Joru ka ghulam How often have you heard the term? And how often did you question its misogyny and patriarchy?
India loves to label married men as joru ka ghulam for being supportive of wife’s choices, careers and desires and for not performing well at their vocation. And in turn, ‘villainise’ the wife who is intrusive, wicked and dominating. For not being who she is supposed to be- a servant, a slave?
Every man who refuses to dominate his wife, which is supposed to be the norm set by patriarchy, is shamed and labelled as a slave of his wife. This points out the normalisation of power relation between husbands and wife because if not joru ka ghulam then joru should be the ghulam, right? Why doesn’t society understand that relationships or marriage is based on equality? Why is not normal for a husband to support his wife’s choices? Would a woman be shamed for taking care of her husband’s choices? No that’s her duty, right?
The idea of joru ka ghulam might seem outdated to many readers today. But for your knowledge, this idea has been peddled again and again by the Indian society to shame famous cricketers and their wives. Remember when Anushka Sharma was trolled and criticised for her husband, Virat Kohli’s bad performance on the field or for his decision to take paternity leave? Kohli was dragged under the umbrella of joru ka ghulam who cares for his wife more than his country or game.
Calling it a “cultural issue”, tennis player Sania Mirza once pointed out that “whenever our husbands perform, it’s because of them and when they don’t it’s because of us. I don’t know how that works.” These are just examples of how the idea of joru ka ghulam permeates not only among common people like you and me but among celebrities too. And this shows the prevalence of inequality in marriage and society.
The idea of joru ka ghulam points out the stereotype of considering women as a mere distraction for men who are indulged in important business.
This conception can be traced back to mythologies, one of which is the story of Meneka and Vishwamitra. As per the tale, Vishwamitra was a well-regarded sage who used his meditation to become more powerful than the gods themselves. However, Lord Indira who was worried about the enhancing power of Vishwamitra, sent Meneka, an apsara, to distract and lure Vishwamitra. And that’s what happened. Meneka lured Vishwamitra out of his meditation, the two married and had a daughter. When Vishwamitra got to know that he was tricked, he cursed Meneka for life.
The point is that since ancient times and till today, women have been rendered as a serving spouse, mere distraction and evil companion of a well-renowned man.
Women have been used, blamed, abducted and raped in the battle between men. But what has never happened is assigning a positive individuality to women. Why don’t women have an identity, choice and desires of their own? Why is it a norm for women to serve the man rather than expecting otherwise? Why is it wrong for a husband to treat his wife as his equal, take care of her and respect her choices? Just why is it wrong to see husbands and wives as separate individuals and yet together?
“There is a woman behind the success of every man” this saying is very common and endorses the idea that a woman must support her husband in his work and success. But why is it uncanny if husbands support their wives in their success? Why is a wife either a supporter for her husband or the reason for his failure but never the one who wants to achieve something too?
Dear society, it is high time you understand that marriage is based on the pillars of mutual love, respect and equality. Any marriage that involves even a trace of power dynamics, is not a relationship but servitude. So stop using the ideas of “ghulam” while referring to a husband or a wife. Because none of them is a slave to the other. But individuals with personal aims and choices who have decided mutually to spend their life together as lovers and equals. If a wife’s duty is to support her husband, the same goes for husbands too. And there is no need to raise eyebrows because this should be the norm. Is that too hard for you, dear society, to digest?