Marriage Strike Call By Indian Men Against Marital Rape Law Outs Them As Potential Rapists…

Criminalizing marital rape won't change what marriages actually are but it'll give the women wanting to assert their choice the agency to do so - exactly what men calling for marriage strike do not want!

Criminalizing marital rape won’t change what marriages actually are but it’ll give the women wanting to assert their choice the agency to do so – exactly what men calling for marriage strike do not want!

I avoided reading most of the posts on this marriage strike nonsense. Those men saying whatever they said is neither surprising nor funny. Them wanting to be able to force themselves on women is not funny at all. It’s also not funny because of the fact that it is exactly what their forefathers had been doing.

Abuse is so normalised that those of us who grew up seeing and experiencing horrendous forms of abuse struggle to assert our agency every day. I remember once when my ex and I were cuddling, I had some flashbacks and it turned my mood off suddenly. I moved away from him. He couldn’t understand and asked what had happened. I said that it was nothing and moved to the other side of the bed. He didn’t get upset, nor did he say anything. But later, I wondered if he felt bad. I kept thinking about it as if I owed him something.

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We have been conditioned to put men in our lives first even when we are struggling with our own trauma. I wouldn’t have felt that weird guilt (that made no sense) if my choice, my agency hadn’t been violated at every step.

Men have been taught not to care.

Women do want sex, pleasurable sex, but when they consent

Last year, this movie, The Great Indian Kitchen, came out. What did Nimisha’s character want from her husband during sex? She wanted some foreplay because she did not feel pleasure during the act. It was just a mechanical, routine act for her. Did you see ‘consent’ there?

Well that’s complicated, right? She wants to have sex but she doesn’t feel like she’s a part of the act. I see neither consent nor choice. She’s helplessly lying in bed till the man finishes the act. Where is her choice? This isn’t what she has consented to. She wants to have pleasurable sex, which she’s being denied.

Consent and choice mean nothing if your partner doesn’t understand them. Literally nothing is going to change if men don’t respect our feelings, our right to have pleasurable sex, our right to withdraw, our right to say NO.

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Patriarchy will ensure men calling for marriage strike get partners…

If you think that these men are outing themselves as potential rapists and that no one’s going to marry them, are you delusional or what? The climax of the same movie shows that these men will keep getting the women they can oppress because the structure that is the cause of that oppression stays intact. So what if a woman threw dirty water on the faces of those brahmins, those patriarchs and left their house? There are thousands in line, waiting to uphold that same structure and play a significant role in the collective oppression of women.

That movie shows exactly what marriages are in this country- casteist, classist, heteronormative, patriarchal alliances. All of these words symbolise violence. Patriarchy raises violent men. It expects men to use violence against their women. How else will they control them? Marriage itself is a violent institution. Two individuals may have a happy marriage if they’re both striving for it, but it doesn’t change the structure.

What laws do is they give the individuals resisting these oppressive structures some agency. Laws against casteism haven’t annihilated casteism but the oppressed can go to the court and be heard. Laws help empower the oppressed. A law against marital rape won’t change what marriages actually are but it’ll give the women wanting to assert their choice the agency to do so. We need such a law because women get butchered not just on the kitchen tables, they get butchered everywhere; they get butchered in their own bedrooms on their own beds.

Image source: a still from the film The Great Indian Kitchen

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About the Author

Nishi Sharma

A little vain, and profane. Have a master's in Women's and Gender Studies. read more...

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