The 20s And The Big M: Why Is Marriage Supposed To Be The Zenith Of A Girls Existence?

Posted on September 12, 2014 in Sexism And Patriarchy, Society, Taboos

By Kasturi Saikia:

You are studying in a college, working hard for your undergraduate degree. Your days are full with assignments, tests, friends and more assignments. You have big plans for the future, and even bigger dreams — spending the summer at pristine beaches with your friends, enjoying a cup of coffee sitting in a small cafe in busy Manhattan, shopping in the streets of Milan and Paris, and the occasional trip to the Louvre or Madam Tussaud’s. The list is endless and so are your dreams.

Picture Credits: Khadija Dawn Carryl
Picture Credits: Khadija Dawn Carryl

The day comes when you finally receive your degree and the world is just waiting for you to start exploring it, when an aunt pops the question “So, what now? Further studies or wedding bells?” and Voila! There you are! Rudely jolted back to reality.

While you have been stealing away into your fantasy world enjoying your delicious dreams, somewhere in reality, your future was being discussed in a less appetizing way.

I wonder — is getting married the zenith of a girl’s entire existence? Why is it that when a boy turns 21, he is free to do what he likes, free to chase his dreams? And in the case of a girl, why is it that turning 21 sets off the alarm bells in the minds of everyone remotely connected to her? You go to a wedding with your Mom and Dad (believe me, it’s even worse if you’re attending a relative’s marriage) and all the old ladies at the wedding would either give you a weird look or walk up to you, smile at you and tell you “You’re next in line, beta”.

Seriously?!

There was a time when girls were expected to get married the moment they turned 21. Waiting for another few years would just accelerate the anxiety attacks of her parents. Although the scenario is not as bad as it was back then, there still exist traces of that belief in some spheres of the society. A few days back, a distant cousin of mine made the mistake of getting engaged to her fiance when she was still pursuing her post graduation degree. It was an arranged marriage. She never wanted to commit so soon, but relatives from both the sides cajoled her into agreeing for an engagement, giving her assurances like “It’s just an engagement. You can get married a few years later, whenever you decide to”. It’s worth mentioning here that the guy was a few years older than her and he already had finished his studies, and was working in a reputed company. The poor girl didn’t get time to process what had just hit her. Within an year, she got married and is now safely packaged on the way to foreign shores.

This is just one of the tactics that is employed to achieve the desired results. First, it’s just an engagement. Then slowly, the pressure of tying the knot builds up. And the next thing you know – you are married. And hey! That’s not all. Because just when you stop to assess everything around you and try to adjust yourself to your new surroundings, a voice pipes out “When do we get the good news?”! 

Even if you are lucky enough to have supportive parents who have given you the consent to “go out there, and have it all”, the society will still haunt you until you get yourself a supportive pillar in the form of a husband. A boy of thirty-five is considered to be a “Very Eligible Bachelor”. If he is a doctor or an engineer, or has an equivalent successful career to flaunt, he is flocked with offers of marriage. In contradiction, if a girl is thirty five and equally successful, people look at her like she is some kind of a freak. The general agreement is that something must be terribly wrong with her or else she would not have stayed unmarried for so long.

Why do such prejudices exist? A girl of thirty-five is independent, she earns her own living and is capable of contributing towards the welfare of the family as much as the boy is, perhaps even more. But even such perks are not enough for her to be able to find a suitable boy to marry. The only people who would deign to show some interest are the divorcees or the widowers. Why is it that girls are made to wear an expiry date, which when crossed, the girl ceases to be human and becomes an object, to be judged and ridiculed?

Every girl dreams of getting married. It’s beautiful, and the feeling of sharing your life with someone is unique. Getting married is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and it is a big deal! But like every event in our lives, right from growing up, learning to walk and finally completing the transition from a child to an adult, there is a time especially reserved for getting ready to take the plunge into matrimony. Being forced or forcing oneself into this life altering phenomena is not at all easy and hence, we deserve to have all the time in the world to arrive at such big a decision.

What if you just don’t want to get hooked? To be able to live for yourself, to be free from the usual responsibilities of a married life, to be just by yourself and enjoy? Yes, sometimes it seems scary to face the big, bad world on our own, but then again, isn’t it better to face it alone rather than having an unwanted person telling you what to do?

Here’s to hoping that somewhere down the line, in the very near future, society changes the way it perceives the “20s and Marriage” and allows women to be just as capable of deciding when to get married and who to get married to, just as it has been allowing the other sex, for many a decades.

“Stop worrying about your messy hair, your eyeliner and your curvy body. One day you’ll find a guy who won’t care about it !”

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