The search for true gender equality | Editorial HT – editorials
This may seem obvious, but it must be expressed categorically: women have the same desires and needs as men, and are equal in all aspects. As we prepare to celebrate the first Women’s Day of the second decade of the 21st century, more attention should be paid to the idea that within consensual monogamous relationships, women’s agency must be respected. The beginning of a committed monogamous relationship (most often between a man and a woman) is considered the “happy ending” of most love stories in popular culture. It is an assumption that tends to extend to real life as well. Most people believe that everything that happens within a marriage is strictly between the man and his wife. Although this is a good rule to follow, it fails as a strategy in cases where a couple, and we know from the statistics that it is mainly women, faces violence from the other.
Partner violence is the dirty secret of most conservative societies. It is often considered normal for a man to sometimes hit his wife or girlfriend. Kabir Singh released in 2019,He went so far as to insist that the violent protagonist of that horrible story hit his lover “for love”, and that the beating was an expression of his love. This not only glamorizes, but also normalizes the misogyny of dating violence, both physical and emotional. Therefore, it is a relief to contrast this popular culture with a film like the recently released Thappad, in which a housewife decides to divorce her husband when he slaps her. The film also recognizes how many undermine the importance of such violence, with several people asking the protagonist to “let him go”, because it was “just a slap”. The film attempts to explain that it is not only a slap, although unacceptable, but that everything that the response to such violence symbolizes is a problem. When family and friends minimize the violence of the act, it is harmful not only for the woman in question, but for society in general.
Even within the constraints of a traditional marriage, the woman’s agency must be recognized as important. The invisibility of violence against women within families, especially of (but not limited to) intimate partners, is a massive problem in Indian society. To address it, it is important that women themselves recognize that they must have equal respect and agency in each relationship; And nothing less is acceptable.