SocietyFamily Why Is Marriage An Ultimatum For Women?

Why Is Marriage An Ultimatum For Women?

A man at a higher position, who has rejected the idea of marriage is looked at like a saint whereas an unmarried woman with the same status would always be the topic of gossip.

I was travelling through my usual ladies’ compartment in Mumbai local train. Two middle aged typical working women were sitting besides me. I had only three more stations to wait for, so out of curiosity I started listening to their conversation.

They were talking about some other common friend, whom they weren’t in contact with for a long time. One of them asked, “What are her kids doing now, do you have any idea?” The other lady answered, “I heard the elder son has gone abroad, and the younger son is working in a software company.” It came across that they belong to a privileged family. She continued, “Younger one had gone to Dubai for two years and now he has returned. Her daughter got married a year ago.”

I waited for more, but no other information seeped about the daughter, they shifted to a completely different topic. Train announced the next station and I had to get up. But I started thinking, how is it possible that two seemingly economically independent ‘working women’ who could do research on the complete history-geography of another woman, and who can present this complete research in the form of gossips, don’t have the data about the other woman’s daughter apart from the fact that she is married? Does this imply that ‘getting married’ is the highest possible goal that a girl can achieve?

Is ‘getting married’ the highest possible goal that a girl can achieve?

While shuffling through channels on TV, I came across a patriotism driven Sunny Deol movie The Hero: Love Story of a Spy. The scene showed the conversation between Sunny Deol (shown as a military officer) and a Kashmiri resident about his daughter Reshma’s (Preity Zinta) desire for education and their inability to pay the fees. The officer, since he is a generous hero, gives him the fees for six months and asks him to enroll her in the school.

I was happy to see this, thought this is a good message given through the movie, like Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao. But then the immediate scene showed the father being skeptical, and the hero saying, “Dekhiye aap ki achchi beti hai, padh likh jayegi to achcha ladka mil jayega” (You have a nice daughter. If she is educated she’ll get a nice groom).

Basically, according to a film from mainstream Bollywood, all the facade for a girl’s education, is ultimately aimed towards marrying her to a ‘good boy’. Actually, according to the Young Achiever’s Matrimony (which is actually Arya Vysya Elite Matrimony) for girls, even education is not a criteria to get married if they are beautiful.

We often see posts which have collage of girls in different uniforms in different fields-medical, military, science & technology, corporate sector, and many more. That portrays a very ideal society having empowered women. We can’t disagree to the fact that the number of women is rising in every field, but it’s a very deceptive illusion.

The number of female professors is high, but the number of female heads, vice chancellors or scientists is low. There is a huge difference in the number of female doctors with bachelor’s degree and specialists with MD/MS and above. We hear a lot of complains about the discrepancy in the income of female and male actors. For how many years are we going to talk about the same female CEO’s like Chanda Kocchar and Indra Nooyi? It’s clear that very few are actually at a significant or ruling position.

 An unmarried man at a higher position is looked at like a saint whereas an unmarried woman with the same status would always be the topic of gossip. 

Those few, again, are mostly from an already well established, well educated family. The girls from other less privileged communities/castes don’t always get a favorable environment for doing what they like because there are no/less boys having equivalent qualification/professional temperament.

It is a harsh reality that those who try to fight this have to be prepared to live a life full of enormous amount of mental and even physical torture. An unmarried man at a higher position is looked at like a saint whereas an unmarried woman with the same status would always be the topic of gossip, and no parents want such a life for their daughters.

Also read: Arranged Marriages And The Quest Of A ‘Suitable’ Match

Even in urban areas, 80% of the few girls who are pursuing higher education are forced to marry before they even complete the education or immediately after completion of it. This doesn’t give them any chance to explore the field or get ‘settled’ in the profession of their choice. Getting in-laws who are supportive towards their education or career is completely uncertain. In most cases, they aren’t. There are a lot of women who opt to become a housewife or go for a less demanding job.

So if a girl is  capable of being a CA, she is forced to work at a minor position in a bank and cook for the in-laws. Her parents don’t think that if she waits for a year to prepare for the exam and cracks it, her standard of life would be much better that what it is now. They don’t imagine such a future because their imagination is shrunk by the patriarchal mindset gifted by Manusmriti.

Girls are always told that whatever education or hobbies they want to pursue, they must get it while they are still in their parent’s home; after marriage there is no chance to get to do it. The institution of marriage and the facade of forced obligatory ‘joy of motherhood’ forces women to ‘adjust’ their career and eventually the entire schedule according to what her in-laws and childcare-needs demand. This also affects heavily when the children have their exams (mostly boards), where if she doesn’t take leave her motherhood is questioned.

Marriage and so called family values, make a woman’s resume look not-so-professional in the rising capitalistic environment. The private corporate organizations, or off-beat career options are thus, preferably rejected by the girl’s family because they don’t provide necessary leaves, facilities or security. Even now, the most secure jobs for women are considered to be the ones in banks, or in academic field (teaching).

Also read: The Internalized Misogyny And Casteism Of Growing Up In A Brahmin Household

People often complain that Hinduism is criticised the most, when it comes to liberal debates. But it’s the only religion where it is a sin to be unmarried – even for men, but this affects women the most. So we really need to think rationally about the need to update the ‘genre’ of religion – but in the era of declining even the Supreme Court’s decision to allow all women to enter Sabarimala, only time has the answer.

Featured Image Source: Marriage


  1. jamesdevassy says:

    Marriage is good for Both Genders▪

    • Might be, but that’s everyone’s personal choice which should not be judged or looked down upon, the problem is not marriage, but the compulsion.

    • Might be, but it’s everyone’s personal choice which should not be judged. The problem is not marriage, it’s the compulsion and conditions applied while/for getting married in India.

  2. Noah says:

    Jordan Peterson (clinical psychologist)made a video about the saw called lack of women CEOs and in STEM jobs.It has nothing to do with oppression and everything to do with the difference in biology.The assumption is that women are told to marry and make kids. But in reality most women even the exceptionally brilliant ones after excelling in colleges and in their jobs as well, find the idea working for money, building corporate empire rather meaningles. Also really is Hinduism truly the most misogynistic religion out there,you do know that the Islamic state sold women like sex slaves right

    • Amita says:

      Dear ‘Noah’, the article is specifically about the taboo about marriage, and it’s not said anywhere that Hinduism is the most misogynistic religion. Misogyny is present in every religion except for Buddhism. The point here is, in Hinduism, marriage is explicitly important to follow the religion and to perform religious tasks. It is said in the religious texts that a person has to be cremated by his son otherwise she/he’ll be born into lower caste to pay for the sin in the next birth.
      For that, the person has to be married right?
      And to study the condition in India, foreign psychological studies can’t be referred because the conditions are much more complicated/different.
      Also, the ‘biological difference’ between men and women is only of 4% according to the studies, and if you ask anyone, no woman finds the idea of ‘working for money and being independent’ repulsive.

    • gogetter says:

      I, an Indian Hindu woman, have brilliant grades in college and can’t wait to make ’em big bucks! Sounds much more meaningful to me than being married to someone not even my own choice and becoming a baby-producing machine. I don’t want that, I just wanna earn and reach the stage where I don’t need anyone financially- and then I’ll pursue the one thing that makes my life meaningful for real- travelling with my wonderful friends.

      • noah says:

        what I meant by biological differences is this,for men they can kids even in their fifties or sixties, the sperm of a healthy person is still fertile. But for a women fertility condition of the egg drops drastically with age. You can see with a vast majority of women who find it difficult to get pregnant in their mid to late thirties. So yes if you want to have a family of your own, women have to settle earlier than men. And there’s a difference between working for money and being independent. Maybe I didn’t differentiate it properly, what I ment by people who like work just for money, are those people you see in wallstreet, the finance bros(the guys who love to make a ton of money just for that materialistic lifestyle). I’m not saying all guys are like that, but studies have shown that such tendencies to be competitive for being the “alpha” is higher among men. I never said women should be dependent on men for finance, but there are different types of jobs.
        This is a video suggested by our councilors
        This is the video that I suggested in my earlier comment

        • Sugandhaa Pandey says:

          Your replies, dear ‘noah’, are so comical. You make your arguments and when someone gives good counter replies, you immediately put conditions to restrict the purview of the dialogue.

          Also Mr. Peterson is right. Men and women are biologically different, but Martha Nussbaum is also right when she says that this difference in no way suggests a discriminatory hierarchy needs to be established. Hence I would like to suggest you to read both sides of a view and only then form your argument. Form your view because you think it to be right and not because someone else told you that it’s right. Read more before anything.

          Last but not least, kudos to the author for articulating her views in such a succinct manner!

  3. I really appreciate the article ..This is something every women in India goes through this situation..But patriarchial system still so rigid and strong that we are not easily get out of it ..

  4. Agree with you , except manusmriti is not part of hinduism

  5. lucky says:

    Marriage should not become an ultimatum for girls. They should be given the oppurtunity to do what they want. Girls are often considered as burden to a family. If they are given chance they would do wonders like men. Everyone should change their thinking. Its should be her choice to study further or get married and look after the family. Thankyou for sharing the article.

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