Bollywood and Indian television soap operas have managed to showcase a bunch of weird, funny and downright horrifying relationships. From Pehredaar Piya Ki depicting an 18-year-old woman marrying a 9-year-old boy to the stalker crowned as the ultimate lover in Raanjhanaa, there’s a lot of toxicity. Kabir Singh is hailed as a superhit even when showing that it’s love when someone physically abuses their partner, reflecting what society deems is okay for men to do in relationships. Yet, when it comes to women who stray even a fraction out of the box they are meant to stay put in, the labels start flying. Everything from her character to sanskaar is questioned.
Gender discrimination is clear and it’s not just limited to the on-screen stories but real, private lives of women in the limelight. Recently, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah actress Munmun Dutta was trolled for allegedly dating her co-star Raj Anadkat, who is nine years younger. With harassing memes and comments continuing to pour in, Munmum took to Instagram saying, “13 years of entertaining people and it didn’t take 13 minutes for anyone of you to rip my dignity apart.”
5 Things Women Are Shamed For In Relationships
Munmun Dutta’s comments showcase the reality of Indian society, the sheer discrimination between genders and blatant sexism. Here are 5 things women shouldn’t feel guilty about and people need to stop shaming them for.
On one hand, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan are hailed as the ultimate couple and on the other hand, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas are trolled endlessly. Though both the couples have a significant age gap, the one where the woman is older than the man is somehow considered “weird”, “abnormal” and “crazy”. In a country that abolished child marriage in the last century and is hellbent on upholding the law, people seem to be quick to point fingers at women who refuse to fall under society’s “rules”.
Just like we go gaga over Shahid and Mira Kapoor, stating that it’s okay for the man to be older, it’s time we do the same for women. Age is just a number and who two consenting adults date is simply their business.
2. Dating “Rich”
The term ‘gold digger’ is thrown around so casually that it’s become a part of the public’s vocabulary. And this term is exclusively reserved for women who dare date or marry someone who earns more than them. This comes as a shock after the endless matrimony demands of potential brides looking for “well-settled” grooms. From Shilpa Shetty to Juhi Chawla and Sridevi to Amrita Arora, women are labelled gold diggers even when they have carved a name for themselves.
The reality is that the ‘women are gold diggers’ stereotype persists in jokes and memes, despite there being no evidence that women are any more money-minded than men. Made In Heaven’s Tara took the term gold diggers from women who are looked down upon and gave it to the protagonist you root for. It’s time we retire the term for good, for in India, it still is the man asking for gold in dowry to get married.
3. Live-In Relationships
Though the Indian Constitution has upheld several times the right of two consenting adults to live together without getting married, society lacks the acceptance. If a woman decides to not get married at an “acceptable age” she is taunted, probed and harassed to find a partner. And when the same woman finds a partner and moves in with them without signing a marriage contract, she is shamed for it.
Indian courts say that a live-in relationship comes within the ambit of the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The courts further held that live-in relationships are permissible and that the act of two adults living together, in any case, cannot be considered illegal or unlawful. It’s time we accept the Raghu and Gayatri of Shuddh Desi Romance in real life.
The virgin trope is the most infamous and absurd one that continues to thrive in India. From looking for “pure” brides when arranged marriage hunting to censoring the word virgin in Finding Fanny, Indians have a weird obsession with a made-up construct. If a woman has had a relationship, or she dates people consensually or engages in sexual encounters with consent, it’s simply her right to do so. It has nothing to do with her character, just like the hymen has nothing to do with sexual experience.
In a society where men are celebrated for having pre-marital sex or sexual intercourse with multiple partners, women are shamed for the exact same thing. And it’s not limited to internet trolls or neighbours, but several women have had judgemental experiences with her gynaecologists! In 2021, it’s time we hang this vile practise and take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror.
5. Choosing Career
A career-oriented woman is strong, ambitious and hardworking, not “masculine” and “asexual” as conceived by many. The expectation that women get married at the “right age”, take care of the house and renounce their careers once they have kids is ridiculous. A powerful female figure is apparently scary for society and it’s best to label her something nasty than accept that she can successfully take charge of multiple things in her life.
Even Ki & Ka, the story of an ambitious woman and a homemaker husband, couldn’t stay away from the ego issues and jealousy that rears its head when a woman is career-oriented. In a world where the man is doing great when he rarely spends time with the family, is travelling for work for months and takes zero responsibility for housework, a woman receives taane for it all.
Obviously, stereotypes are bad. But cliches are powerful because they’re easy to accept, without having to think about it much. And that’s why we see them standing in place of real human qualities and characters. It’s vital to call out these stereotypes because they are not funny but can do actual harm. Tell us in the comments below what stereotypes have you faced as a woman in Indian society.