Yes For Sex If The Man Wants It: The ‘Mardaangi’ That’s Feeding Society’s Son Preference

Posted on December 30, 2014 in Girls Count, Masculinity, Society, Staff Picks, Taboos

By Zehra Kazmi:


One in three men don’t allow their partner to wear certain clothes and one in five agree with the statement, “When my wife/partner wears things to make herself look beautiful, I think she may be trying to attract other men.”

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

66 percent agree that they have more say than their partner on important decisions that affect them and only 15 percent said that “my wife expects me to ask her approval for big decisions in the home.”

60 per cent men accepted that they were violent towards their partners.

These statistics from a study titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’ published by ICRW and UNFPA, also found that more than three-fourths of men expected their partners to agree if they wanted to have sex.

Such is the situation in India today. Ideas of control, violence and protection colour men’s attitudes towards women. Many forms of patriarchal violence are not even recognized as being so by women, because often they are accepted as a standard part of masculine behaviour in Indian society. Ideas of masculinity are linked to carrying forward the family lineage. The son is the inheritor of wealth, the bread-earner and his marriage adds one more labour to help with the housework. He is the custodian of patriarchal values. Daughters are often not preferred by fathers because the parents have to pay for their weddings, dowries and due to their eventual severing of ties from their natal homes. This leads to son preference among parents. “Son preference” a custom rooted in gender inequality views the “continuity of the male line” as a matter of particular importance.

An important aspect of exhibiting masculine strength in Indian society is exercising control over a sexual partner. This power is often in the form of control of lifestyle choices of women. Masculinity as a set of attributes, behaviours and roles, is generally associated with boys and men. Traits associated with masculinity vary depending on location and context, and are influenced by a variety of social and cultural factors. India’s increasing rate of crimes against women and commonly prevalent gender discrimination raises a lot of questions about what it is in our society that drives men to commit such acts and why some women give it their tacit approval.

The research shows that men who tend to exercise more control on their partners, also prefer having sons. Nearly half the people interviewed during the research were unaware that finding out the sex of the foetus was unlawful and criminally punishable. Half of those in the scope of the study aware of the law, believed that the most important reason behind this practice being outlawed is only so that there are enough girls available as partners for men. Gender biased sex selection within their own families is not what is so abhorrent to them, but the problem of not having enough brides for sons is what bothers them. The full recognition of girls as human beings is still absent from our society.