Divorced, Separated? Then Is She Available On Sale @50% Off… Respect Optional?!

Till I was someone’s wife yesterday, I was respected. Now that I am separated, things have changed in unbelievable ways and I'm considered as "asking for it", available, desperate, easy to get...

Trigger Warning: This deals with sexual harassment and may be triggering for survivors.

Today I want to talk about divorced or separated women and the plight of their respect in society. And if to top this equation is the fact that you are outspoken, take solo trips and are a self made working woman, things don’t get any easier in this society.

It’s almost overnight that suddenly you are viewed as an amazing brand available at 50% off. The way the world views you changes overnight.

This happened a while ago. I was invited to our friends’ house. All couples except me. As the evening progressed, of course there was that eye rolling and the corner gossipers.

The ‘available’ woman

Then it’s the married men that feel it’s suddenly just ok to make an off hand, sexually loaded comment on something ordinary. And as a woman who isn’t shy to talk about sex, love, passion, positions…, its like I suddenly am labelled ‘open’, ‘available’, and nothing more than a piece of flesh.

No matter how independent you are, or how much you know that people around you are assholes, sometimes one really thinks – How many times can one really stop, take a stand, fight back, reply back?!

It’s almost like every time you are groped, you turn around and fight, and then it happens so many times that at a certain point you just get tired, and if there’s a sudden brush of a hand on your butt cheek or your breasts, you just let it go. You actually give the person the benefit of doubt, thinking maybe it was an honest mistake or accident.

Just as I was giving the benefit of doubt to my friend’s husband, because I did not want to create a scene, or maybe he was drunk… Either way, it was not my problem and I should have called him out, but we are so conditioned to avoid confrontation.

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As I view it, respect is optional for separated or divorced women especially in Indian Society

People who are close to you, your family even. Something just changes. There is a sudden diminished factor of respect.

Till I was someone’s wife yesterday, I was respected. Now that I am separated, things have changed in unbelievable ways. Apart from my own personal life that’s upside down, and trying to find my own ground to a new reality, life outside the house itself has become even crazier.

Male friends are suddenly making invitations for something more. Other people are making covert sexual references. And then other married men who are trying their level best to say something in between the lines. Some more who are standing there bold as hell, confessing their love to you.

Is it so impossible to see a woman who’s separated, alone and independent, just as a friend, just as a woman? Is it really that hard to respect her as an individual without having to view her as ‘available’?

The truth in between all this is that society needs us in a certain context set by patriarchy to be ‘acceptable’. I shook that mold to walk out because I did not want to confine myself to the rules and to the standards of this society. And now that I am out of that one bubble, it’s becoming harder to just be me – because now the ‘bold’ me gets disrespected unless I behave in a way deemed ‘respectable’, of how to carry and present myself.

Behaviour that was ‘cool’ as a wife is now considered as ‘she’s asking for it’

Now let me point out, this disrespect isn’t a verbal or even a blatant one in most cases. It’s covert, in different forms. If they were saying these things straight to my face, I would fight and give them a run for their money.

And to top this, if I really were to be who I am – an outspoken, laughing, drinking, wanting-to-have-fun kind of person and I do not behave in ways that don’t fit in to their standards of ‘ladylike’, especially as a separated or divorced woman, then I will be “asking for” what comes next.

This same behavior as someone’s wife was accepted as ‘cool’… and we were just the perfect couple; the envy of the party. My husband was definitely the envy of the party by both genders, equally.

The guys who “wished their wife had that spark” and considered my husband ‘lucky’, and the women who wished they “had a cool husband like mine” and who endured me for who I am as is.

This same behavior now is considered in lots of ways as “asking for it”, available, desperate, easy to get, “tell her you love her ’cause of course she has no options”, “show that bold love – she will fall for you”!

The caring one. “I understand you… you are so strong.”

The one I thought was a friend. “Separated; lack of sex… I am here in all respects.”

The battered husband. “I wish my wife was like you; I am in an unhappy marriage.”

The well wisher. “You are different but the world isn’t… I care.”

Is it really that impossible to just respect a single woman? Respect her for her choices without looking at her as a product 50% off on sale – desperate for a 2nd innings?

All ‘flaws’ are overlooked and forgiven as ‘someone’s wife’, but as a single woman the same things are just not acceptable… WHY?

Am I gonna get up tommorrow morning and feel brave again and think fuck that shit, and go be myself again? YES! Hell, absolutely Yes!

Yes – fuck that respect! don’t need it; don’t care. I know my boundaries and myself.

But that’s tomorrow.. Tonight, just tonight that off hand comment, the looks, the words – make me feel stripped off my respect, and just tonight it hurts… Sigh! It does.

Image source: a still from Marathi film Kaagar

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About the Author

Shikha Poddar

Shikha Poddar a mother & entrepreneur, born and brought up in India is a versatile feminist writer who writes in Hindi and English. She is also known for curating classical music evenings and promoting the read more...

9 Posts | 10,540 Views

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