#Opinion

Why Are Women Silent Partners In Relationships?

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Women silent partners in relationships: When Amrita of Thappad said that she continued to ignore many inequalities that she faced in the marriage, many questions raised in my mind.

Are women ever conditioned to be expressive in their relationships? Are women ever expected to voice out their opinions, desires and resistance? Aren’t women told to be quiet, suffer in silence and sacrifice to be counted as a good companion? How long will women be silent partners in relationships?

We have grown up watching movies in which it was normal and decent for a woman to not be outspoken in their relationships. Bollywood has played a major role in romanticising this silence among women, whether it is about their choices, sexual desires or injustices. Again, when I say movies I do not mean that it doesn’t happen in real life.

Yes, there is a divide between screens and reality but then do not forget that the common thread connecting the two is the human experience. Films are born out of the human experience. So, if women’s silence is normalised in films, it is a representation of the society that we live in.

Why aren’t women expressive in relationships?

Just look around yourself and question, do women feel free to express their choices and desires to their partners? Whether it is about their career, sexuality or daily lives, do women find it easy to be expressive? In our society silence has been defined as synonymous with womanhood.

It is a norm for women to be silent partners in relationships by sacrificing their choices or living them vicariously through their male counterparts. This is one of the major reasons why women choose to rather adjust to loveless, sexless and abusive marriages rather than choosing to speak up.

India tops in the rate of domestic violence reported by women in a year. But even more saddening is the fact that despite a high number of reported domestic violence cases, there are many which are never allowed to go outside the four walls of a house.

Women suffer in silence while many die by suicide, as a report of 2018 showed that housewives who faced domestic violence and dowry harassment accounted for the second-largest number of suicide cases in India. But rarely do women choose the path of raising their voice and walking out of the marriage which is again visible in the statistics of divorces in our country which stands at a dismal rate of 1 per cent. Doesn’t this point out a deafening silence among women in relationships? Doesn’t this point out a lack of women’s agency and freedom to speak within marriages or relationships?

Living a secretive life of choices: why should women undergo such difficulties?

While other women get used to living a secretive life that allows them the freedom of living their choices but at the cost of unwanted lies that often makes their relationships sour. Remember when Dolly in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare indulges in a secret affair to fulfil her sexual desires which she could not express in front of her husband? Dolly is a prototype of many such women who are forced to sacrifice their desires and choices to preserve their honour and the relationship.

This is true not only in the case of married women. But unmarried women too are expected to sew their lips and never voice out their choices, desires and resistance in front of their fathers or brothers. They are forced to either remain quiet throughout their life or live a secretive life, built out of lies, under the fear of being caught and outcasted by the family. Ask yourself, is it fair that women should undergo such tribulations just to live a life as per their choices? Why is it not normal for a woman to stand by their choices and refuse to budge? Who is to be blamed for this self-imposed silence? Women themselves or their patriarchal conditioning?

Women silent partners in relationships? Time to redefine women’s role

What we need to question is that why a relationship should be affected by the outspokenness of a woman? Why should relationships be built on the toxic idea of women’s silence and sacrifice? Do we question men for being expressive in relationships? No. Rather, they have the freedom to not only express love and desire but rage also and that too in a negative manner.

Even then, their right to expression goes unquestioned. It is about time now that we change the way we understand women’s role in relationships. Rather than forcing them to be silent partners in relationships, women should be free and expressive. Their outspokenness should be seen as a necessity to build a strong relationship rather than a reason to break it.