It is exactly seven months to the date since I packed my bags and said bye bye to my life in the big city as the quintessential single girl – independent, liberated, working woman with a more than healthy social life. Fast forward seven months later, I am home with the folks (yay!) but also extremely accessible to the relatives (not so yay!). Life has been generous and I have finally found a job I genuinely enjoy and something that fulfills me. But now I stand on the precipice of the much dreaded affair of the arranged marriage – the nuisance I had managed to dodge successfully till date I now see purely due to geographical reasons.
Is it harder to dodge now? Hell yes! Do I make it any easier being here? Hell no!
But I am not writing this to rave and rant about this inevitable nightmare. (Watch this space!) That is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the… for want of a better word… a deep loathing I feel about ‘acceptable’ and ‘expected’ behavior from a girl.
I was raised in a household where I was never stopped from doing anything on the grounds of my gender. This is not a feminist rant. Or maybe it is. I don’t care. I think every person has the right to an opinion – if Trump can talk and get away with it, I don’t see why anybody can’t. So going back to the case in point, I will tell you what bothers me. I decided to take a break from the city, after being away practically for the entirety of my adult life, to return and be with the folks and figure out my next career move. That’s it. However,what it has been viewed as an opportunity for people to offer their helpful advice to how I should run my life, offers of help to find me the suitable groom etc. It comes with a condition. I need to be a little less of something. That something is a different thing always but pig headed that I am, I only hear it as I need to be little less me. Of all the things I have heard, I think the one that has irked me the most is ” be a little more serious!”
This is where my inner feminist kicks in. Why is it that the onus of being serious lies with the women and men get away with boys will be boys? Why are women expected to be raised to be good wives and men are not raised to be good husbands and householders? Why can men kick back and expect royal treatment after asinine behavior and meek wives comply or why do men feel hen pecked when they feel okay to comply to woman’s wishes as long as it is not unreasonable? Why don’t either of the affected parties stand up and voice their needs?
Here is my problem. And the trigger was some lame hen pecked husband joke. My problem is that in a society that insists on marriage as the natural step of progression, why is there a discourse that makes indulgent jokes at the expense of the women in marriages and fills men with foreboding? Why aren’t women speaking up or rather cracking up about the troubles of dealing with an emotionally unevolved man with an inferiority complex as huge as the Pacific with a equally huge sense of entitlement? I am not saying all men are like that. I know some wonderful men, evolved and attractively secure in themselves. I have known them, been friends with them, loved them and most of all I have had the privilege of being raised by one of them. What I am however saying is that it is the average Joe that is like that – raised to expect the treatment fit for a king. The answer lies in how children are raised. While educated families will stand up and say, we have educated our girls in some university of acclaim, good for you, but that is not what I am talking about. Children should be raised with life skills – cooking, cleaning, driving, fixing electrical issues, being handy around the house etc., irrespective of gender. I have the equal amount of disrespect for a woman who proudly claims that she can’t cook as do I for a guy who can’t fix a broken washer on a tap and vice versa. And why is it that when men crack jokes about their wives in front of friends viewed as easy camaraderie and if a woman does the same she is demonised or viewed as whiny?
This is symptomatic of deeper issues of how there is still much work to be done. Men need to have their freedom to do their own thing without being ridiculed and be raised to know how to look after themselves. They shouldn’t be raised only to be looked after by the mother and then slaved after by the wife. Affection comes in many forms, some of it is in the kitchen and some of it not. And guess what women get hungry too!
Similarly I think, our society needs to raise girls to know how to be alone. They should be taught how to be on their own, know how to manage their finances, fix things around the house, and other handy household hacks. Husbands are meant to be partners to share the load but not because you don’t know how to do something. We need to raise our boys with the emotional freedom to be themselves and not with the pressure of playing knights in shining armors as much as we need to raise our girls without a damsel in distress complex.
Marriage I think is a partnership of equals and not a favor handed out by either side. What I do think as an outsider to the marriage game is that we take the wrong things seriously and the ones that need to be taken seriously, not seriously enough. In simpler words, I could only be with a partner secure enough and makes me feel secure enough to crack a joke at my expense and be able to take it back just as well.
In short, I will continue to laugh and I would like to be with someone I can laugh with and at without questioning the seriousness of our equation. And so the eternal misfit lives on! 😉