Jaa Simran and the expectations from new age Goddesses

Let me start today with my recent favorite topic from the bundle: Marriage.

We all have an idea of marriage and it means different things to us, over and above a standard notion with which we have grown up, seen and understood the institution.

As a representative of a generation of women who wish to identify themselves as independent, educated and strong enough to refute certain traditional, ritualistic expectations, I see marriage as a mixed bundle, in theory and practice. Well certainly it makes one change their view of life, bow down to certain customs , relent to some not so pleasant expectations and make and effort to be stubborn and accommodating at the same time. Having said that, I want to know why we do all these things?

-because you were desperate to be “married” and then to make it work

-because that is how you were expected to behave

-because that is how it has been and that is how it is

-because you felt it was the right thing to do

-because you wanted to, without any reason

I say, because maybe all of the above? Or Maybe for completely different reasons.

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image copyright reserved by DESITRIBE

Recently, I had two close encounters with marriage. No, not my own. One being an intense conversation with someone who accused me of becoming domesticated after marriage and the other being the wedding of a close friend. These, for me, were two facets of the debate. What have I become as a result of marriage and what does one expect while entering into it? By virtue of not marrying,  does one become stronger or bolder and  does marriage itself  turn us into weaklings with no minds of our own? The accusation hurt me to the core because I truly believe that fruitful companionship helps us become better, progressive people who can work for their dreams. I cannot pronounce it with a qualification of being better than single-hood because it does not make sense to generalize these personal, subjective situations. And I would sincerely expect people to do the same. If you see a person and their relationship through the lens of your experience, it will never be a fair view.

Having said that, I am fully aware of the illogical and subservient expectations Indian marriages put on women. Rather, the baseless cultural expectations from women around marriage. But my problem is, when it takes us modern women decades to break the customs in our own families why do we expect our sisters to do the same within days, when they enter their marital homes. First it is unfair that women land up in a strange house after the long cacophony of wedding that has stretched into months while they almost lost sense of reality, second, they need time to understand the real issues to be worked on and third, most of them are aware that rebelling on the first day might not be a great idea anywhere.

However, the problem begins here. Many women do not know their partners well enough to start with, nor does the man fully know the role his mother and wife can don when in a relationship of the “in-law” (in-lawlessness would be better). This complicates further when the woman is supposed to address her parents in laws as intimately as her own parents and act like she was born in that very home. YES it is not justified, its unfair and foolish. Completely agree. But it still does not undermine the value of love for a companion for life.

Perhaps the problems do not start here. They start when we are conceived, often with an expectation of the foetus turning out to be a male child, when our sex and gender is determined, when customs are forced upon our mothers and on us. To blame another woman for choices she makes being aware of all this, is a little unfair. You have to be respectful of the wisdom others have gained in their lives, the other sides of the stories they are part of and let them have their struggles. If you care, you have to be on their side, take part in their fight and let them become who they aspire to be.

Do not ask the women around you to become who you want to be. By doing so, with your new found feminism, you end up becoming the very patriarch you claim to pull down. As says my rendition of JAA SIMRAN, let her go and find her way (disclaimer- i am not using it to represent the father letting go of the daughter into the arms of the prince).


The popular shot from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where Simran succeeds in fighting off her clan to be with Raj. Duh. Taken from http://www.india-forums.com

 

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4 thoughts on “Jaa Simran and the expectations from new age Goddesses

  1. I am glad that this post throws up some important issues surrounding feminism and marriage that I have grappled with at a personal level and also seen many women in my circle struggle with. To a large extent it is a conflict of identities. We perceive our identity as feminists incompatible with our roles in marriage – except for a few lucky women. So we either choose one over the other or continue to remain in constant conflict between the choices. Let me start by responding to the big questions about the topic at hand- marriage.
    First of all, marriage does not one make one weak or strong. But it is the experiences, and decisions we consciously make about our lives, that makes us strong. I firmly believe that marriage, if it is not plagued by compromise, adjustment and sacrifice, presents a great opportunity for self-development. Just like any other relationship in our life where we learn to extend ourselves beyond our own selfish needs, it can make us more compassionate and stronger in the process. Against it is not the institution that makes you weak, but the choices that you consciously make as a part of being that institution.
    Secondly, this post highlights one of the biggest misconceptions regarding feminism that I have been forced to encounter many times in the past few years. If you are a feminist, you cannot be a good mother, wife, girlfriend, or a companion. A feminist does not “value the love of a companion for life”. Whenever I hear this, quite honestly, it reeks of defensiveness. It is someone telling me “I choose not to be a feminist, because I love my husband and kids and I want to be a good wife.” This implies that feminism and companionship/family are two irreconcilable and incompatible notions. It is really sad that we modern women see ourselves in this light. If the same husband refused to accept customs and what it demanded of you, would you love him less? I guess not. The truth is what we label as love, is in reality fear. Fear that if I stand up and protest, I will lose the respect and love I have from the man and his family. Unfortunately, we don’t realise that we deserve this respect and love while remaining true to who we are. Not by compromising our values, freedom and identity. Any relationship that demands you to change (and by change I don’t mean how you brush your teeth) needs to be questioned. No matter what is at stake.
    Thirdly, what is feminism? Feminism is increasingly becoming a bad word in the Western world. Feminism is an ideology that is based on equal rights for men and women. It does not say that women should rule the world or stop doing anything that is “feminine”. We need to first understand this and decide where we place ourselves in this ideology. It is harder than it sounds. If you are someone who believes that the rituals, customs, and expectations that come along with your marriage propagate regressive gender roles, it is uncomfortable to you and if continued in the name of tradition, is detrimental to your daughters, as a feminist, you have responsibility to question, debate and refuse to accept them. If you don’t want to do this, but would rather enjoy the hullabaloo of happy family and go along with the madness, then you are not a feminist. Unfortunately you cannot be on both sides of the fence at the same time. And it doesn’t make any sense, that we criticize violation of freedom outside our homes, but choose to ignore it within our home and call it love.
    As women, we are hardwired to be relational. We value our relationships and affiliation more than any other success in life- the reason why more women are willing to give up their jobs to move with their husbands than the other way around. The same reason we would always prefer to marry someone who is earning a little bit more than us. The same reason we choose to put our ambitions on the backburner for the sake of saving the relationship. We will always remain more relational than men to some degree. But I believe that our generation of women are different from our mothers because we have a validation for our choices that our mothers did not have. Most of us ignore this luxury because we are plain lazy. It is true. It is inconvenient to wait to get married, negotiate these things before marriage, it is inconvenient to say no to customs that are forced on you, it is inconvenient to draw boundaries in relationships, it is inconvenient to see the faults in the man you married, it is inconvenient to admit you made a mistake and rectify it. We have all done it at some point. We choose convenient options out of our laziness. But dear sisters, please don’t label your laziness as love. It is classic conflict avoidance. Any change requires conflict, at the internal or external level. There will be no change without some level of conflict. Please remember that you enjoy the choices you have today because someone before you chose the inconvenience of conflict in their homes and outside. If you are a feminist you will choose it too because you still want to change some things about the world.

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