The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect South Asia Scene’s editorial policy.
Without feeding into preexisting damaging Western attitudes and stereotypes of domesticated South Asian women, there are some worrying mentalities surrounding marriage culture within this community. As an Asian girl growing up, how often are we told to hold off doing things we want to do after we get married? You can travel after you get married, you can can have your hobbies then, you can buy things, in some cases, you can study then, ultimately you can be free then.
This sets up an ideology that marriage will bring about freedom and independence (from your parents at least). In other words, you can do whatever you want, become your own person after marriage. But after marriage you’re expected to become other things, i.e wife, mother, daughter-in-law, at one point do you get to have this perceived freedom?
The same ideology is not reserved for men, which is why you often see Asian men getting married at an older age. As with lots of other cultures, men are given more freedom to live their lives, so usually settle down after having experimented, gotten things out of their system. For a lot of women, marriage, while is no walk in the park, promises freedoms and independence not previously offered. This becomes their time to live their lives. But it is measured against the biological clock and can be derailed by domestic duties and even motherhood.
What happens after marriage when your ideas of freedom conflict with the duties of marriage? With the promises of freedom to explore after marriage, what happens if your husband or even parents-in-law want you to put aside your own wishes and aspirations and take care of other responsibilities, say domestic ones? Thus, once again, our wishes can become secondary.
why wait for a husband, to show you the world?
But why wait for a husband at all, to show you the world, if you wish to travel with a male companion for whatever reason, why not travel with your father, your brother or an uncle, if means allow it? If anything, it will increase familial bonds.
It might be shocking to some to hear that certain cultures place limitations like this, with the promises that marriage will be answer to such problems, but similar concepts evidently exist in the West. Marriage is still measured as the pinnacle of a successful and happy woman (see article: https://faimabakar.wordpress.com/2015/12/09/should-we-start-having-babies-at-35-marriage-misogyny-and-hollywoods-flaws/ i.e the way Hollywood chases older unmarried FEMALE celebrities Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz through their careers). It’s not just Asian or Muslim cultures that propagate this mentality and thus put more pressure on marriage expectations.
This post is not anti-marriage nor does it argue that men have it easy as they can do everything before marriage. It recognises that men are also laden with responsibilities throughout their lives, as sons, husbands, fathers etc. Freedom can be a luxury that is afforded to very few. However, the freedom and independence that was promised to the girl who was told to do things after marriage can become the very antithesis of marriage as the wife may become dependent on the partner.
The notions are conflicting and can mean that a woman’s expectations of marriage are different to a man’s.
Ultimately it tells a woman that she should wait till she is rid from her parent’s responsibility to her husband’s to start living her life. And that in itself is problematic.
- Cover Photo Credits: www.dollsofindia.com
Faima is a young journalist who is constantly amused and bemused by social injustices which are often the themes explored in her articles, from issues like intersectional feminism, to race, religion, and travel. A proud Bangladeshi and occasional Manchester United fan.