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Warning: Long post ahead. Perhaps this post is not as coherent as I would like it to be because the thoughts connected with it are too many and they tumble out haphazardly. Perhaps I have left out things I wanted to say and stressed too much on something else. Anyway here it is as it is. This post was written as a continuation of the dialogue here.  It contains my personal views. If your views differ you may state so, I will counter it if I have something to say against it, or agree to disagree as the case may be. At no time will I tolerate disrespect to either me or other commentators here. Let me also make clear I am writing about marriage in the Indian context. AND don’t waste your time talking about what the Indian culture and tradition says about marriage. I really don’t care much for a culture and tradition that worships women verbally and then  keeps her in servitude as also gropes her slyly in public places. Newcomers to my post, I would advice you to read about me here before commenting.

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To find if anything is overrated or not, we have to first to know what that something gives you and what it is that it takes away in return. So, how does marriage, the much touted institution, fare in that regard??

I have here an answer by Preeti (I am not sure how old she is) which I found on Google Buzz,

“…what do I get in this system of marriage that I can’t have otherwise …. to me its NOTHING .. and I lose a lot ..so the choice is easy … stay single stay happy”

It admirably sums up what I myself have to say. Marriage is nothing but a highly overrated institution the way it exists at present.

I know by saying that I call into question the antecedents of my own marriage, my age, the state of my mental faculties and what not. All these are supposed to influence the opinion anyone holds on marriage according to some. All the unhappily married people are supposed to be against marriage and all the happily married pro-marriage. In the same way those belonging to the older generation are automatically supposed to be pro-marriage (defending their own life perhaps) while the younger generation against it.

Excuse me, please don’t belittle my intelligence or those of the others engaged in this dialogue or judge our joint capabilities to look at things objectively by your inability to look beyond the tip of your own noses set boundaries. So I request that such ridiculous thoughts be put aside and an objective look taken at marriage and why so many of us think it is overrated.

As it stands today, what has marriage to offer a woman?? Please leave out the exceptions, they are too few in number to be counted. Let us talk about the ‘the rule’ only.

Just take a look of the role of women in society. She is not at par with the male of the species. Not yet anyways. Even in the house she grows up in, she is discriminated against. We don’t think a brother making a cup of tea for a tired sister as normal behavior as yet. We are wont to look at it with awe and too much of appreciation. What a good boy he is. But if a girl makes tea for her brother it is passé. Perhaps an appreciative nod to show she is learning her job, to be a good wife and daughter in law, learning how to purport herself as the member of the house she would eventually belong to, is all she gets. Of course it goes without saying that there are no corresponding lessons simultaneously being imparted to the boys on how to be good husbands. More is the pity.

From the frying pan that is her home the woman is dumped into the fire that is her in-laws home by this widely acclaimed event called a wedding which is nothing but the ritualistic and official handing over of the daughter by a set of parents in front of witnesses (who are lavishly wined and dined) to another family after having suitably begged, bribed and convinced them to please take her off their hands for the duration of her lifetime. Puh-leeeze!

A little harsh do you think?? My personal opinion has been (still is) that parents of girls are stupid fools of the highest order spawned by the monster society who instead of setting up their own daughter for life, donate everything and her, to a stranger’s family to do with as they please. Once their great sacrifice is done, they are free to relax. Only few, not even a handful, are bothered about their daughter’s life or welfare from then on because whatever happens post-marriage is her ‘fate’. How very convenient for everyone concerned except the poor woman. The only word a daughter can expect to hear from them is the by now notorious one, ‘adjust!’ Puhleeze!

The families on the other side of the equation, who are the receiver of goods, human and otherwise, act coy and snooty all at the same time. They do the acceptance only after much deliberation, a trifle disdainfully too and after making sure this is the best deal available for the son they have auctioned in the marriage market. When they find the deal satisfactory, they induct the new entrant into their ranks, as the lowest in the pecking order.

Now everyone concerned is happy, the parents (both sets), the extended family (both sets) the neighbors (both sets), the ubiquitous well-wishers (both sets) and the faceless society (one and the same). Culture and tradition have been upheld. Time to rejoice, one more has been successfully caught in the marriage web and throttled. I pity the men who make jokes and make a show about getting ‘hitched’ and losing their freedom. Poor souls, they are talking through their back teeth, because WHAT the bloody hell do they know about this life long serfdom?? It is not just losing your freedom, it is losing your own self that marriage is to a woman.

Of course in the past this very thing was upheld as of great virtue. The woman, the great nurturer, the upholder of family values, the personification of sacrifice found her own salvation in losing her self and putting her family, the recently acquired one that is, before her. How noble she is for doing this. Such and other flattery of similar nature, were rammed down her throat to make her feel good about her helplessness and suffocation. What a royal con!

The woman’s life changes overnight in her new house. What she wears, eats, even the quantity of it, the books she reads, how she combs her hair, where she sleeps, where she sits and how, how she speaks, who she speaks to, who she can speak to….. her whole life is stage managed by others after her marriage. Whether a stay at home person or a career woman, she is expected to be a Super-Woman, up and about at all times at the beck and call of others.

I am not writing anything more about life post-marriage for a woman as I am sick and tired of it all. Each one knows what women are going through even in the present. Read more about a married woman’s plight here. If the woman is not strong in spirit (which very few are by the way they are brought up) by now she just gives up, and unwilling to fight fate any longer joins the throng and sadly becomes part of that very system that victimized her. Can it get any worse than that?? She can’t beat them so she joins them for the petty scraps they throw her way by way of power for favors rendered.

Now tell me frankly, who in their right minds would want to marry to lead such a life??! Who would want to give up the option to a self respecting life, financially independent life, being with friends and having lots of laughter and fun, the freedom to pursue your interests to this _______ (I don’t even have a name for it)??! As an empathizing soul, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through this degradation, instead would want each and everyone to lead a life of freedom and joy and more importantly, self respect.

Desi Girl says, marriages were sold to women on glossy covers.

“….once a woman got married she got to wear good clothes and jewelry that was forbidden for single women. It gave her a free license to talk about sex and sleep with a man who everyone assumed would love her. For all these benefits all she had to do was cook, clean, make babies and keep every one happy. Yes in lieu of her services she is provided a roof over her head, food and protection from other predatory men.”

True enough. But, isn’t it time to put the past behind us?? Don’t fall for the glossy covers sold any more. The pages inside are rough, yellowed and stained. What is it that a woman cannot have for herself without the entanglement of marriage?? Why cook or clean for a bunch of ungrateful strangers (or even the grateful ones) and like a sick puppy wait for their pats of approval?? Can’t women cook and clean for their own selves, their own homes?? Can’t they lead a single life and be happy about it?? She can sleep happily under her own roof. What the hell, she can talk sex or even sleep with a man as she pleases. And to hell with the double standards of society. If they want a kid, they can have one if they are ready to bring it up or even adopt one. And to hell with people who say single parenthood doesn’t work. Oh really??! I don’t see anyone in a tearing hurry to marry off widows because her children need a father. Not in the past, not now.

Whenever I read what people who defend marriage have to say, I find that I don’t even have to punch holes in their argument, the holes are all too evident. Companionship, people to take care of you in your old age etc are some of those put forward as plus points. In answer, I ask the same question I have quoted above. How come no one thinks of the widow when the topic of companionship comes up?! She lives her life doesn’t she?? Besides, is it not for the individual to make the choice whether she wants companionship or not?? As for children to take care of you in old age, I would like to know how many of those with children have them close by to take care of them in their old age and how many if they are right beside you are actually doing it?? Would you even want to ask your children to leave their jobs to come and hold your hand for you??! I definitely agree with the lady in this post who says, when she is older she would like to spend her time in a community for older people closer to her age.

I know the post is pretty long already. But I cannot help but talk about a comment I read before winding up. The lady in her pro-marriage comment said ‘marriage is not about sex and procreation alone’. THAT my dear lady is exactly my point! It is NOT. BUT that is how it has been in the past. Period. It is still viewed thus by a lot of people to this day.

The ‘arranged by the family’ marriages and the obsession with first-nights proves beyond doubt that marriage was considered the license for sex. What else is this first night rather than two total strangers indulging at the first opportunity they get?? And yet people dare say marriage is not about sex??!! What a joke. The fixation of the population with the expected arrival of the baby (which mostly happened exactly 9 months and a few days after the wedding) and the frequently asked questions of newly weds for ‘good news’ proves that marriage was indeed about progeny and carrying forward of the family name. And to a great extent it still continues to be so. Get married, have sex, make babies. Getting to know each other?? What’s that??!! Go and make the iddli-sambar (or alu-parantha) you silly fool! The fancy ideas the young generation has. They want to get to know each other, huh??!

In fact marriages of the past never meant for husbands and wives to be companions, if at all that happened, it was only incidental. Even to this day I hear curious older ladies asking, ‘What does she have so much to talk about to her husband??’ if they see a husband and wife deep in conversation. Who is not aware that in the past (still so in many families), the wife only saw her husband during the nights?! You have to agree that was not for talking purpose or for fostering camaraderie!

Many men (and the women in his house) forget that the woman he marries is his wife not the family’s new all-in-one caretaker and maid. I have said this to many people in real life and I repeat it here again. If men want their physical needs satisfied and also their family to be looked after, the solution to it is NOT marriage. When it comes to taking care of the family either the man has to do it on his own or has to appoint a home nurse, and pay him/her for the services. As for his physical needs, they also can be met in other ways. But there are those (both men and women) who DO want more out of marriage than mere food, clothes and shelter, sex and progeny and the taking care of his parents. Such people also look for mutual respect, equality, mental compatibility, companionship, emotional attachment, togetherness and all that, and rightly so. And of course they also look out for the welfare of her parents (because parents you see are parents, his are no different from hers) too. May be for such people, marriage is a viable institution. For the rest I’d say, run for your dear life.

Other posts on the topic:

Marriage- The great Indian scam

Marriages are sold to Indian women in a glossy cover…?

My answer to IHM’s question

Marriage: Obligatory or Voluntary

Yes, I am single. So?

Is marriage so important?