Marriage- The ‘communion’ of two souls. Hearing this word marriage, we imagine a perfect picture of life ahead. ‘In the real world’, unfortunately, this is not the true picture. A girl is born and is welcomed in a family with tears. ‘Many parents are unhappy at not being blessed with a son but instead with a girl who will one day be married off in another home.’ She is made to play with dolls so she learns to take care of the men in her entire life. She is often told not to include her surname in her signature because she has to change it one day. The boy has to become a man in the future and support the family.
Though, people are now embracing feminism by not opting to take the husband’s name after marriage (as is suggested by the new study conducted by Facebook), there are still some women who voluntarily accept this subjugation. When a person gets married, the whole occasion is embedded with sexist philosophies that give stereotypes to both men and women.
When a girl is wedded she is given away to a man by her father- as part of most religious ceremonies. What is she? An object to be transferred? After that she is expected to be a mere social hieroglyphic to be displayed in public. On reaching a certain marriageable age she is expected to change the way she dresses and be perfect in household chores like cooking, housekeeping, laundry etc. She is expected to alter her body language and refrain from openly keeping male friends outside of her family. If she is ‘fortunate’ enough to get married into a wealthy family, she is told to leave her job and take care of her home. She is supposed to be a virgin and does not exercise a choice when it comes to sex after marriage or outside it. The woman has to change her sleeping patterns, food habits, surname (and even first name in some families) and almost everything that will make her emerge as a Bhardawaj and not a Sharma. Her entire self identity undergoes a transformation behind the brilliant veil of tradition. She is raised to believe that she truly belongs to the family in which she will be married into.
A man has to conform to the stereotypical definition of a Man. He has to earn and be strong. He is shown a picture of a woman who looks completely flawless. He is led to believe that he’s being set up with a perfect girl. A month after marriage he wakes up and sees a completely changed woman sleeping next to him- Someone not remotely close to the girl shown in the matrimonial picture. We need to fix our ideas on outward appearances. Why focus so much on looks, why demand a fair docile feminine wife? Why ask for a tall, dark and handsome guy who has to earn? Why can’t he be given the choice of not working if he doesn’t want to?
The saddest part is that the bride has to leave her home, while her parents stand with folded hands expecting she be treated well in spite of bearing a major portion of the expenses and fulfilling demands of a hefty dowry. Any rebel would be casted off from this society. No matter how far feminism has reached within India – The ultimate aim in life is Marriage. There is a need to deconstruct these ideologies. Why can’t men and women both leave their respective homes and move into a home of their own after marriage? Can we even comprehend the idea of parents of both the boy and the girl living under the same roof with the couple. The need of the hour is to question and reshape the ‘traditional’ marriage and give it the status of an institution that talks about equality and not sexism.