be able to breathe easily and freely.
Picture credits: Still from Netflix’s series Indian Matchmaking
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