7/25/07

marriage

I don’t see myself getting married. Not in the near future, at least. Okay, not in the remote future, also. Fine, make that never. I also don’t see myself having children of my own. Now I don’t hate kids. But I don’t particularly nurture a hidden spring well of fondness for them either. Anyway, I’ll save my precarious views on children and child-rearing for another post.

Speaking about my views on marriage on a public-ish domain, admittedly feels a little weird. But I wanted to get it out of my system, you know, like a regurgitation of sorts. I personally think that marriage is notably overestimated and that ‘til death do us part’ is a crafty, unattainable, socially constructed ideal, at best. There. The gauntlet has been dropped.


----Begin Caveat----

Before you jump down my throat and brand me a baby roasting spinster termagant, who dares befoul the holy sanctity of the institution of marriage, remember that these are my personal reasons for not wanting to get married. Mine, yeah, mine. This post is not a blameful finger pointed at those who are married or have kids. That is their choice, and if they are happy and content with their choice, it is not in my place to criticize them. So if any of you who are married or have kids plan to flame the living daylights out of me, remember that the snarky and caustic allusions I make about marriage in this post is in no way an attack on your decision. It is my observation on a socially sanctioned archetype which continues to oppress countless women even today, who are not, maybe, as happy or as lucky, as you are. It is about an often flawed but powerful, social and cultural institution which primarily eulogizes heteronormativity and presents it as the ideal. So ease up on them flame-throwers.

----End caveat----


Now, I will in no way deny that marriage is a legal, economic and dominant social institution, which provides a veritable treasure trove of rights, privileges and responsibilities and it is also a significant cultural symbol of sorts. I mean, why wouldn’t anybody want to marry? Surely, it is understandable that people would want to partake in it.

That is not to say that it is without terrific flaws. For all the progressive ideals we frame in our minds as to the division of labor, the surname, work etc. and all the rosy ‘everything will be shared equally between both of us’ type plans, it never really happens, does it? Consciously, or unconsciously we fall back into the age old trap of performing duties which comply with heavily gendered roles and power differentials laid out for us by cultural and societal norms and practices.

Which absolutely does not sit well with me, at all.

And this brings me to,

Reason number 1: Marriage is terribly male-friendly.

It is. Internalized gender role-ing will tell me otherwise, but after a long and hard struggle with my inner demons, I’ve come to realize that marriage does in fact, overwhelmingly favor the guy. On the outset, it seems like we have entered into an age of elysian gender equality within marriage where men and women discuss equal sharing of duties and suchlike and stick to their plans, but that hardly is the case. Once things start sliding into gendered role and power differentials typifying the ‘traditional’ marriage, we tell ourselves that marriage is work, we tell ourselves to be realistic, we fit our brains around that power differential which heavily favors the male, and we settle.

Reason number 2: It is up to the women to make that choice to stay in the workforce or not.

Take childbirth, for instance. Irrespective of the job a woman is in, if there is a question of one spouse leaving his/her respective job to care for the child, most of the damn time, it is the woman who leaves her job. Childbirth just happens to be an extreme example. Take any circumstance which requires one spouse to leave her/his job. To no one’s surprise, it is the woman who usually forgoes her job. Now I do know that most women will say that it is their choice. But we have to look at the cultural relativism and the gendered power equations behind that choice, because most women will simply respond to an internalized gendering of power in such situations and call it their choice.

And yes, you can show me examples of stay-at-home dads’ who opt out of the workforce to take care of their kids. But the percentage of men who do actually opt out are abysmally low, no thanks to the power differential yet again, and the levels of ridicule such men face generally and in terms of them being called ‘henpecked’, ‘pussy whipped’ ‘husband to a ball-buster’ and so on, mostly by other men, extended family and even women, in some cases.

Your spouse may be different of course, but remember, this is not.about.you.

Reason number 3: The ‘wife and mother’ ideal.

Let me state on the outset that I have nothing against women who are good wives and mothers. I do have a problem however with the enormous pressure being ladled upon women, generation after generation to be the perfect wife and the mother, where both require a great deal of subservience on part of the woman, by societal and cultural standards.

A married woman is principally judged by how well she balances and performs her wifely and motherly duties, and there is little or no scope for anything related to her individuality. While in severe contrast, a married man is not judged by how he services his wife, but how best he establishes his individual hegemony in his household. Popular models of femininity, compliance and sexuality are built upon this unattainable ‘wife and mother’ ideal, over and over again and shoved down every women’s’ throats, lest they defy the norm and dare to act contrarily.

And I can’t take it anymore.

Reason number 4: The ol’ ball and chain.

Why is marriage supposedly the centre of a woman’s existence? Why isn’t it the centre of a man’s existence? But no, it never is. The wedding is always and forever will be a ‘bride’ thing, because it’s her day, a day when she gets to be the princess, a concept which I find, extremely problematic partly cause' all that the guy is expected to do, is show up. Because you see, when a guy is engaged to be married, he is perceived to have somehow lost his freedom, that the life ahead of him is sure to be filled with drudgery and venal boredom in anticipation of you know, being tied down to the ol’ ball and chain.

And then there is the pukeworthy sleaziness of the bachelor party. Spending the rest of my life with a person who desperately celebrates his last day as a free man by entertaining himself with contorting naked women, paints a rosy picture in my mind as to how our near-ambrosial future would be.

Right.

So as of now, I’m holding on to my get-out-of-marriage free card. I have nothing against loving monogamous relationships, but I am yet to see the necessity of going through a socially sanctioned practice to validate a loving relationship or to partake in a practice, which to me signifies nothing but a glorified social justification of that relationship.


Post Script: These are only a few of my reasons for shunning the ol' ball and chain, whoops I meant marriage. Not all. Not even close.

Update: Because mothers are inherently evil if they leave their kids locked in hot cars, but fathers, well they're just glorified baby sitters, so they abso-fucking-lutely don't deserve the harshness of the punishment meted out to mothers, even if they commit the same act.

So excuse me while I take a minute to scream.

(via Feministe)


Update II: the 42nd carnival of feminists is up and this post is in it (whoever you are submitter, thank you!)

So what are you waiting for? Run along now, go check the carnival out!

106 comments:

anantha said...

Been a silent reader for long and would probably go back into that woodwork after this instance, but before that, I have to say this.

I can't disagree with any of your reasons, well almost all of them. But "bachelor's party"? Where did that one come from. I think that one trivial line of reason does take away all credibility from this post (at least in my eyes).

Of course, if that last reason was meant to be a joke, then it went over my head.

Cheers. I will go back into the woodwork as promised. Nice posts, btw. Do keep writing.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Anantha: Hello! And yep, that bachelor party reference was meant to be pseud-serious and a little snarky and trivial-ish, nothing more nothing less. I guess it didnt work huh? :)

anantha said...

Not for me. But then the people I know tell me that I am too simple for my own good. So, don't mind me at all.

apu said...

theoretically, every one of your reasons is absolutely right. the imabalance of power has not yet been fully corrected. here's the catch - i dont think "informal" marriages i.e. steady relationships without a formal name to them, necessarily correct that. so then your choice is also to completely give up on any lovelife. fair enough, if thats what you choose, though i think there are benefits that overweigh the risks, and secondly, the risks can also be negotiated, with the right person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Megha, I've been reading your blog for a while and I love it. And I agree with most of your views in this post but I wasnt very convinced with this:

"we have to look at the cultural relativism and the gendered power equations behind that choice, because most women will simply respond to an internalized gendering of power in such situations and call it their choice"

I don't think most women choose their children over career because of, as you put it "Internalised gendering of power". I think its more to do with enjoying that time spent in their care. Its what you call motherly instict, which is as basic as wanting sex. So the whole question of an educated career woman being compelled/forced to stay home after having childred is a tad far fetched.

-Tara

jax said...

Megha, what if you meet someone who is hotdamnedawesome to be with?

??! said...

actually, the bachelor party comment was quite apt. what does it show really - that since he's going to be stuck with you, he better make sure he gets one last grope?
however, minor disagreements on points 2 and 3:
the number of 'stay-at-home' dads may be small, but surely they're growing (say compared to 1880)? which means society is evolving, albeit slowly, towards a more gender-equal one.
also, don't men also have to put up with the ideal father/husband role - work hard, earn lots, play catch with the kids, etc?

shark said...

Though all you have said is 100% true.. there is a bright side to marriage also.

Ah! I know my points will never change your opinion.. but just trying to show the other side of the coin.

(all my point are of course in the case of a "happy" marriage)

1. It's a beautiful feeling when you know that somebody is waiting for you at home, somebody values your presence at home.

2. Not all husbands/men are blokes . Some really come in a nice package, they care and share too :)

3. There is a sense of security that you can go back to one person come rain or shine (lets face it, how long will our parents live? we loose touch with our closest of close friends). This feeling is specially strong when you get older and lonelier. Everybody will move on with their lives ...

4. The "possessiveness" (to a limited extent of course) you can exercise on one person is a great feeling :)

Ok enough of my Bhaashan.. I do sound like a granny ;-)

deviousdiva said...

I am also a lurker but just wanted to say that although I am married (civil wedding), I agree with your reasons for not doing so. I got married because it was an excuse to get the family and friends together for a celebration of our relationship. Sounds crazy but I live 3000 miles away from them. The marriage certificate is just a piece of paper but my relationship of 13 years now is what counts. We would be together with or without the wedding.

Anurag said...

Well, I am married and all, but I agree with you completely. People will keep getting married, and for some of us it will work out very well, but I don't think it is an arrangement in tune with the times. What most people are looking for in a marriage are companionship, regular sex, love, kids and a feeling of having someone of your own to share things with. These days, all these things can be had with a live-in relationship, which is more or less acceptable in any big city these days, which is where I want to live anyway. Furthermore, I am not the type of person who cares about people's opinions anyway, so I would be comfortable with a live-in arrangement, maybe even casual flings.

Hmmmmmmmm, why did I get married again? :)

Drunken Master said...

@Anantha,
Punk's just pissed I was at a Bachelor Party and therefore strip club, yet cannot believe I didn't get a lap dance (of course, the party wasn't for me).

And she's never bothered to find out all the shite that happens at a bachelorette party...

--- tongue in cheek ---
But honestly Punk, it's obvious you just cannot swallow your pride and realize your true calling. I bet your decided to go to grad school to get an advanced degree so you could land yourself a "nice man", only to have your idea of the nice man shattered.

He should not have seen any other naked women, in fact he should be a virgin and please you the way you want in bed.

He should breast feed the baby so you can go to work.

He actually cares about the wedding ceremony so much, he picked a gold suit to match her dress...
--- end tongue in cheek ---

Okay, back to being serious, I'm not sure how many couples you've seen, because from all that I see and have been part of, this post sounds like it's based on hearsay and ideals as outdated as the Ambassador car.

I say that because I seen a bunch of (Indian) couples in recent years, some who've had kids, where the hubby puts in as much effort with the kids as the wife. He works from home 4 days a week so he can take time out to help his wife out and be a truly good father to his kids.

My cousin who's getting married next week joins his fiancee for "bhangra workouts" and "bootcamp" while see goes with him for 70K bike rides. They do their own things as well and they have a ball, together and separate. He even fasted with her for a week during Ramadan just to see what she felt.

Sure there's the wife and mother ideal, but do you honestly care what some dinosaurs think? Anyone with an ounce of sense in them would know it's hard and offer their help. I can't remember how many times I've babysat and cooked for people.

Also, just because you get married, doesn't mean you have to have kids.

The point is this - it makes sense to get married to someone who complements you and who knows exactly he/she is getting into when they sign that contract (and that includes family). Again, this is only if you really want to.

Maybe I'm part of a different culture. And finally - Tradition? Tradition is what it used to be.

Rimi said...

There IS one more reason. That I'm a bit of a commitment phobe and shudder at the thought of letting someone into my own *insert frantic hand movements* private space (read: sanctuary). Let's not delve into the reasons why I feel the need for private space so deeply. Suffice to say that I find the idea of sharing my space with someone else (who's not my parents) extremely discomfiting.

Now, try getting that passed as a valid reason to remain single beyond 25 by a board of auntyuncle, grannygrandad and neighbour-sheybour.

Rohini said...

Hmmm.. you know wht, I agree with every word you say and it pretty much describes my life but overall, no regrets.

Think you might have inspired a new post...

the mad momma said...

it's a little sad that we have to start our posts with caveats... i have to do it all the time.. adn it takes the fun out of a post.. you've not even begun and you have to first think of protecting yourself.

i agree fully with this post.. and i am one of those wife and mother of two children kind of ppl that you dont want to be.

anyone who brnds you as baby roasting is an idiot. i think ppl are unable to see apoint of view without seeing it as an extreme, and they also end up missing all our attempts at humour... (do you think we fail at sarcasm?!)

in fact i think i will go against what you say and ask - why should anybody want to marry? if i could have had my husband and two kids in my life peacefully wihtout marriage... i would have done that too. i hate having to get society's stamp of approval - yet, since i want peace for my amazing parents and my lovely babies.. i chose to go ahead with it. living in was suiting us fine!

all your reasons are 100% bang on. i have nothing to add but to say that the only reason one would get into this 'institution' is if you are nuts abt the person, you feel its a long lasting relatoinship even if you cant guarantee a golden anniv... and you realise that many ppl you love will be hurt by your refusal to make it legal. those were my reasons...

stay cool and lets both try to write psts without disclaimers.. i find it irritating to do on my own frickin blog...

Vincent said...

I see you've mentioned that these are your personal reasons but I just want to ask you not to extrapolate from a limited sample that includes extremely misogynist/stupid/chauvinist/henpecked men.

It is my observation on a socially sanctioned archetype which continues to oppress countless men and women even today, who are not, maybe, as happy or as lucky, as you are.
That sounds about right.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Anantha: Oh pshaw, it was nothing. Now come out of the woodwork, I'll be nice, I promise.

@ Apu: Well, yes. I never mentioned that the pitfalls of the power disparity can haunt couples who aren't married also. But the way I see it, due to the not-married status there might be more room for negotiation, instead of flaccidly compromising (in the case of marriage), no?

@ Tara: Thank you! Motherly instinct it may be, but why don't most fathers leave their careers going by the same parenting instinct? Surely a father should have the same instinct as the mother because he is also a parent after all! Just because he didn't go through pregnancy, it doesn't really justify him not having or not supposed to be having the same instinct or feelings a mother has.

@ Jax: Hee! I'll be with him! I dont need to marry him, do I? :)

@ ??!: Yes they do, but thats also part of the problem innit'?

@ Shark: Hey if it work for you, then who am I to say anything. I'm only saying that I'm not sure its for me. :)

@ Deviousdiva: Hello and I lurk your blog too! Hey I'm with you 100%. You gotta do what you gotta do, you know? Speaking of which, I don't know if my family would expect me to get married, my immediate family seems ok with my decision, but its the extended family which poses a problem. Sigh.

@ Anurag: Why did you get married? Are you sure you want your wife to see that? ;)

@ Drunken: Unfortunately, its not 'some dinosaurs' its most of society. Just because you've been lucky enough to see people who have actually put in equal effort, that doesn't mean that that is the norm all over the world. Gendered power differentials are very insidious. I'm surprised you think that its all but disappeared.

@ Rimi: Oh I know what you mean. And pssst I'm a rabid commitment-phobe too. But try telling that to the dreaded watchdogs of all things 'cultural' i.e. the extended family. Gulp.

@ Rohini: Ohh thank you! And really? I have? Post soon, then!

@ The Mad Momma: I KNOW! I hate caveats. HATE them. But I felt that I could deal with a little less unnecessary flaming this time around, so I grudgingly added one to this post. And I totally understand your decision to marry. God knows, I might have to cave in at some point of time, you know? Only time will tell. And thanks for the support, it really does mean a lot.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Vince: It is very easy for us to fall for a vision of supposed equality or be convinced that power disparities due to gender don't exist because the people around us are in seemingly egalitarian marriages. The same goes for extremely bad marriages as well. I tried to not take both extremes into consideration, while writing this post. :)

La vida Loca said...

I agree with Shark above. Took the words outta my keyboard. :)

Nath said...

the wannabe indian punkster:
Surely a father should have the same instinct as the mother because he is also a parent after all! Just because he didn't go through pregnancy, it doesn't really justify him not having or not supposed to be having the same instinct or feelings a mother has.

I'm not so sure. Biologically, I think it would be more important for mothers to have a stronger 'parent' instinct than fathers, particularly in the year or so following a birth. This is because infants depend on their mothers for sustenance. Besides, a child birth has a much greater physiological effect on the mother. It's a bigger investment, so to speak. If a female loses a child, she loses a couple of years which could have been used to reproduce and preserve her genes. If a male loses a child, it has a smaller effect on his odds of passing on his genes.

Evolutionary biologists call this Bateman's principle. It isn't unique to humans, but probably isn't universal.

Disclaimer: I am not an evolutionary biologist.

Anurag said...

Punkster: You are right. If my wife sees my previous comment, I am in deep trouble. Also, jogging my memory a little makes me realize that she was the reason I got married. :) I chased her all over the world till she gave in. :)

Gambit said...

What time a to read this post. I'm getting married in 5 months, yukk yukk. Definitely an interesting perspective, but a perspective nonetheless. For what it's worth, I'm super fired up about my marriage and cant wait for it to happen. Lovely post though!! :P

the mad momma said...

tamil punkster: well i am not qualified to answer your question to Tara but i will go with my gut. growing something inside your stomach is very different to giving half a teaspoon of sperm :p

i dont think fathers love any less, but like all gender differences i feel its different. men express their love for women very differently from the way we do ours for them.. dont we always have those silly gender wars about women wanting roses and men wanting to be told what women want?

i'd use the same logic here. also that if you spend 6 months of maternity leave over and above the 9 months of pregnancy, your relationship is very different from the one the father shares. to put it even more grossly for those who dont have kids - its like a pet dog :D the one who takes it for a walk and gives it meals is more likely to be close to it than the one who might have brought it home but doesnt spend as much time.. right?

Sudha said...

hmmm... you know what? I think it all depends on the 2 ppl who decide to get married. or stay in a relationship even. imagine if you found a male version of YOU. A guy who understands and respects you as an individual (and the virtual opposite of the sleep-around-with-white-women-but-go-back-to-India-to-find-a-simple-desi-girl-to-marry type; who coincidentally would indulge in the bachelor party revelry u mentioned!). wudn't marriage be easier and more agreeable with your terms with that person?

the way i see it all the reasons you mentioned would actually have more to do with the partner than with society, really.

again, this is all rhetorical, since we r discussing marriage. I do not subscribe to the marriage is essential school of thought myself.

My significant other is coming half way across the globe becoz I want to go there and HE wants to be with me. So I'd like to believe that thinking men aren't that uncommon in today's world.

Something to Say said...

Came here thru a link that Mad momma put on her post. Reading your blog took me back 8 years in time - when I felt pretty much the same way about marriage. But then I met a guy, and then did all the things I said I wouldnt do. Fell into roles and then excelled in them. And your post got me thinking about how and why I have changed so much that now I am quite comfortable with my self (and I am a nasty conscience picker).
I guess the answer is the fact that as one moves on in life - what is important to you changes - and then you change too. And then you dont care - if you are being stereotypical or otherwise - as long as you do what gives you happiness and that it means something to you.
Then of course this is just.about.me :)
Be strong, be firm, but dont be afraid to change - sometimes it brings the most unexpected surprises.

Drunken Master said...

I know it hasn't all disappeared or is even close to going away, but there's only so much one can bother about other people's opinions. If a couple has to go through a power struggle, they either misrepresented their positions before they got together or didn't figure out their partner enough before getting into the relationship. Either way, it would be based on lies, which is never good.

You're certainly entitled making a decision and honestly I don't think you really need to explain to anyone or even have to rationalize it, but since you have and seem to use it as a be all and end all, I don't agree at all with your argument.

Sue said...

It's your choice, of course, and I think living in has its points. But I do think the situation is changing, however slowly. You know why? All these points where the husband and wife are judged on biased bases? The outsiders who judge are slowly becoming less important than the spouses themselves. I mean, what our families have to say about V because he helps around the house and is helping to bring up baby is less important to both of us than what I have to say about it, as a partner in both enterprises.

This shift is, I believe, a strong enough foundation to make things less gender biased for the next generation.

Who will probably live in. Hey, it saves me the expense of a wedding!

Sue said...

Oh and about the parenting instinct -- speaking as the partner of a man who has it strongly -- it differs. I don't think it is social conditioning as much as it biological. Men love, and protect. Women love and nurture. By and large, not every single man and woman, of course. I was forced to accept that when I saw, despite V and me doing the same things for our son everyday, he comes to me for cuddling and to his dad for playing. Although I play with him a lot and V cuddles him all the time, he still decides these gender roles for us.

Kannaiyan said...

Your words are nice. Please devote the whole of your life to INDIA. INDIA needs more of the woman like you to serve to the public.

I appreciate your thoughts. Keep it up and Enjoy. After all I have seen INDIA is the only country you can feel free in the way you like, no one can deny that.

Sudha said...

another thought - u say u r okay with being in a loving monogamous relationship.
At some stage wudn't that involve wanting to live together? how is that different from marriage? barring societal judgement (which i am surprised that u of all ppl r taking into account, in the first place!)

Anonymous said...

but i want to get married:-)...

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a person who's been married two years, I will readily grant you every single thing you've said in your post.

But none of those lead me to conclude marriage is undesirable on the whole. Perhaps I am rationalising or being defensive about my choices? But I don't think so, I do have good reasons.

The fact remains, Punkster, that people don't get married to ensure they remain fulfilled individuals in their own right. Marriage is for people who put companionship at the top of their list of priorities - at whatever time in your life you do that, you're ready for marriage. As Bridget Jones (please, no, I don't consider her an example in any way) put it, it's about the fear of being eaten by alsatians in your flat, and nobody finding out for days.

Friends, no matter how close, are only temporarily dependable in this respect. If you want to be sure you will NEVER, EVER go a single day without being found after the alsatian-chewing episode, marriage is your best bet.

This means you stay together at the expense of your individual self-actualisation. And if it's always the women who end up making the adjustments (yes, it's true) then that's something to be fixed, that's all.

(I've got some pretty good ideas on how to fix things, starting with paying women to have and raise babies (compensation should be the same as what they were making at their jobs), okay, because what we do today is what puts food on your table come pension-time - don't give me that bullshit about it being "my choice" to have a baby instead of putting my job first like a good career girl, because if we all did that you'd starve once you hit 65. But that is a whole 'nother rant.)

The sparks and love and fireworks and sex and devotion are, at the end of the day, perks. They don't last forever. But being bonded 'til death do you part - regardless of whether you're as ready to jump your partner's bones on your 60th anniversary as on your wedding day - is the real deal.

- Wendelin

PS: still waiting for the promised response to my comment on your previous post.. :)

Anonymous said...

@Kannaiyan: what tripe. I have never felt more stifled than when I am in India. Married women, especially, are treated worse than pets. Don't you go trumpeting about freedom of expression there - what is constitutional is miles away from social practice. When was the last time you saw a married woman in India feel free to wear a bikini at the beach? When was the last time you saw ANY woman in India feel free enough to do that?

-Wendelin

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ La vida loca: Just like I told shark above, I don’t refute her statements. Hey, if it works for her it works for her. I don’t think it’ll work for me, that’s all. :)

@ Nath: Yikes, I should have rephrased my reply. I am in no way denying the fact that mothers will have a stronger parenting instinct than fathers, at least initially. But that doesn’t mean that men cannot be primary caregivers, after the initial few months or so, does it? It does not absolve them of any sort of nurturing or caregiving does it? Stay at home dads are not nearly as common as stay at home moms, but that is primarily because of the enforcement of traditional gender roles, yet again, no? Mostly, social and cultural disapproval and economic inequality or restraints (in some cases) puts caregiving out of reach for many men. My point is simple. I think that men are easily capable of being primary caregivers, and it wouldn’t hurt for them to be much more involved in their children’s lives from the very beginning. There are men who are primary caregivers out there, and their numbers are increasing. Obviously when compared to the women, their numbers are painfully low, but they definitely exist to show that it can be done.

@ Anurag: Ha ha, I thought as much. You chased her did you? That’s actually cute, in a stalkerish sort of way!

(I’m kidding, of course)

I think this calls for an ‘aww’.

So aww. :)

@ Gambit: Thank you! And congrats! It nice to see that you are happy and psyched to get married!

@ Mad momma: As I said to Nath, I think we absolve men of their responsibilities as caregivers. Too often, men think that providing=nurturing and yes providing is important but that does not equal nurturing or caring. I honestly don’t think that men cannot be caregivers. I’ve seen men who are and they’re damn good at it too, it’s all a matter of turning traditional gender roles onto its head really. :D

And before I forget, I really liked the clarity in your post.

@ Sudha: Like I said, these are the reasons which make the idea of marriage uncomfortable for me. I honestly don’t think that I need to get married to showcase my monogamous relationship; I just don’t see the necessity! As for the other reasons I’ve mentioned, they have everything to do with the way I feel about the institution of marriage, and what is the institution of marriage without the relationship between the people who are married or getting married? Really?

@ Something to say: Hello! And yes, I never said I was opposed to change. But this is how I feel as of now. Maybe, I’ll have to cave in to familial and societal pressure, some time in the future. Who knows. :)

@ Drunken: I’m not using it as a be all and end all. I really don’t know where you got that idea from. If somebody leaves a comment, I answer! That’s not going out of my way to rationalize! Anyway, I clearly mentioned in my post that these were my reasons, not me bothering about anybodys opinion! If I really bothered about anyone’s opinion, would I be opposed to marriage? Wouldn’t I be gung-ho about getting married and caving in? Tsk.

@ Sue: See, that’s where I have a problem. My mum always went to her dad (my granddad) to be nurtured and cuddled and he was the primary nurturer/caregiver in her family. So I’m very inclined to believe that conditioning matters a lot, although I cannot refute your son’s advances towards you. Maybe you’re just cuter. :P

@ Kanniyan: Say what now? What a load of crap? What are you on, anyway?

@ Sudha: Oh my god, where did I say that I cared about societal judgment? If I cared about societal judgment, would I be declaring openly that I will not get married? Shouldn’t I be working around the clock to get hitched instead?

@ Wendelin: But, even if I put companionship at the top of my priority list, why do I need to go through a marriage? I can’t help but question the inevitability of the act of marriage or getting married.

Broom said...

Amen!


Having been there and done that, I can wholeheartedly agree.

Nath said...

the wannabe indian punkster:
But that doesn’t mean that men cannot be primary caregivers, after the initial few months or so, does it?

True. However, the biological basis of the difference between the two parents' relationships with children may not be limited to the first few months. It may be a factor for the rest of their lives.

It does not absolve them of any sort of nurturing or caregiving does it?

I wasn't implying that it does.

Stay at home dads are not nearly as common as stay at home moms, but that is primarily because of the enforcement of traditional gender roles, yet again, no?

Ah. How do you know that? It seems very likely that traditional gender roles are one reason for the asymmetry, but how do you know it's the primary reason? Biology almost certainly plays a part in this as well. Male chimpanzees, for instance, are believed to have no connection at all with their offspring (apart from, you know, the genetic one). It is even possible (though I think unlikely) that the father's existing role in raising children is an artificial invention.

I think that men are easily capable of being primary caregivers, and it wouldn’t hurt for them to be much more involved in their children’s lives from the very beginning.

Sure, this is reasonable. Males may or may not instinctively be as good as women at being caretakers, but this is something that can probably be learned. Human beings are versatile creatures after all.

anonymouse said...

The marriage contract isn't for the relationship, it's for what happens when you break up.

zypsy said...

ok, let's take this one by one.

1. marriage is not about division of labor, the surname, work, and all the rosy 'everything will be shared equally between both of us.' don't take it too seriously or get biased by what you see in your own circle. just take marriage as the best friendship with the "sex" part thrown in.

2. how many wives earn more than their husbands? common sense will tell anyone that it's better for the women to quit as the men earn a lot more. i and lots of men will be very happy to quit if our women can earn enough for both of us and any other dependents. and forget the maternal instinct as mentioned by a reader, who's the one physically worn out after giving birth? oh yes, if my company gives a 3-month PATERNITY leave, i will be happy to stay at home:-)

3. very true if you consider the past, some decades back. but now? you must be kidding. do you think we don't face unbearable pressure to excel in our jobs, earn more, get that promotion, and at the same time, be a perfect husband and father?

4. if the women take marriage as their centers of existence, it's upto them to change their attitude.

about the bachelor party, let me tell you something. i have done a lot of things - good, bad and sometimes, downright dirty or evil, and i'm telling you, a bachelor party (in INDIA???) is a one in a million stuff, and most of the times it's a pretty harmless thing. men just overhype it for the macho/bad boy image and women fall for it.

Post Script: Bring up some other good reasons:-)))

Drunken Master said...

I meant that the reasons you put down in your post can be easily argued against, but it ends up being circular. Your decision is perfectly valid, even if the reason was that you like whole wheat bread instead of white. Again, I think your post probably doesn't convey your reasoning well enough.

As far as opinion is concerned, your line replying to deviousdiva got me onto the thought: "...but its the extended family which poses a problem. Sigh." It's not that you care about others' opinions, but maybe others' opinions of you. We all care about what most family members think, but a line has to be drawn somewhere when it comes to issues they will never understand.

Oh and maybe rationalize wasn't quite the right word.

Wendelin said...

What's marriage if not a formal name for the vow to stay together forever (i.e. live together, find one another's body the very same evening if said other has, in fact, been eaten by alsatians)?

Society's expectations burden marriages with a whole load of other baggage (kids, love, excitement, an SUV, the house in the suburbs where you host garden parties every spring and fall, summers in the Hamptons, yadda yadda yadda), but that doesn't change the heart of it. It's just basically companionship for life.

Anonymous said...

you going retro on us, punk? i feel like i'm in the 70s.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Broom: Thank you so much! It does mean a lot.

@ Nath: Hmm, I do not disagree with what you say. But my point is simple. When two people have come together in a family unit to make a life for themselves, I think both of them should be equally responsible towards providing a caring and nurturing environment for their offspring. And if it is being competently done, albeit moderately (in the case of men being the primary caregivers), then we should move towards that ideal, no? Human beings are versatile after all. :)

@ A’mouse: Amen. Hee.

@ Zypzy:
1. marriage is not about division of labor, the surname, work, and all the rosy 'everything will be shared equally between both of us.' don't take it too seriously or get biased by what you see in your own circle. just take marriage as the best friendship with the "sex" part thrown in.


I never said that’s what marriage was all about. As to your ‘best friendship’ statement, how many marriages are like that? Maybe your marriage or the marriages around yours are seemingly equal, but the majority of marriages aren’t. Also, you fail to understand that I don’t really fear marriage at all, I just don’t see why it is necessary.

2. how many wives earn more than their husbands? common sense will tell anyone that it's better for the women to quit as the men earn a lot more. i and lots of men will be very happy to quit if our women can earn enough for both of us and any other dependents. and forget the maternal instinct as mentioned by a reader, who's the one physically worn out after giving birth? oh yes, if my company gives a 3-month PATERNITY leave, i will be happy to stay at home:-)

I never said anything about maternity leaves or paternity leave. Of course the mother will be physically worn out after giving birth and nobody here is disputing that or the necessity of maternity holidays. As to your statement about women earning more than men, have you stopped and thought about why they don’t earn more than men? And finally, you may be willing to leave your job if your partner earns more than you, but that is absolutely not the case in the majority of men.

very true if you consider the past, some decades back. but now? you must be kidding. do you think we don't face unbearable pressure to excel in our jobs, earn more, get that promotion, and at the same time, be a perfect husband and father?

Oh really? Say a woman is fantastically successful in her job. Nobody formulates her identity based on that. But god forbid something untoward happens to her kid, the whole world will point a finger at her and brand her an unfit mother and she will only be referred to as an unfit mother, the fact that she is successful in her professional life immediately becomes non-existent.

4. if the women take marriage as their centers of existence, it's upto them to change their attitude.

And by your own brand of logic, that is exactly what I’m doing. But a society (comprised of men and women! Go figure!) which stockpiles and feeds and conditions such women to think that their lives center around marriage, should not be examined at all right?


about the bachelor party, let me tell you something. i have done a lot of things - good, bad and sometimes, downright dirty or evil, and i'm telling you, a bachelor party (in INDIA???) is a one in a million stuff, and most of the times it's a pretty harmless thing. men just overhype it for the macho/bad boy image and women fall for it.


I don’t live in India. And pray tell me what you mean by harmless?

And as for your post script, it is up to you if you want to take my reasons or not. If you don’t then I cannot do anything about that.

@ Drunken: That ‘extended’ family’ statement can mean several different things. How can you take that one, slightly vague statement and instantaneously come to the conclusion that I care about what other people think about me? Isn’t that a tad superfluous? :)

@ Wendelin: I like Alsatians! How unfair. I demand you retract that ‘Alsatian’ statement. Hmpf.
;)

mumbaigirl said...

Very well written, would love to know all your reasons!

Darwin's mistress said...

We seem to do this nature/nurture thing selectively based on convenience.I am talking about the argument that women have more parenting instincts. By the same token one can ask if human beings as are most mammals nature polygamous.Several books have been written on the subject including The Myth of monogamy etc.Based on the animal kingdom, evolution, we know that a commitment to a partner and mating permanence is the result of social conditioning and not purely an inherited trait. So Why is the naturalness of that not being questioned?.So if in certain things we accept social conditioning why not in other things.

As far as I have observed mothers have more of a role to play in child care between ages 0-1 purely because of biological design.After that it is social conditioning.We tend to think of father as doing baby sitting while a mother as fulfilling some kind of a divine purpose of life.This overglorification of motherhood is certainly true.

That said marriage is an instrument of social convenience invented by human beings for the sake of a semblance of order nothing more nothing less.

Silvara said...

Heya :)

Loved this post. I left commenting here because it took me a while to actually form a response that I could stick to...and then I wrote a post on it instead :P

I was really taken aback by it since marriage is something that I will be going through in a matter of a few months and all of a sudden the reasons that I thought why I was doing it just seemed to fade before my eyes...

BUT, it also made me find the other reasons and my own thoughts on what I believe marriage will be - not perfect and probably unnecessary. I agree with you there totally about marriage in general and I know that these issues and more will come up, but it is then up to me and my husband to make those choices that will be the best for us alone and us together.

WishfulThinker said...

I see that this blog hasn't lost any of its steam in my absence! :) Only want to say that marriage or no marriage, I still believe (although I get that terrible sinking feeling that I belong to a fastly shrinking minority!) that two people can actually be together happily till death do them apart. Social convention, mass acceptance, familial obligations be damned.

annie said...

Gyrated here thru Silvara's post..Wooh! a killer post..nice slap on da face n yeah they some men deserve it! i outrightly agree on the stip party tingie..it's loathsome..how can nyone derive pleasure outta it..i still wonder!& that too when this takes a step further....some men really have no standards..cheapos to da core!

silbil said...

are you sure that the reasons 1 to 7 aren't that ranvir hasn't asked you yet and being the good culture, docile girl that you are , you CANNOT make the first move but only give coy hints through intel sounding blog posts.
see i caught you!
:)

I said...

I hope you are young enough to justify this immaturity.

The Stig said...

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/personal/07/30/how.to.man/index.html

Jesus wept. Hell in a hand cart, etc etc.

And before y'all start, that's on cnn from oprah.com.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Mumbaigirl: Gosh thanks! I think I'll probably add a follow up post to this one.

@ Darwin's mistress: *Applauds*

Speaking of polygamy, I think you've given me an idea for a future post.

@ Silvara: As I already told you on your blog, I loved your balanced take on my post. For me, as long as two people are happy and content with their decision, be it marriage or the lack thereof, it is not in my place to criticize. I am just not sure I am cut out for it. :)

@ Wishful: Onnoda blogger handle a patha odaney-yai ennakku purinjiruthu. You don't need to explain, you hopelessly romantic idealist you. :P

@ Annie: Hello and thanks!

@ Silbil: Drat! You saw through my seemingly foolproof plan! I am occluded with nauseating feelings of unrequited love for the real man ranvir. I miss him. Gee I wonder why he hasn't chest-thumpingly established his manly presence in this post. Sigh, I can only dream. :(

@ The Stig: Oprah is the devil spawn of the patriarchy. And the people who write for her magazine are but her minions. But to be fair, I have to delegate a large portion of the blame for the article on the misogynist (and I should say anti-male as well) turd who wrote that trash.

middlebrow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue said...

You're tagged now, even if you weren't to start with!

:)

Have fun.

Gambit said...

Gee thanks for the warm wishes Punkster. I'm not sure but I think the 'Psyched' has a negative or freaked out connotation to it, so we'll just settle for Ecstatic!! :) Keep those posts coming, it's really a fascinating.

zypsy said...

got a "time out" error when i tried to submit the first time. am trying again...

i'm still a bachelor.

i mentioned paternity/maternity leaves just to say that we should take into account a lot of things.

i've friends all over india, and almost all of them are married. some of their wives work, some continue to work after having kids, and some don't. and all these women never faced any pressure to work or quit. they all made their choices and are happy with whatever roles they have taken up.

even the idea of work-life balance and how tough it is for the women, has taken a very different meaning these days. be it cooking, taking care of babies, cleaning the house, groceries...a lot of the men in the marriages i have known and seen, do all these things too.

the concept of bachelor parties is still new/foreign in india. like every copied idea, it's quite overhyped here. people imagine all these lap dancers, strippers and many other things, but in reality, it's a night for heavy drinking with the male buddies. and that's what i meant by harmless.

i agree, these are your opinions and i can't do anything about them. but i just found them a bit biased, like you have just seen a handful of marriages. or maybe, it all boils down to the fact that you and i choose to see the different sides of marriage. and in that case, my opinions will sound very biased to you:-)

Almost Famous said...

IMHO marriage is business deal for the propagation of the species.

Anonymous said...

Reg ur update :

frm the article : Mothers were jailed 59 percent of the time, compared to 47 percent for fathers. And the median sentence was three years for dads, but five for moms.

Do u or da person who wrote it know if da cases have similar circumstances etc, other than da child being dead? Statistics can be twisted and can be made to look something good/bad etc. Not sayin there is a bias, but if there is, dat is a lawsuit waitin to happen. So, before crying out dat there is a bias, ensure dat da author of the article is reputable etc.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Sue: I walked into it. Dammit. ;)

@ Gambit: Thank you! And psyched sounds decent enough, no?

@ Zypsy: I am surprised you found them biased. Its funny you think that I have somehow been surrounded by failed marriages or the like when actually the opposite is true. It is very hard for people like you or me to look beyond our invisible shields of privilege and take in an institution such as marriage. But oh well, this is my opinion as that is yours and you are welcome to it, all the same. :)

@ Anonymous (are you Anonymouse? If you aren't, I'm sorry for my lapse in judgment): Rofl! I am inclined to agree, for the most part.

@ Anonymous: That is because the statistics and the article is only about one particular issue, which is leaving a child in a hot car. I don't know about other unforeseen 'circumstances' which you talk about, but to me the offense (which is again, leaving a child in a hot car) is pretty straightforward. Pray tell me what are these dubious 'circumstances' which you are talking about? I am not talking about anybody being let off easily, my main beef is with the fact that irrespective of what parent is responsible for the negligence, they should be penalized equally. It is as simple as that.

anonymouse said...

No, my only comment was about the contract being for when things go wrong.

LiFeBoAt said...

what is going on here? look, just because some guy left you and you are deparate, why do you write a post about why you dont want to get married at all? you want me to believe your rubbish? it is a fact of nature that weddings are what women want so they can trap men. this is just biology. now you can get shrill and scream at me or send your fans on me, but u cant change the truth. who left you, why are u desperate?

The Stig said...

And we have a winner for "brilliantly written comment that makes absolutely no sense" award of the month.

"it is a fact of nature that weddings are what women want so they can trap men. this is just biology."

Hang on!!! I knew sleeping through Biology lectures was bad idea and it looks like I missed a whole new section of biology! Either that or someone just made some shit up and called it biology.


Clue to lifeboat (interesting nick! more on this to follow): Just because it has the word "nature" (which you threw in there anyway), it doesn't mean it is biology.

I think the word you might be looking for might have something to do with society. Mong.

P.S : Can anyone else resist the "If you are a lifeboat, I'd rather drown" line?

Pri said...

Girl are you missing half a locket cause i think you might be my twin.

The Bride said...

Kind of coincidence that I came across this post because I was just having this same conversation with my mum yesterday. Her take is:
1) Men will be men (then she gets shouted at by me)
2) Maybe what's happening is unfair, but you cannot change everything in one go but work on it slowly. (probably true but gahhh)
3)So much has changed since she was married so I am being too negative.
What I was trying to tell her is that while yes things have changed (eg - men do share the housework, nappy changing, say politically correct things about women being equal) I'm surprised that so much has NOT changed. My experience is that today's Indian man, especially when you're dating him, exudes the aura of egualitarianism (for want of a better word)and probably even believes that he believes in fairness and all that.

I think when that actually begins to crack for most women is in the run-up to and during the actually wedding. It is here that contact with the family (both your own and the guy's) becomes inevitable and you are generally faced with a blast of patriarchy. The majority of wedding traditions are patriarchal and you are faced with two options: go along with them or go to battle (and it can get really bloody). Most guys choose to cop out at this stage and commonly, instead of taking on their folks and standing firm for what they had implied they believe in, try to smooth everything over sans confrontation which is pretty impossible.

From then on, there is no avoiding patriarchy at every turn because marriage as an institution is patriarchal. So while over the years we have tweaked it to make it less unfair, we still have lingering traces of unfairness to women. Add to that the very obvious statements that you have to contend with from the extended family - and whether you care what they say or not, it gets annoying to listen to this drivel all the time and not react.

Marriage continues to be unfair because women are still stuck in their gender roles of 'giving in' and men (when they actually think about these things and confront them which they are generally loathe to do) prefer the status quo because it's nicer to them. I mean - if the arrangement leans towards them spending more time with their folks on holidays than yours or getting a load of cash when they marry you (which was not done in my case but is extremely common in some form or other) why turn it down? It's like being in a job where you get more perks than a colleague who you are really good friends with - how many of us would turn down the perks because it's unfair?

About marriage as an institution itself - the family in India is like social security elsewhere. The whole thing has been geared up so that you have security when you're old/ill etc. In Scandanavian countries, the state takes care of that and so the institutions of marriage and family have collapsed. In the US, where social security may not be that great and where family is not great either (this may be a generalization so discount if untrue) people are stuck in credit (loans, mortgage, credit cards etc). As people (especially women) get more financially and emotionally independent, and rid themselves of the idea that children are security for the future, the institution will collapse. All the love and cuddly stuff is to dress up this cold hard fact - social institutions serve a definite social purpose.

Marriage also provides stability for child rearing and propogation of the species is something that society has to ensure. Except in India where there's too much propogation so frankly, again, marriage may become a redundant.

Ultimately, marriage is a contract - whether you do it in court or the whole religious thing - and binds two people together under certain conditions. On a personal note, one of the big factors that pushed me to get married when I did was because my boyfriend was going to be in another city and I refused to move there without some (legal) security because I just don't trust men and their promises. It's not that I don't/didn't love him or thought he was 'the one' (sigh I actually thought that) but I wouldn't have done the whole wedding when I did it it hadn't given me what I wanted to move to another city - security.

In the future, we will need to rethink the whole purpose of marriage - especially since women are beginning to question whether the stability is worth the unfairness of it all. Our children may not see the need for it at all. Or maybe we will rework it so that it serves a new purpose and the roles are redefined.

I agree with the comment on companionship. You trade off a lot of things just for having a person to come home to every day (hopefully) for the rest of your life. I just wish guys had to trade off as much as well.

Formerly Feminist Military Spouse said...

I read this post with much interest. I have been married for over three years now to someone in the military. I never (although perhaps I should have) anticipated the enforcement by both the military and military spouses of social gender norms that I have experienced. Honestly, if I had to do it all over again, I totally would just continue to "live in sin" with him. If you love someone a piece of paper does not hold that together, and in the cases of anyone who is in a marriage with someone in the service, it serves to strip you of your rights and make you into exactly what they call you on paper "a dependent."
Right now I am trying to figure out what to do about this situation. My spouse and I love each other, but I want my humanity back and we are trying very hard to determine whether it is better to destroy a piece of paper for the sake of the relationship.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, all those men who say that men "help" out now, blah, blah, I'd like you to do a simple exercise. Please make a list of all the chores that your male married/in a live-in relationship friends do on a daily basis (meaning 7 days a week) consistently (which means 12 months in a year) for years (like every single year). Note: doing something once or twice a week or for a month in a year does NOT count.

Let me list some of them for you : 1. Making three meals a day
2. Grocery shopping including daily bread, milk, necessities.
3. Vaccuuming/dusting the house
4. Cleaning kitchens/bathrooms (kitchens every night, bathrooms every few days).
5. Laundry, folding & ironing clothes
6. Doing the vessels and putting them away.
7. Taking out the garbage and replacing the garbage bags.
8. Doing the usual monthly clean-ups - giving away the newspapers, old clothes etc. That's what I can think of as a start. Oh and if its India and people have maids to do this work, how much of it is supervised by men? As in get after the maid to do it, tell her what to cook, make sure she's not taking too much oil in the food, cooking and cleaning when she's not there etc etc etc.

Oh and we haven't even got to childcare. Someone please list childcare chores here and people can do their own checklist.

Then we can talk.

n!

Perspective Inc said...

It really doesn't matter at the end of the day...you have to go with what makes you happy as trite as it may sound...I have been married 3 years now and my best friend has been in a live in relationship for the past 7 without any plans of ever getting married and we are all happy in our social settings we've made for ourselves...

Krish Ashok said...

Punkster,

You are totally right. Indian weddings are mostly father-pays-thru-the-nose-to-lose-daughter-to-moron ceremonies. Even if the guy isnt actually a moron, the very nature of the ceremony will make him one. For one, the guy hardly ever pays for anything. Even if he offers to, the girl's family will find it demeaning to accept. What a vicious circle. Further, the mantras are all so archaic and male-centric. There are atleast a hundred requests for a "Male issue" and several references to "docile, demure wife" and "sumangali", which translates to "you better die before the guy does". So yeah, I am actually surprised any Indian girl wants to marry in the first place.

shrek said...

R u a lesb or divorcee ? i dont mean to hurt u, but seriously asking.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

i'm baack.

excuse me while i take a minute to snicker at the 'ball' and 'chain' reference..

oh and snicker some more at shrek. i mean wtf!

silbil said...

Shrek are you an ass or just deranged. I don't mean to hurt you, but not so seriously asking, as I (we )know the answer already.

The Stig said...

Dear anonymous "n",

"Oh please, all those men who say that men "help" out now, blah, blah, I'd like you to do a simple exercise. Please make a list of all the chores that your male married/in a live-in relationship friends do on a daily basis (meaning 7 days a week) consistently (which means 12 months in a year) for years (like every single year)."

What? That makes no sense. How would you know if a married friend cleans the kitchen or the bathroom? You think someone's gonna go around boasting that they cleaned the kitchen? Seriously. Your "exercise" is an exercise in futility.

The Bride said...

@n

I must confess that my husband and I are pretty lazy by your standards because we only cook and clean once a week. However, keeping that in mind, I'd like to share that V does do 1) 2) and half of 4) (that is cleans his own bathroom).

So, we're kind of evenly split on him doing the cooking (!!) and me the cleaning. I guess I have it pretty good then.

But I still find that a lot of things are set up in favour of the guys. I am constantly being urged to cook by in-laws and even my own mom and at some level I do feel guilty (conditioning I suppose) that I don't (though that doesn't mean that I started cooking). Guys just get so much more credit and feel so virtuous when they do any work. I have to constantly reiterate to V that the houswork is NOT my responsibility.

I guess my problems are more related to family pressures outside the two of us and V's tendency to go with what's easiest for him

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ A'mouse: Whoops, my bad then. :)

@ Lifeboat: If I am so 'deparate' mister evolutionary biologist and all around brilliant person, then I am beyond redemption. So don't worry about me, and don't let the door hit you on your ass on the way out, i.e. get your ass outta here. Thanks.

@ The stig: Isnt this lifeboat person grand! Such pearls of biology! I feel so insignificant in the presence of such greatness. Sniff.

@ Pri: Ooo! then let me practice the slo-mo running towards each other sequence then, for when we meet! And hello! =D

@ The bride: Your last line hits home. It is a fact that guys do not trade off or give up as much as we do be it a marriage or a long term relationship. it is as simple as that, really.

@ Formerly feminist military spouse:
I have only vaguely read about ‘military spouses’ and I always knew that gender roles were dutifully enforced albeit with much more emphasis, but I guess I never really imagined how hard it could be, not because of indifference, but only because I have never known anyone or been exposed to such a military culture. But I read your blog, and I must say that your posts are wonderful and visceral, and I hope everything works out between the both of you, and you can come to some sort of understand without compromising everything. Oh and hello!

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ n!: Oh and don’t forget child care. I want to know how many men actively change diapers, feed the child (after the breastfeeding period, of course), and generally partake in all the running around behind the child a mom usually does. I want to see how many men do it, not as a favor to their spouses, but as something which is a given.

@ Perspective Inc: Well, to an extent. If you are happy with the choices you have made, then as I said in the post, it is not in my place to pick you apart. I am just not sure that I want to partake in the institution of marriage, at all.

@ Krish Ashok: First of all, thank you for agreeing with me. And yes, most of the rituals involve 1) Complicated incantations about how the woman should be a ‘sumangali’ 2) Are mostly if not all the time uttered by the groom 3) The symbolic ‘giving the bride from the father to the groom’ type rituals in some cases, upholding age old patriarchal tenets.

Oh and don’t even get me started on the splitting of the costs, and suchlike. Augh.

@ TAP: Hee. Done snickering? :)

@ Silbil: I know eh? I guess we can safely deduce from his/her comment that Shrek’s brain capacity is that of a deprived worm. Heh.

@ The Stig: I honestly don’t think that n! wanted anyone to ‘boast’ about what they do, in as much as they sat down and actually documented what they do regularly in terms of chores etc. and really see if the division of labor within a marriage or a live-in or a long-term relationship was more or less fair or equal.

So, I think n!’s exercise is necessary for evaluating your relationship and how equalitarian it really is, at its most basic level.

Anonymous said...

Megha: Thanks. That was EXACTLY what I meant. And yes, I deliberately didn't include childcare because your post was technically about marriage not marriage-with-kids. Though I would wager childcare really tips the gender balance, more so because it is accompanied by all that bunkum about women being biologically equipped to look after children better etc etc. Like there's a diaper-changing chromosome we haven't discovered yet.

Stig: I can think of two ways right off the top of my head to get my data (a) Ask your friends. I'm sure in years of knowing them, you've shared far more personal data (if you've ever discussed salary or your love life, asking them who cleans the kitchen everyday is not so hard, is it?). If you are feeling too shy, you can say you are collecting data for a social science research (b) Observe them. When you are invited to their houses for a weekend or a dinner, who does what? Who cooks? Who sets the table? Who cleans after dinner? Who feeds the kid (if any0 and puts it to sleep and whatnot? I am sure there's a pretty good correlation between observation on a random occasion and regular days. There's that saying that I forget, the one about where ther'es a will there's a way etc etc.

Bride, don't feel guilty about cooking. There are some of us out there who can't cook at all (and in my case my mom-in-law runs cooking classes, ha ha ha!) and who's spouses/partners do the daily cooking and we still have great marriages!

n!

scarface said...

I'd puke at marriage even if there was a remotest of remote possiblity of marrying somebody with the views/mind remotely similar to urs!!

Ok the above was a slur and I am chuvanist and offcourse a man. But strangely even my girl friend seems to agree with my comments!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Punkster, sorry I wrote the same comment twice. Can you delete one of them?

n!

The Bride said...

@n hehehe god ol' sam!
@ formerly feminist military spouse - i'd love to read your blog... it never ocurred to me that military life could be so stressful if you're not the only marching around in uniform. I guess I was under the impression that it was more liberal.

hedonistic hobo said...

Ok so that was a long post, lengthier and loftier comments and now it's my turn.

I haven't arrived at the same sort of clarity about marriage as you have but I must admit sistah, I struggle with the concept, the purpose of it just as you do. My worry is this, whether I enter a legally and socially sanctioned contract of marriage or continue living-in with the person "in sin" as one of the comments said it, I don't think I'd be able to resist the temptation to slide in to gender roles. For two reasons, I dunno if it was The Bride who said it or was it someone else (sorry!),

1. Security . Not just security of longevity, the rights and privileges that come with being married and then unfortunately getting divorced. But also the security of not having to contend with too much social stigma. I'm sure I can reason with my family should I choose to make some 'unconventional choices' but as you said there's the extended family and an extended social network. And they may not all be bad people but they may not be understanding. I think without the right sort of guy (I shall explain) a marriage would be a cop out for me.

2. Conditioning . Unlike Wendlein's rather myopic assertion, I am an Indian woman who is comfortable with wearing a bikini, a tattoo and essentially my own skin. And I think I belong to a growing minority. But I can't confess to have arrived at a the ultimate level of consciousness of exactly who I am and the mechanisms at work in shaping who I am or will become. So I fear that I might give in to conditioning rather than make the same choices but in a state of acute awareness and certainty of what I want for myself. As opposed to what I think I should want. Also Wendelin many, if not most Indian women are not free to entertain certain choices post marriage but that confinement more often than not predates they're marriage. It's lifelong imprisonment when you're conditioned in to being a 'woman' rather than yourself.

I wouldn't discredit evolutionary biology completely just as you haven't. The other day I'd read some article on why people have sex, I think it was in the NY Times. The paper that the article wrote about had mentioned some arcane evolutionary biological theory that I can't possibly remember the name of but it went like this. Because of the 9 month long gestation period, the difficulty of pregnancy, the difficulties of multiple pregnancies, the recovery period from a pregnancy and blah blah blah most human societies have evolved psycho-sexual systems and norms that stress on the female's gate-keeping role. Men on the other hand have it much easier when it comes to procreating and thereby automatically seek out multiple mates because in evolutionary biology speak men will be men . So evolutionary biology can perhaps shed some idea on why certain types of institutions have come to be accepted on a wide-scale. But how do we then explain Scandinavian socieites like Sweden which was recently rated as the best place on earth for women? In these societies these norms have changed and they're also consistently ranked as the happiest places on earth (first it was Finland, then it was Denmark). In Sweden, men and women both get a year long's worth of paid maternity/paternity leave. No one takes it for granted that should certain imperatives arise it is the woman who will make the sacrifice. Both partners are expected to fulfill their parental duties, evolutionary or socially conditioned, because that's an evolutionarily enhanced society for you.

And this other thing that we come across so often in social sciences literature. About how social outcomes of infants are vastly improved if the mother is educated (thus a more informed parent) and working (perhaps has more bargaining power within the household, though that is questionable) citing a vast array of psychological and biological reports to strengthen the argument. I wonder at least within the Indian context (and not just) is this also because of the working assumption that a father needn't be involved at the same level of intensity (not same activities mind you) as a mother. As you said, he is just the provider and not the nurturer (though mine's the better of both). How are the life chances of infants affected when say a father is nurturing and the mother is absentee ? Or when both parents are equally involved? It's worth asking. Think about there are also countless studies about how women with absentee fathers or neglectful fathers grow up to be poor mate selectors and women with involved and good father seek out mates who remind them of their own. The point is the father has an equally important role to play that involves the same level of involvement as the mother and perhaps it would help if social sciences, humanities and evolutionary biology directed some of the research questions about gender roles towards analyzing the role of the father.

So much much much much more to say. :) Zypsy never believe what you see , but don't disbeleive it either. Just say I don't know. Don't assume that your married female friends have all made individual choices. You will never know the dynamics of a woman's mind and the myriad of influences that shape her decisions. Some of these influences just come from plain simple conditioning. A good starting point to analysing a person's behaviour in a relationship is to consider the gender roles they've been exposed to through their parents' interaction. Mine is an egalitarian household, a matriarchal one actually which explains why I've always recieved the encouragement to be the person I am today. I'm not impervious to gender stereotyping, my fmaily doesn't live far away from the rest of the society in the woods but for the most part I'm glad for the upbringing both my brother and I have recieved. All I'm saying is don't shut yourself to an opinion, saying I don't know opens up entirely new realms of possibilities. Does this entire massive comment from me mean that I am decidedly on Megha's side of this debate? I don't know, I'm more sympathetic to her view than to the bozo who talked about puking on her or on his marriage if he was married to her, but in the meantime I'm just going to keep trying to figure out my personal stance. I think ti's more about figuring out what kind of relationship you want. The kind of person you want to be with. I'm a gutsy girl, not ballsy but titanium tittied if you get my drift, I doubt I'd be satisfied with anyone too conventional or not self-reflexive.

Ok. I have no more words for my own blog now. Damn you Megha!

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ n!: Oh its no problem. :)

I love the point you made about casual observation, as that speaks volumes, and if you observe closely you will really get the gist of how people interact with one another, between partners or in a social setting.

Thats why I think your exercise and the subsequent point you made about observation is not just important, but necessary on an elemental level.

@ Scarface: Whatever.

@ Hobo: You're back! Yay! And with a monster sized comment too! Talk about coming back with a bang. =D

I think it is impossible to answer your comment as a whole, but I will start by saying that your comment was g.l.o.r.i.o.u.s. Why didn't you turn it into a post? It is certainly post worthy and then some, me thinks.

Unfortunately, I have a party of sorts to go to in like 15 mins and I dont want to type out a rushed reply to your comment. I want to do it justice you see (:)), so expect a reply tomorrow!

Veo Claramente said...

I think you've written fairly about your point of view, which is hard on such an emotional subject. I agree with many of the things you said, I do think that sometimes its easier on one's individual decisions if one doesn't cite societal forces as causes for them. I know that in the end individuals are shaped by society , but life becomes harder and harder the more one looks for large reasons for one's small or not-so-small choices.
Erk, am getting involved and philosophical. Anyway, nice to hear your point of view.

Eva G. said...

Gosh, you know, I really am not a fan of feminism, but I really love getting a glimpse of your thinking, my love. You are brilliant and unless you start blathering right-wing propaganda, I will continue to enjoy the blog.

And yes, we will go out soon. I wouldn't want you to forget how I look (which remains stunningly beautiful ;)

anonymouse said...

No punk response yet?

Wendelin said...

@ HOBO: Unlike Wendlein's rather myopic assertion, I am an Indian woman who is comfortable with wearing a bikini, a tattoo and essentially my own skin. ... Also Wendelin many, if not most Indian women are not free to entertain certain choices post marriage but that confinement more often than not predates they're marriage. It's lifelong imprisonment when you're conditioned in to being a 'woman' rather than yourself.

I wasn't talking about conditioning in my comment actually. I am as 'liberated' as liberated gets, and *I* am not uncomfortable wearing bikinis or tattoos (at least, not for reasons of 'Indianness' conditioning - TEH FLAB is another matter!).

But considering that the last time I wore a short top over my jeans in India (Bangalore, btw), a completely sober sleazebag ran over and BIT MY RIGHT BREAST, I don't feel safe wearing bikinis in India.

Even if I did, my in-laws, parents and general extended family would have a collective fit that would just be a bitch to contend with. I shouldn't have to face, that, you know? THAT is what i was talking about in my comment. Social mores essentially forbid such freedoms for women in India. I fail to see what's 'myopic' about this.

Drunken Master said...

Since we're all discussing this topic so intensely, allow me to ask a very very important question since curiousity killed me so long ago:

What is the record for number of comments on a single blog post here?

Cheers

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Drunken: 232, I think. :)

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Veo Claramente: First of all, hello! And there is nothing wrong with getting philosophical, at all. Oh and before I forget, thank you!

@ Eva: Gosh, enough with the praise (but thanks, hee!). Yeah, we SHOULD get that drink soon. Before I run into you and don't recognize you anymore. Sniff. :P

@ A'mouse: In due time. :)

hedonistic hobo said...

where's the response!?!?

@Wendellin: It's stressful being a woman in India. Period. Everyone has expectations. Everyone's waiting with chalk in hand to draw circles around your freedom. And I get what you mean , you pick and choose your battles. A bikini's probably not worth it but for some a bikini's not even an issue.

Eve teased while wearing a short top? It happens no matter what you wear. Gaaaaaaaaahhhh!!! A fat, pot-bellied middle-aged dude (who actually fits the profile of the average sexual abuser in the city) had once made a comment about my sleeveless salwar kameez. He called it 'cut sleeves'. Lasciviously said, 'Voh madam jo cut sleeves pehen kar aati hain'. (The woman who comes wearing cut sleeves). Like I cut my own sleeves!!! But yummy for him no? Imagine a woman with the gall to cut her own sleeves. What a trollop she would be! And somehow in his head all that translates to 'yippeeee for me!'
I hate people who say 'cut sleeves'. It's sleeveless. It came this way mofo, I didn't cut them. And even if I did it doesn't mean I cut my retinas too. Or cut off the blood supply to my brain. Because cut sleeves or sleeveless or I cut my sleeves; IT DON'T MEAN I'M A WHORE.

who_is_john_galt? said...

Hi.

Can i post a link to this post from my blog?

umm...actually...hv already done that :D

please temme if you want me to take it down.

thanks.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Hobo: I’m so sorry that I didn’t reply earlier. I was sidetracked with the mild inconvenience of food poisoning, hence the lateness. Sigh.

I specifically wanted to expand on your point about evolutionary biology with respect to pregnancy (and I agree with you btw). I do concede that the mother has a very important role to play when the child is between new born and about 18 months old or during the period of breastfeeding. After that time frame though, there is nothing and I mean nothing biological or psychobiological which really stops the father from taking an active interest and wholeheartedly jumping into child-rearing, and it has been done albeit successfully in the case of stay at home dads, yes? This is where I say that social conditioning plays an enormous part in how different sexes relate and react to child-rearing.

My main beef is ultimately with the fact that we are indoctrinated into believing and internalizing that a woman should not only ‘want’ children, she should also place being pregnant and having children on a pedestal and regard that above anything else that she might hope to accomplish in her life. And that kind of systematic and insidious conditioning, not biological determinism (eugh) or socially sanctioned archetypes parading as evolutionary biology, is where I really think the problem lies.

I also don’t really buy into the veneration of motherhood, specifically with respect to the deification of the ‘maternal instinct’ as something which is automatically wired into all women. Firstly because, not ALL women are automatically fabulous mothers or perfect for motherhood. There are good mothers, yes but there are also not-so-good mothers and mothers who weren’t really cut out for child rearing at all. And then there are fathers who are better nurturers or to be crass have a better ‘maternal instinct’ than the mothers themselves! So how do we account for that? How is that explained by the so called evolutionary biologists who subscribe to the circular and faulty ‘men will be men’ worldview, cited by the NY Times article you mentioned?

Grah, too many questions, too little time.

See what you’ve done Hobo, your comment has done the same thing to me as my post did to you. Hee! :D

Grafxgurl said...

i think you'll change your mind.. suddenly, one day.
*secret grin*

i was JUST like you when i was in my early 20's..up until i was 26.

Then i met Ed.And i totally flipped over.and im SOOOO happy i did!!

:D

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Grafx: Ahh Grafx, I'm afraid not. Heh heh. =D

LiFeBoAt said...

so u sent ur fans on me anyways.i did not want to come back here but ur attitude made me do it.why are u afraid lady?cant face the truth na? finally you urself have proven my point. women avoid fights nd conflict. men are naturaly aggresive. this is a fact.this is biology. that is why all women need marriage. they need the strength of a male. otherwise how will they survive? women are physically weak hence marriage was made into a system where they get support. this is just genetics. so how can u say that marriage is bias towards women. just look at science and u will know that it is actually bias toward men because they are forced to support women like this.and stig baba, you think u are big joker? what are u saying? if you cant make sense or dont know science then you please keep quiet. let the lady defend herself na.

Pri said...

Jeez every time i come back here there's 40 billions new comments. Anyway i bring good news.
You've been TAGGED. This was not my idea. I picked names out of a hat. Alright i lied. Everyone else seemed way too boring. DO NOT tell on me.

The Stig said...

My dearest lifeboat,
"if you cant make sense or dont know science then you please keep quiet."

ROFLMAO! Dude. seriously. You are killing me!

Thank you for brightening up a dull morning. I think you might want to open a dictionary and look for the meaning of the term "irony". Also, try reading a middle school biology book. Actually, much more specifically, zoology. Start from that and work your way up to a high school zoology book. You need it more than anyone. Also, skip the parts about evolution, since you seem to be living proof that survival of the fittest is a bunch of nonsense. Darwin rolls in grave! I'd refer you to better books, but what is the point in asking a 6 year old to read a book on 6 sigma?



P.S : Thanks for making me a Baba!

anonymouse said...

The stig, lawyer for 6 year olds on the line. Something about libel ...

Renegade said...

Long time since I came here, excellent post lady. Hats off....

vidya said...

From now on doctors all over the world will prescribe 'males' instead of Vitamins etc to make us weak women strongggg and save us from genetic predispositions !! :)

Drunken Master said...

No wonder I was lousy at biology. If I only knew Lifeboat back then, he would have been a lifeboat for my grades.

By the way Lifeboat, how can The Punk defend herself when she and her ilk are weak and want to avoid fights and conflict? The Stig was only doing what comes naturally to us men, and I'm assuming stig is a guy and by "us" I mean stig and me and the like.

Oh and tell me you're not into the life sciences, Lifeboat!

Renovatio said...

I decided to look up your prod-iness, seems I caught comment 100...

In answer to your 'til death to us part', there was this show on star world for a bit. This fellow speaks on vows.

They were only meant for when people lived till they were 30.

I hear you.

the wannabe indian punkster said...

@ Renovatio: Hello! And 'your prodiness' it seems! Ha ha!

The 'til' death do is part' is but an unattainable fantasy, anyway. I still cannot believe that people get done in by that tripe, but apparently they do.

Anurag said...

Ahem!

chronicwriter said...

me not gender biassed.. but you are strongly rooted to your beliefs/... keep going..

Manjunatha said...

I am a late commenter and not sure whether somebody has raised this issue. As you may know, marrying and reproducing are two totally different issues. I understand if you say you don't want to marry. However, if you also mean you don't want to have children then I think that is self-defeating. Breed and propagate your ideas to next generation even if you don't marry. Of course, you can adopt too.

Apologies for being preachy.

Vivek said...

I guess of late many feel that marriage is a burden and kids really not necessary. I dont know if any of the readers here have experienced a live-in relationship.

if only everyone who doesnt want to get married can adopt a kid in india, it would be a great thing.

what say author?

sach said...

Just came across your post. Very interesting perspective which is quite similar to my own take on marriage. I come from Sri Lanka, where arranged marriages are still popular, marital rape is not a crime, divorce laws are still tentatively moving towards irrevocable breakdown, etc.

I think what went wrong for a lot of Asian countries is the fact that along with colonisation came the Christian idea of marriage as a sanctimonious institution.