The Feminist Times
Let’s Talk Marriage: Case of India
People, especially women, often grow up believing that marriage is a particularly pivotal part of their life. Parents save for their daughters' marriage for years at a stretch to be able to host a ceremony that the society admires and appreciates. In an utopian world, marriage would match with this definition, a key amalgamation of two individuals and families deserving a huge celebration for its significance alone. But in the world we live in, marriage is far from that. Marriage has for a long time now, set unrealistic and over the top expectations on both the individuals. A marriage is about a relationship, one that you create and work on everyday. It is the constant mutual commitment to the other's comfort and prosperity. However, social expectations and appearances have come to play a major role in marriages. A careerist woman can be a homemaker, a girl in her late twenties is as good a match as a girl in her early twenties, an opinionated lady is still graceful and a woman who is unperturbed about orthodox traditions can still be respectful. Similarly,a married man who goes out with his friends regularly still loves his family, an unemployed male is still capable of supporting his family, a man who does the household chores is still manly and a man who respects his wife instead of controlling her is just as stout-hearted, if not more than, the others. Marriage, therefore, need not be translated into a complete annihilation of one’s freedom.
Something as sacred as it should not be synonymous to a universal solution for all flaws of the individual. A woman who “steps out of line” cannot be threatened with marriage, and the same applies to a man who misjudges situations. This only results in the individuals rebelling against marriage or equating it to proverbial shackles. In addition to this, there are several unrealistic expectations placed on married men and women, both of whom are expected to make life altering changes in their behavior. While every relationship demands sacrifice and adjustment, bending over backwards to fit the stereotype is unsound. This is not only undeserved by both, but unfair to the future generation also whom it justifies slanted dominance and conveys that toxicity is acceptable as long as it is a part of a huge social appeasement program. The darker
shade of this appears when walking out of a toxic marriage equals to destroying the reputation and social credibility of multiple individuals. Marriage is an event, and it coming to be synonymous to individuals and their family’s identity places too much pressure on the institution. This pressure automatically translates into toxic traits which the younger generation picks up on. The example of marriages set by the older generations have not been very encouraging. The aforementioned slanted dominance was recently illustrated by the raging marriage ban after the criminalization of marital rape. The obvious problem is that marriage cannot be seen as consent. The less obvious one is men believing in their privilege and social dominance enough to declare a ban and expecting it to take effect based on women’s perceived dependence on them and therefore, expecting the reversal of the much needed legislation to revert back to
oppressive practices which rob their wives of individuality and autonomy. Seeing the power imbalance in families, several youngsters are apprehensive to get married.
Young women wish to be financially stable and established before they choose to marry for they do not want to be dependent on a person in a way that handicaps them as they have seen the women in their families be. Young men see marriage as an inordinate restriction which threatens their independence.
Marriage is most definitely an important part of everyone’s life, but it is much more than a
beautiful ceremony and the perfect family screen put up for the society. It is the support, love, respect, and amity which two individuals deserve in equal measures. Marriage is a constant dance, if one falls out of step the other covers up, but these roles cannot be stereotyped by gender. The idolization of marriage only serves to rob it of its sanctity and honor. At the same time, marriage is also a responsibility and promise, one that must not reflect redundant social expectations but healthy and consensual togetherness.
- Apoorva Panda