Why We End Up Staying With The "Wrong" Man
As I write this, it is almost evening. My friend Parama, just left for her hometown. She had a break up a few days back. It was getting into her, so she took a few days off and went home so that she could forget painful memories of her ex.
It wasn’t that this so called break up came as a rude shock. For months we have been telling her that this is going to end where so many of her previous affairs did. But like in all others she continued. The boy just disappeared after stealing her money. And if I may say, a lot of money.
Parama is not only heartbroken, but her finances are also weak now. Otherwise, Parama is a smart woman. She did her B School from a top school and now heads the HR of her company.
It is not only Parama, I met Shona after a year. She had a similar story, and over the time I have realized that this is the story of so many women.
I have often wondered why so many smart women choose the wrong men. Men who cheat, lie, steal and break hearts.
Over the past 10 to 15 years the Indian economy has taken a drastic turn. Thanks to economic reforms. The women workforce has increased like never before. The money has come to women too, which was before mainly a man's prerogative.
Though the money, jobs and education came to table, the basic conditioning of women as a support system to a male has not changed.
Definitely we raised young girls to join the workforce, but they were still conditioned to be someone’s mother, daughter, wife and sister.
In India, no matter how well you are doing for yourself, you are still judged for your relationships. In the overall picture Indian women are still not taught to be an individual first.
In our five thousand years of civilization, our narratives of women are still confined to women who were someone’s wife or daughter. I often wonder, are all women married? If not, where are their narratives?
The problem begins when women are taught to be add on and not a full grown human being. Women and children are often clubbed together. And, most often the society wants to treat both the same, unless a man validates the woman as his relative.
In most part of India, a man’s word has much more weightage than a woman’s. Most of our narratives tell us how women lie. Just like the newest narrative “Sonam Gupta Bewafa hai?” or how in wars men died and women did nothing. These are supposed to be jokes. But they are a part of our narratives. And we forget that all narratives become a part of history and we start believing in it.
The voices in our narratives are men’s
Our history talks of men and their valor. We hardly know of many women who showed courage and immense resistance. Our history pages do not recognize them. Subconsciously, that becomes our story. That we are add ons. And we start living it.
Let us look at it from a part of rituals. We take up (most of the women) our husbands name. We are supposed to take pride to be a part of “HIS “family.” His lineage. His ancestors. It also means very subtly that a woman’s ancestors don’t matter. Her histories don’t matter. The moment she is married, she has to glorify another family. As if her own never mattered. These are subtle ways of telling woman, you don’t matter, your story does not matter unless you take up a man’s story.
Now that money is on the table, which is definitely a huge thing, we are yet to learn to be treated as equals. Patriarchy is an immensely smart business person. It tells us we are not enough, and we buy it standing on the front row.
We are told that there is a woman called “too much.”
She is too thin, too fat, too bossy, too demanding, too slutty and so on. So, from day one we try not to be too much. Unless we stop doing it, no matter how many economic reforms happen, we will repeat the patterns of seeing ourselves as halves to someone.
I am often asked, why even educated women continue to stay in abusive relationships. I always say, because that is what she knows, to be a part of a man, no matter how good or bad it is. The woman who suffers in silence is elevated. The woman who self asserts is the home breaker. The other woman. The slut. This is how intelligently patriarchy has sold itself.
But here is how a friend dealt with her breakup.
Bring in stories, where no one saves the Princesses, but she does it herself!
The idea right now, is to change the narratives. To bring in stories, where no one saves the Princesses, but she does it herself. The Prince is her friend where both wield the sword and both rest when they choose to. Where the Princesses talks, questions, falls and rise just like the prince’s and her victory too is noted in golden letters. There is no denying the fact that little girls become what they see and hear.
Let’s tell stories of empowerment, of happiness and choices that women are capable of making and also becoming that woman, our girls will learn a new pattern. A new story.