In a recent interview with Twinkle Khanna, Sushmita Sen poured her heart out about adoption and marriage. She narrated all the struggles she had to go through to adopt Renee, her first child. “I applied for adoption when I was 21. But Renee was handed over to me when I became 24.”
Apart from the legal struggle of a single and fertile woman adopting a child, Sen had to answer irrelevant questions about her marriage. Her close ones constantly reminded her that adoption might create problems in her married life. Although Sen braved these criticisms, there are many women in our society who make decisions in life based on future marriage prospects.
In Indian society, a woman’s marriage takes precedence over everything, even her aspirations. Since they are young, women are bound by restrictions because parents focus on making them good wives instead of strong and independent individuals. Parents, blinded by the desire to get their daughters married, rarely understand how they are clipping the wings of their children.
Women are not allowed to step out alone, not allowed to meet any man because society may make assumptions about them and it will pose an obstacle when getting married. Women are told to abstain from partaking in sports or playing in the sun because it affects skin tone and I have witnessed it all.
Sania Mirza once told SheThePeople that she was warned about becoming dark or a tomboy if she continued practising in the sun. If women want to pursue higher studies, go to foreign, or choose a career that is unconventional, they are stopped right away and said do whatever they want after their in-laws’ permission.
I, too like many women faced opposition when I first announced I wanted to pursue journalism because I would not be able to balance between family and career. Let me remind you, the chores we women are expected to do is part of the extensive training women undergo to be moulded into a “good daughter-in-law”.
Sushmita Sen And Her Decision’s Impact
However, very few women like Sen and Mirza stand their ground. Sen’s decision to be a mother at 21 without sparing a thought towards her marriage was a bold move. Her act of chasing her ambition unapologetically in itself is an act of rebellion against the age-old gendered rules imposed on women. Not that she never thought of being married, but she did not let it cap her aspirations and it is admirable.
Daughters are always considered as paraya dhan who have to be returned safely to someone else. But if women are really paraya dhan, then why do parents get to decide how they chart out their life?
Why are women always objectified as a thing exchanged in marriage? Do they not have the right to aim, think and make decisions? Must they always worry about whether the future groom will accept her or not? Must the fear of marriage overshadow women’s rights and freedom to achieve?
Why don’t we rather ask men to adjust and lower their standards which are most of the time a mirage created by patriarchy? Why do we always try to make women perfect and flawless as per standards? Why don’t we ask men to be more understanding and broad-minded? If a woman’s passion and dreams become a roadblock in her marriage, then the marriage is not worth giving a chance.
Sen also made an important point by saying that her two kids were not the reasons why she never married. In every relationship she was involved in, she made it clear that her children are her priority. But all the men she met were a “let-down”. This shows Sen’s stubbornness to stand by and be proud of her decisions. No matter what comes, she will not let go of the freedom to be herself.
What also must attract the viewers is the fact that Sen’s father didn’t object to her decision to adopt. Although he knew that this decision might affect her entire course of life, he didn’t stall her from following her heart. He said as Sen quotes, “I have not raised my daughter just to be someone’s wife. She has chosen this motherhood and she will follow through. She has my support.”
So dear parents, raise your daughters to be themselves not someone else’s wife.
The views expressed are the author’s own.