Posted by Yashda Garg
Gender, age, and body structure may appear to be three distinctive aspects of one’s identity. However, when it comes to normative relationships, they come together to stifle your options and preferences. A woman who has her age, weight, and height greater than that of her male counterpart is certainly inexplicable in the social arena. Surprisingly, even today, when the taboo topics are being discussed, these factors are blindly accepted as imperative by millions.
The Nuances Of Age Gap
“Whoa! She married a younger man” is quite a normalised piece of expression to digest for the masses. What we, as a society, fail to realise is the veiled patriarchal code beneath the simple blend of words. Surprisingly, this is not even an issue when the age gap is in the other direction wherein women are younger, as that has been a norm for years now. The unwritten social code, in turn, directs that women ‘must’ be younger than men.
Interestingly, in a relationship where two genders are involved, only women unknowingly carry the ‘blame’ for dating younger men. This is reflected in the fact that we often go on to stigmatise the women who have sexual relationships with younger men. The stigmatisation happens in the form of various names we use for such women. From milfs to cougars, we have come up with a whole lot of slangulary to type caste them. However, the patriarchal system literally wears the cape of hypocrisy when we keep men in such relationships label- free which is only an absurd conformation to the idea that men will be men.
By stereotyping these women we are only asserting that it is unacceptable for women to have sexual or romantic desires at all after a certain age and it is even more ‘ridiculous’ if the women beyond a certain age have sex with younger men. All in all, according to the social ‘rule book’ there is an expiry date of female sexuality or whatever is ‘allowed’ of it.
The Height-Weight Imbalance
“I wish you were shorter than me. Cut your legs a little and be my mistress.”
Yes, this is indeed something which one of my friends got to hear in her college days. The underlying misogyny in the statement clearly asserted how inappropriate it was for a woman to be tall and how it made it impossible for shorter tragic heroes to date her. It was at that time when I realised the role physical structure and appearance play in relationships.
While it is important for a woman to be younger than her male counterpart, it is imperative for her to actually appear younger and smaller than her male partner. The whole concept of the ‘perfect pair’ or a ‘match made in heaven’ is based on the appearance of the couple where the male is supposed to be muscular and tall while the female is supposed to be thin and tiny. In fact, the women who are as tall as their male partners often wipe heels out of their shoe rack in order to avoid becoming a subject of humor or embarrassing their male partner.
Moreover, if you look into the local matrimonial advertisements, the ‘demand’ of thin and slim women in the matrimonial market has always been at its peak. It is so significant that people end up using a whole line of the diminutive advertisement box to state that they want a slim bride. Not only does this demand foster the regressive ideology, but it has also been putting women in a subordinate position.
The Infantilising Charade
By looking into the matter keenly, it does become clear that the aforesaid parameters are cautiously crafted to infantilise women. The intended infantalisation, in turn, marks the idea of taming and rearing of an entire gender. The desired appearance and age gap may appear to be insignificant at a surface level, but they indeed determine the position of men and women in the social hierarchy. These socially acceptable guidelines for heterosexual couples out rightly put women in a weaker position.
While being in a shell, the invisible oppression which women face takes such a form that they themselves tend to normalise and even advocate these guidelines. While men are conditioned to fall for the thin maidens, women are conditioned not to accept themselves for who they are until they fall into the social guidelines.
The Deconstruction Exigency
As you delve deeper into the issue, you realise that not only is this structure meant to suppress female sexuality, but it has also kept us in a shell so dark that we have turned a blind eye towards the myriad possibilities in relationships. If we take out the layers of the norms, the factors such as age and height are, in fact, entirely redundant.
As a matter of fact, age shaming and body shaming are constructed practices which now need to be deconstructed entirely.
Yashda Garg is a feminist author based in Faridabad. She has written a fiction novel, numerous articles, poems and short short stories. Her latest book Gender and Gyves revolves around the gender issues prevalent in the society.
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