No privileges for single ladies

Of late, I am beginning to believe I should either be male or get married. If I were male, I would be enjoying many freedoms by default (this needs no repeating). However, recent developments have also brought to light the notion of “But she is married.”

It is understood that there are certain things I will not (or should not) do, so long as I live with my parents. To name a few: getting a tattoo, colouring my hair or cutting it really short, travelling alone, going out with male friends on their (or my) two-wheelers, drinking and partying, staying out late, working and/or studying*, having pets (!). Funnily enough, all these actions seem to be viewed as acceptable when a married girl does them.

What is the explanation behind this?

  • Is it because I will no longer be under my parents’ jurisdiction?
  • The precinct I report to will be headed by my husband, whose approval is paramount (overriding the approval of parents at every stage). This way, I can share pictures of myself with a tall glass of margarita, or get a tattoo on my lower back, or suddenly sport purple hair, or go on a solo trip – if I have been permitted by my husband to do so, surely it cannot be questioned.
  • If I am married, I am automatically accorded respect that was until then lacking. It is understood that I am responsible (because I agreed to getting married remember?), and therefore I can be entrusted with any of the activities previously considered “immoral.”

Apparently, we can live anywhere in the world, but we will never stop thinking the honour of a family rests with the girl’s conduct outside her home.

*This is complex. For instance, I can study, but not study too much. That is, stop with a post-graduate course, don’t start a doctorate. I believe my reproductive system will fail by the time I complete my doctorate, or I will be at that level in life which has no name yet (Beyond Expired). Also, I can work, but not work too far from home. I can move out of my house, but be reachable by road within the same day, or be willing to move back any time.

At times, I feel an inordinate sense of pride. After all, I tolerate so much bullshit every single day. Somebody needs to build a statue in my honour on the Marina promenade. 😀

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16 thoughts on “No privileges for single ladies

  1. Oh, the grass is always greener in the other side. When you are married and stay late at office to get some work done, you are constantly told that you should head back home early and do the household chores or help your MIL (if you happen to live with your in-laws like I used to) to get the dinner done. It really doesn’t matter whether or not you have understanding in-laws, the people around would keep insisting that now you are married, certain privileges are revoked from you. For example, I used to volunteer at an NGO where I was constantly questioned post marriage if I would be okay with doing n number of things; which were taken for granted before my wedding. If my husband and I went to movies, we were questioned why we have left his parents at home. If we all went together then my in-laws were hinted by well meaning relatives that they should give us privacy. I wasnt even considered for some short-term on-site oppurtunities; ‘she is married, after all’. We lived alone for the first few months into the marriage. My husband used to travel to the other end of the city for his work and used to leave early. So, breakfast was always his job and dinner was mine. I was judged for that; doesn’t wake up early in the morning like a ‘family girl’ (never mind that I slogged till late night to finish off chores). And God forbid if I planned to go with my girl friends for a day out! And if you ever dare to miss a family gathering or festival because of your work, you would be automatically labelled ‘romba career minded’. My parents-in-law are truly the nice, understanding type. My SIL is my age and works in my field as well. So they understood exactly what was happening in my career and how my thougts played out to a large extent and were always suuportive. But these judgments from the outside were pretty annoying. On the one hand, I was portrayed as the model daughter-in-law because I cook well and get along well with my MIL. I mean, I have loved cooking since I was 12. But on the other hand, I was this girl who would sometimes work till midnight at home and weekends: that is a big no-no.i never liked to do that either, but that was because i was getting nowhere with my work life at that point of time, but does anyone ask you? It is too tiring when you agree with what is said, but not for why they think you do.

    Women are judged, always. I don’t think it is just single women. Yes, after what is considered an unacceptable age (it might be anywhere between 24 to 32), single women are literally tortured. If you married and haven’t made a baby by the time you are 30, it is a similar torture. And if you have a girl child and crossed 36 and still haven’t bothered to make a little brother for your daughter, you would be ‘hinted’ to make one. One of my colleague at office was sick and tired of this.

    Ah yes, anyone, absolutely anyone can ask you about your plans for making a baby; when and why included.

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    1. As I was writing, I kept thinking, I’m sure it’s not going to end even five ten or fifteen years later. And then I feel truly frustrated..nothing you do is ever enough maybe. There will always be some other thing that is found lacking and you will be judged for it. I was wondering about having a baby specifically. Do you know, for a long time, I didn’t realize it could be a choice..? I felt like I was institutionalized. Haha.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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  2. Truth on both side, no doubt.

    Anu: Yes, the reason you should not have a tattoo now is that some respectable guy would refuse to marry you even if the other criteria are met. If he approves then the sky is the limit.
    After marriage your rules are as follows.

    If (he = ambitious)
    {
    you = keep house and not expect him to do stuff ( he is busy with work)
    you = earn, but not more than him
    }
    else
    {
    you = keep house and not expect him to do stuff (so he does not get a complex)
    you = earn a lot to make up for it, but keep mentioning that he is the boss
    }

    If (he = religious)
    {
    you = be hyper-religious (you are obliged to be slightly more religious than him)
    }
    else
    {
    you = be hyper-religious (you are obliged to make up for him too)
    }

    If (he = gets tatoo)
    {
    you = get girly tattoos and show appropriate skin.
    note: appropriate skin needs to be toned and sexy ( not too sexy)
    }
    else
    {
    you = don’t either
    }

    There are other rules. But I don’t want to overheat your brain.

    Madhu: I am reminded of a recent conversation.

    I was in the office bus and was playing cards.(bad bad married woman that I am)
    A conversation went like this.

    Me: So yesterday, I went into the kitchen and …
    Unmarried Woman (loudly): What? Kitchen aaa? Nejamaava? Neenga Samaipeengala? You said you don’t cook.
    Me: I eat.

    One thing that amuses me is that very often unmarried women and men often (but not always) assume that it is ok if they go home and watch serials/cricket/news when mom or wife brings dinner, whereas I should go home at 8 and immediately begin to cook for the family at 8:00 and feed them by 8:04 and finish washing the dishes by 8:30 and sit and make meaningful conversion for 2 hours after that. It goes without saying that I don’t.

    I hear this all the time. The questions about marriage being intrusive, questions about first baby and second baby being intrusive, questions about culinary skills or the lack of it being intrusive and all that. The answer is simple. Learn to sing “It’s my life, it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just gonna live when I’m alive. IT’S. MY. LIFE” quietly. If it doesn’t work, sing it aloud. Trust me, THAT works like charm.

    HA HA.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rahini: I am not bothered by these stuff, in the sense that I get upset about it. But, it does get on one’s nerves at times. Like I said, we always get judged, no matter what.

    That singing part, ha ha. I usually say controversial stuff to shut people up.

    Sample: (prior to my baby)
    Random colleague (bachelor): so, when are you planning for a baby?
    Me: I don’t believe in increasing world population, I consider it a crime.
    RC (slightly worried): you can’t be serious!
    Me: you mean to tell me that you are going to make a baby? Really? Urgh!
    RC storms off, affronted and mad.

    Needless to say, this can’t always be employed and especially not on all people.

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  4. All that I wanted to write has already been written in the post or the comments 🙂 You go girl. Get a tattoo and color your hair, [only if you want, I for one am not happy that I did 😦 ]
    Express yourself, travel, party and work. No one can make your decisions for you, but at the same time no one will take responsibility for them either. So if you do decide to get a pet, make sure you can take care of it by yourself. Lastly, one commentator has very aptly said, “It’s my life, it’s now or never, I ain’t gonna live forever, I just gonna live when I’m alive. IT’S. MY. LIFE” Sing it out loud!

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  5. Being judged by people around you is par of the course , even for married men. ( though bachelors are very very lucky). Our society is judgmental , may be more unfairly judgmental about women but it’s something no one living India can escape.

    A few months after marriage and staying with my parents , we decided to move independently and my parents and in-laws were perfectly fine with it, but the judgmental looks and questions from relatives( mostly on my parents side) and shockingly a few friends was more than annoying. It was somehow perceived as a man’s weakness that he decided to move out of his parent’s house.

    When my wife was carrying , we decided to move to my in-laws place ,as she felt comfortable being with her parents during that time. I can tell you for a while even my MIL was a little uncomfortable that I have moved in with them ( she was worried about how people will judge me)

    About career, men wear their career achievements as a badge of honor so turning down an opportunity ( onsite travel , promotion etc.) for the sake of your family is still looked at as a weakness, although things are improving on that front.

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    1. You are right about that, everyone gets interrogated and questioned. Though from where I stand, it looks like the power structure goes something like this: single women < married women < single men < married men
      😀
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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    2. Srinivas, I came to this post after a long time. I completely agree with you.

      The poser structure may be “single women < married women < single men < married men". But throw in the expectations to earn and be generous and all that, and judgementality does make its precence felt is a man's life.

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  6. Okay I am going to change my name here.But having been in an exhausting/draining marriage for the last couple of years which came apart at the seams yesterday I think I can tell you a couple of things(which I always wondered about before I got married)
    1.Looks don’t matter.Something I thought was pretty stupid when my elders told me this.But truer words have never been spoken.Like the cliche goes looks don’t last.But a loving respectful marriage will.
    2.Never and I repeat never marry a man who abuses you(verbal or physical)If he does it once,he will repeat.Forever.There will be apologies and presents,but that’s just the calm before the next storm.Run for the hills if you meet somebody like this.
    3.Ask(light heatedly of course) the prospective fiance about his parents’ marriage/relationship.If their’s was rocky,it’s a pretty good indication yours will be too.Children learn both the good and the bad from their parents especially how spouses are treated.It’s a vicious cycle.
    4.And it’s better to wait for the right person or not be in a relationship at all than be in one that is threadbare.
    Good luck and follow your instincts.If they say no,it’s for a reason.

    Liked by 1 person

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