If you’re an unmarried Indian woman between 20 and 35, we totally understand why you dread attending family gatherings. It’s hard not to sulk each time a concerned auntie comes up to you and asks, “Beta, when are you giving us some good news? When are you getting married?” You have to master the art of swallowing your words when the exclamation – “you are next!” – is pointedly made towards you.
Why the rush? There are so many singles in India because obviously, marriage is not the be-all and end-all of life for them. Self-realisation and financial independence before marriage rank higher on their list of priorities.
While there is no harm in being asked marriage-related questions, it is the assumption that a woman’s main achievement is marriage and not her career that tends to agitate the strong, independent millennials of today. Aishwarya Rao, a career-oriented, unmarried 27-year-old says, “If a man says that he is waiting to settle down in his career before starting a family it is seen as the mature decision. However, if a woman wants to do the same, it is deemed unacceptable.” On Feb 15, 2017, Usman Ghani sparked the internet with a story of a childhood friend who was always brilliant in academics and went on to becoming an engineering professor at a high-caliber university, however it was then that her parents told her to get married to a ‘well-off’ family and that meant, she had to ‘quit her job and live as a housewife’. Things went from bad to worse, as the man ‘couldn’t stomach a woman having an education or an opinion’. Sadly, this story reflects the sentiment of marriage in India.
A majority of Indian marriages compartmentalises the male and the female into playing two distinctive roles: The male plays the breadwinner and the female plays the submissive, doting wife. This age-old role playing has no implication on 25-year-old Nikita Mankani’s idea of marriage, “Respect and looking after each other, is a two-way street”, she firmly states.
The strong women millennials of today will be ready to marry a man who has dismissed the undeserving throne of superiority and entitlement that Indian husbands sit on, and is ready for an equal marriage. This man does not expect the woman to leave her family and live with his. This man does not trump his career over his wife’s. He shares an equal role in domestic chores. This man accepts that you have an equal role to play as a breadwinner of the family. But unfortunately, for the young woman of today ‘this man’ is a very rare breed. According to relationship mentor, Rajeeva Ranjan, divorce rates are ‘rising at an alarming rate’ in India, and the primary reason for this increase is attributed towards ‘the financial independence of women’.
Therefore, one can’t blame the young women of today who prefer to stay single than give up their years of education and dreams to be the ever-ready glorified servant of a misogynistic man.
So When Are You Getting Married?
Coming back to those unrelenting marriage-related questions, the next time you’re put in a spot, give them a piece of your mind. 25-year-old Kamini Rao adds a little humour to the situation by retorting, “I have so many men lined up that it is just so hard to pick one!” Another brilliant comeback according to Nikita Mankani is to “hit them with divorce statistics and the number of affairs happening in marriages these days and then look at them and ask–why the rush?”
To all the independent, single ladies out there—you are not alone. Your sentiments are echoed not only by many in your generation but also by experts in the field. Rajeeva Ranjan firmly believes that “men have always had an advantage in patriarchal societies but there has to be a limit to arrogance, abuse and prejudice that a woman is subjected to in India. It is high time that men realise that marriage is a two-way adjustment.”
So don’t give in to an unwanted situation because of any societal pressure, because it is you who will initiate the desperate need for change in this male-centric institution.
Image Credit: Dharma Productions