Why Can’t Society Let Women Walk Away From Dysfunctional Marriages In Peace?

Arrangements of Love, Samantha Ruth Prabhu trolled
Samantha Ruth Prabhu trolled: Actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu has been facing immense scrutiny on social media, ever since she and actor Naga Chaitanya announced their separation on October 2. Popularly known as “ChaySam” the two made up for one of Telugu film industry’s most influential and popular couples, having worked in many films together. However, the reaction to the news about their separation has yet again exposed India’s revulsion to unsuccessful marriages. Fans and the online community, in general, feels entitled to know why “ChaySam” called it quits, and when their demands were not met, rumours and assumptions began doing rounds.

Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Naga Chaitanya tied the knot in 2017, after a courtship of nearly six years. Prabhu and Chaitanya starred together in the former’s debut Telugu film Ye Maaya Chesave. Since then, the two have worked together in films like Manam, Autonagar Surya and Majili. Chaitanya also made a guest appearance in Prabhu’s 2019 hit film Oh! Baby. 

Prabhu, who is best known to Hindi speaking audience for her performance in The Family Man 2, had shared a public statement alongside Chaitanya earlier this month to announce their separation,  requesting privacy and support from fans and well wishers during “this difficult time”.

However, on October 8, the actor took to Twitter to open up about the treatment she has been receiving after parting ways with Chaitanya. She began her statement by thanking everyone for their empathy, concern and for defending her against false rumours and stories that are being spread against her. “They say I had affairs, never wanted to have children, that I am an opportunist and now that I have had abortions,” Prabhu elaborated.

Promising her fans that she won’t let this “relentless attack” bog her down, Prabhu concluded her statement by writing, “I will never allow this or anything else they say, break me.”

It is not just successful actors, but walking away from dysfunctional marriages is not easy for women even today. Does he hit you? Did he have an affair?  What did you do to cross him? Why don’t you try for children, that will help you sort your issues. This entitlement to demand a reason for separation by society shows how little we value emotional compatibility in relationships. Unless one of the partners is in wrong, has committed an unpardonable act like adultery or domestic abuse, the society doesn’t even want to hear the word divorce from married women. But sadly, even when women do provide a reason from society’s approved list of excuses, they are told to try and adjust – bardasht kar lo, ignore it, keep pushing.

For us, there is no such thing as amicable divorce or incompatibility where none of the parties is at fault. So when women refuse to give a reason, society helps itself with endless speculations. Since Samantha Ruth Prabhu is a celebrity people have resorted to burdening her image with the stigmas around ambitious women – they don’t want kids, have abortions, sleep outside of their marriages or are opportunists. No one stops to think – what’s wrong with not wanting kids? Why must a woman be demonised if she has an abortion? It is not just about Prabhu, but about this image that we love to create of separated single women to paint them as “bad” influences.

Women’s success on their own doesn’t count, because our society still believes that no woman is complete unless she is married and has children. A separated successful woman is thus deemed a bad role model for our girls. Her reputation is tarnished so that she can understand that her decision to walk away from a seemingly good marriage isn’t appreciated by our society.

But women today are resilient enough to wade through such smear campaigns and survive. However, no woman or man should have to go through such abuse, simply for choosing to walk away from a relationship that ain’t working anymore.

Views expressed are the author’s own.