I just read this article by Rashmi Bansal. The “White Tiger” reference doesn’t really interest me, but the story makes me think. The lady in question is smart, urban, well-educated, and financially independent. Yet, she chooses to let her parents make a decision on her behalf, without so much as meeting the man she eventually married. She saw him, just as he did, among a hundred other relatives. And she chose to hand over her life, her likes, her dislikes and her independence to him. All because Papa told her to. This makes me wonder if we even make the effort to speak up. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that women enjoy being emotionally enslaved to another. But, we are often too resigned to our fate, because there is no other way this can be.

Then, there is the question of who is responsible for women being treated as doormats. Upbringing? Society? Parents? Family? Or the woman herself? This lady is a case in point. She worked in a college before marriage. She gave it up for marriage. Now, she wants to work but can’t seem to find a job. She will also not work in the industry because papa told her that it’s not appropriate. And no, I am not criticizing her. But, I really feel bad that other people have so much of a control over our lives. It hurts that women here cannot dare to dream, or even hope; that much of our lives is way beyond our control. This control is exercised by parents, friends, family, society and every other external factor you can think about. It’s crazy how we get so caught up in this idea of duty and obligation that we don’t even stop to think about whether this is what we really want from our life.

This lady cannot fall in love. Forget falling in love, she cannot even think of a man in that way. Because, she is not expressive, in her own words. No…scratch that! She is not allowed to be expressive. Because expressing love, wanting to express it, or wanting to see it expressed is a bad thing. This is true with most Indian families. The touch is taboo. We cannot touch to express how much we love someone, even if it’s a parent or a sibling. We cannot express it verbally either. Because of a rather deluded concept of love being silent. She cannot choose her life partner because parents know better what kind of man is required in her life. So what if he is less qualified, had a string of girlfriends, or arrogant. Parents know better! Sigh! When will this end? When will we stop treating our daughters like cattle, which needs to be sold off to the highest bidder when still saleable?

Maybe I am being emotional here, but that’s just me. Rashmi calls it the hen coop. Maybe it is. Or maybe it’s simply a gilded cage that apparently offers all kinds of comforts but still clips your wings when you wish to fly. I have wings now. I wish to fly. I wish to let my dreams take flight. And for the last 27 years, nobody or nothing has come in my way. I can only hope that it will remain that way. I can hope because unlike millions of other women in this world, I am privileged. I am privileged to have been born in an urban, progressive household; privileged to be educated; privileged to have parents who will not force me to do anything that I do not want to. No, not even get married. Unfortunately, not all women are this privileged. But, this brings me back to my original point. Being able to live your life should not be a privilege. It should be a right. When will the rest of the female half of humanity get this right? Anytime soon?

The terrible M-word!

5 thoughts on “The terrible M-word!

  • September 29, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Read your post and Rashmi’s too.

    I knew a woman who got married at 21, as soon as she completed her masters and flew abroad with her husband and even had 2 kids. Now at 33, her heart flutters for another man and for the first time she has discovered that she is in love. The 2 kids are just products of copulation, not love!

    She told her friend that it was duty and obligation that is keeping her to live with her husband bcoz she was married to him. Now, when she has fallen in love she is in a fix with her desires.

    I would blame her parents for upbringing and social conditioning that channelised her parents to bring her up this way.

    This is the plight of so many million women. A man can always chet in a relationship and get away with it. But, ultimately, it falls on the woman to uphold the family’s honour and what-not! It’s so unfair! 🙁

  • September 30, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    i guess its the women who brought it about themselves.. and now they do something new that men have been doing all while along and its hailed..i never got the hang of it.. are they themselves saying we are inferior and we did it too.. and if they are indeed equal why even celebrate..free

    Didn’t quite get that. Are you talking about the cheating bit? If so, it’s simply unacceptable. I don’t advocate adultery of any sort. I think it’s a terrible idea. But, can you blame the woman for getting attracted to someone? I doubt? You can’t blame men either. The question here is about the right to choose what kind of man you would like to spend the rest of your life with. Same goes for men. When people are denied that choice, there will always be problems.

  • September 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina deals with this question.There Anna’s husband refuses to give divorce to Anna leaving her in a big dilemma.She is with her lover Vronsky’s child but the child will be Karenin’s by law.Vronsky is in an awkward situation too.Finally Anna dies.In the novel the dominant view of the times giving the man right over the females in his nearest circle as if women were no different from pet animals to be pampered when the master is in a good mood and be discarded when the master is not favorably disposed towards the pet having found another pet more to his liking is predominant.It is so because Tolstoy himself was from a privileged background and perhaps unconsciously he expressed the social views of his class.
    I am not passing judgement on Tolstoy.A work of fiction beautifully presented while at the same time being a vehicle to convey his own ideas may be the correct description of the novel.Bertrand Russel’s second wife Dora had an affair with an American freelance photographer and gave birth to two male children one of whom was adopted by the Russel family.But such things are rare and men and women are very possessive about their objects of adoration/fascination mad love whatever name you call it.In feudal societies males exercise property rights over the females of their families,clans and castes and at times even of their religion.
    It is this ownership that provokes men to commit murders in the name of honour of the family, tribe,caste or community.Unless this ownership remains with the males and ‘virtuous women’ feel proud of being one of the objects desired by the master things can’t be expected to change for the better.

  • October 10, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Selvan this in your comment is a quotable quote!! ownership remains with the males and ‘virtuous women’ feel proud of being one of the objects desired by the master things can’t be expected to change for the better.

  • October 10, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    From childhood, from every source, some media, teachers, and family and elders and religious heads … they are bombarded with brainwashing talk to condition them to be ‘obedient objects of desire’…

    They are even taught that wanting to be happy is not becoming!!!

    It’s disgusting isn’t it? Even yesterday, during a conversation someone told me that men were ultra-possessive of their wives and girlfriends because they wanted to safeguard their property!! As if we are cattle, or land!! It is impossible!


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