Yesterday when I was filling an official document, I was stuck on a column where I had to choose one among Mr/Mrs/Miss. As I recently got married, this was the first time I had to think twice before filling it. I filled Mrs hastily but it got hitched inside me. I failed to understand why the world wants to know only about the marital status of a woman? I always wonder why another honorific is not made for men who are married.
One or two decades ago, another term as Ms became popular which was originated in middle of 1900s. It is used for women who can be married or unmarried. Women who use the term seemed to be more identified as a “women’s libber” rather than as married or single.
But is this really a solution? May be yes, but you can’t see this option everywhere or on all the documents and Mrs still exist.
Marital status of a woman is still an important point of social fabric almost everywhere. If people look at a woman, they gaze at her head to toe to check if any of the signs of marital status is found on her body or not.
Our tradition teaches women to put vermilion on her forehead, wearmangalsutra, put bindi, wear bangles and toe rings after marriage to look married and stick some illogical reasons behind them like not wearing them may reduce your husband’s life. In 21st century how can people even relate someone’s age on another person’s attire or accessories? And why those people don’t even care about a wife’s age? They should also make some traditions for men to care about women’s long life. Women are often asked to wear a particular type of clothes after marriage which is not at all the case with men.
The biggest irony is women are asked to stop wearing all these if her husband dies.
I have heard more than hundred times in six months of my marriage that I should look married and wear all these marital symbols. And this is not only from the old-aged orthodox people but also from the ‘highly educated’ modern women. I observed that the ladies those who are mostly free and nothing to do whole day carries the responsibility to never let the traditions disappear and worries mostly about the welfare and long life of other’s husbands. They are most curious to know whether a woman is single, married, divorcee or widow.
Many of my friends give excuses of unproved scientific reasons and health benefits for wearing these marital symbols like applying sindoor controls blood pressure and activate sexual drive. So, should we assume that only Indian women and especially Hindu women need this sexual drive and the women who don’t apply sindoor doesn’t have sexual drive? I have also heard wearing bangles cause constant friction with the wrist which increases the blood circulation. Then, why our poor men are not privileged enough to improve their blood circulation? This doesn’t ends here, there are many more.
If women continue to give such illogical explanations, how would things change? There is still a long way to go for women to get equal status in Indian society. One of my friends told me she likes it and do it as her personal choice but, I strongly believe that her choices are derived from our patriarchal societal norms.
If for a moment let us assume that there are really some scientific reasons behind these traditions, then also I believe traditions should not be bigger than one’s personal choice. If not, we have no right to call ourselves living in an ‘Independent India’.
It’s high time we women need to stop following this stereotype patriarchal norms blindly. We should together say No to be identified as someone’s someone. The least one can do is to stop pulling one another down and think about these before practicing and try to find the logic without saying, “our ancestors are following and so are we” or “what’s wrong in following the traditions?”.
I might sound offensive but trust me; it is for the good and equal rights of women all over the world. I don’t have any personal issues with women who follow these traditions as I truly believe everyone has her/his own perspective but, yes I too have my right to speak what I feel need to change and allow myself to choose what I feel is equitable for me.
This post was submitted in response to Courageous Conversations.