For centuries, women have been conditioned to believe that they must obey the men in their families because they provide them with basic life necessities. Similarly, men too are raised to believe that they must control women in their life since they are not mature or financially independent to take care of themselves. Controlling women is largely seen as a man’s duty in our patriarchal society. Even today, women are told, “Wo kamata hai, tumhe uski baat sunni chaiye.” Do we ever wonder how such a discourse changes women’s lives?
Just observe how a father asks his young daughter to get up and help her mother in the kitchen, while she was studying. Or when a young man in the family orders his sister, even mother, to change the dress she is wearing because it’s too “revealing”. Oh, and let us not forget how husbands, brothers and fathers get to control what women in the family spend their money on, whether or not they use smartphones, and who they hang out with.
There was a time when our society didn’t allow women to step outside the house and living in the shadow of a man was the norm. With no formal education or career, women were financially dependent and deprived of the agency that money brings to an earning individual. So, the cycle of providing for a woman started with her father and was carried on by her husband and then son, until a woman lived. This practice is prevalent even today.
Men control women: Why this sense of authority?
However, one does wonder, are men given the right to control women’s life? Or is it our subconscious acceptance that it is how things ought to be? Even though centuries have changed our conditioning remains the same. Women not only lack confidence in their decisions, they instinctively turn to men in their lives to make decisions for them.
On the other hand, men often see no harm in telling women what to do with their life. Eventually, a little advise to dress properly or not hang out with a certain male friend soon turns into an order; which when not fulfilled creates the illusion of disobedience- causing hurt to the highly fragile male ego. Just a year back, a girl lost her life at the hands of her grandfather because she refused to let him control the way she dresses. No, it wasn’t something revealing, just a pair of jeans, for which she was physically assaulted so badly that it led to her death.
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Both women and men need to understand that providing food and a roof over the head for someone doesn’t give a person the authority to control their life. Earning or not, women are perfectly capable of fending for themselves. Besides, it is not just men who “provide” for the women. The opposite gender too performs unpaid labour around the house and act as caregivers. Numerous women contribute to the family income by running businesses or holding a half or full-time job. So aren’t men simply being awarded with decision-making powers simply because of their gender then? How is this not bias?
Every person has the right to live their life on their own terms. Be it out of sense of preserving traditions or safety, men have no right to police women and control their lives.
Views expressed are the author’s own.