Why Can’t Women Call Their Husbands By Their Names?

Posted by videovolunteers in Sexism And Patriarchy
January 31, 2017

Community Correspondent Madhuri asks Sindhu, Gayatri Devi, Rita Devi and Srisati Devi the names of their husbands. The women, of varying age, all smile shyly and unanimously respond that they cannot refer to their husbands by their names. The reason being the husband seen as the superior creature, equivalent to a god. But can the husband call the wives by their names? “Of course, it’s his right!” replies one.

“The wife is inferior to a god, so there is no problem if he calls me by my name”, opines another.

This is just another way in which patriarchy underscores the hierarchical difference between men and women: women are not just different from men, they are lesser than men. Just as light and dark are not just different, light is superior to dark, similarly between men and women, men are always the ‘better half’, as it were. This hierarchy then normalises the submission of the ‘inferior’ women to the ‘superiority’ of men.

Gender inequality and discrimination, even violence is thus rationalised. There are a hundred such practices unquestioningly adopted by us, even us, urban ‘educated’ women and men that perpetuate the patriarchal system in our daily lives. We can only unlearn such behaviours by turning our critical glance at ourselves, inwards, and reflect on how we justify subtle sexism every day.

This video is made by Community Correspondent Madhuri Chauhan, Uttar Pradesh For Video Volunteers. This series documenting everyday patriarchy is supported by the UNFPA.