Daily soaps have become a part of my life even though I am not a fan of them. I watch them as a companion of my mother. But I criticise them as a feminist audience. Recently, I came across a show that used the common trope of miyan, biwi or woh. The lead couple’s relationship was being threatened by a manipulative lady who is obsessively in love with the lead character.
The lead character’s wife is always in the fear that her husband might be manipulated and will leave her for the other lady. The question that this common trope raises in my is that why do we assume that husbands can be easily manipulated? Shouldn’t marriage be based on trust? Shouldn’t husbands and wives trust each other enough to not doubt each other’s fidelity?
Daily soaps are based on reality
You might say that my entire argument will be based on a “representational reality”. But let me remind you that the daily soaps are formed by imaginations that are deeply rooted in the reality. They represent, although with twists and turns, the complexities that happen in real life. Is it not true that many audiences of daily soaps relate to the incidents happening on screen? Some get to learn good things from the representation while others reinforce their patriarchal ideologies that are validated by their uncritical representation. So my arguments are based on reality.
Trust in relationships: Why should women be with men whom they don’t trust?
Having said that, let me move further. In our society, it is common for wives to “control” their husbands. This is mainly so that they don’t detract and go behind another woman. But I could never wrap my head around the idea that why should a woman stay with a man whom she cannot trust? Why should she adjust with a man who tends to be infidel in a relationship? Isn’t love and trust the basic tenets of a marriage or relationship? Why should then a woman be “afraid” of or shame other women who “distract” their husband?
If we think deeper, it is easy to identify the reason behind this. Women in our society are indoctrinated with the belief that it is okay for men to get attracted to multiple women. It is a wife’s duty to concentrate his attention on herself. Moreover, women fear that if their husbands leave them or if they decide to end the marriage, they will be deprived of the security and safety that institution of marriage is supposed to provide women. This again explains why many women stay in unhappy, abusive marriages even though they lose their self-respect.
Why should the third woman alone be blamed?
Moreover, why should the blame of “distracting” fall on the third woman alone? The man who has been distracted is equally responsible for the infidelity or adultery he commits. We need to stop stereotyping women as “manipulative” who entrap married men. This kind of mindset is problematic on many levels. It undermines the importance of consent in a relationship. Moreover, it portrays men as “innocent victims” of women’s manipulative ideas with no fault or indulgence of their own.
So the point is that we need to normalise the idea of trust in relationships. If a woman doesn’t trust her husband, she should not be with him. Rather than confining herself to the idea that men are always right or men’s support is important for her security and safety, women should step out and value themselves. Because by adjusting to a relationship that has no love or trust, women end up losing their own identity and self-respect. Additionally, men should not be perceived as “innocent victims” of adultery. They are as much responsible for adultery as the woman involved in it is. Stop considering them as a man-child. It is time we equalize the way we perceive men and women involved in the complexity of adultery.
Views expressed are author’s own