How often have we, as women, heard from our families, relatives, or society that it’s “time” to get married, as it’s the “appropriate age” now. Independent and Women are two words that seem to be disjointed according to societal rule. Whereas men are comparatively less pressurized to marry by 25, that is decided as the most suitable age to tie the knot for womenfolk.
What’s hilarious that we tend to ‘blame’ it on western culture, the decision to adapt the career-before-marriage or no-marriage decision. These decisions are seen as a too modern, or new era, or Gen Y thought process, but the reality is this is nothing new. There were women whose names were written in history, successful, happy, and above all “unmarried.”
Six Women Who Broke the Monotony of Marriage
Born in 1775, the queen of irony, an English author from the Georgian Era, was the seventh of eight children. She belonged to an era where writing was viewed as a man’s work, and most female authors wrote anonymously. Although she didn’t even earn as much as an average full-time fiction writer does in a year, she knew her career was the topmost priority. She was never married.
Born in 1902, Barbara McClintock was a Nobel prize winner in Physiology. She never married, as she chose to devote her life to research instead. She was a careerist whose family had little money. They thought it was important for her to marry, and her interest in research was viewed with skepticism.
Born in 1929, Lata Mangeshkar was also called Swar Kokila / The Nightingale and Queen of melody. She started her career when she was only 13 years old, right after her father’s demise as she was the sole breadwinner in her family. She was the first Indian singer to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Lata Mangeshkar was awarded Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and was also the recipient of the prestigious Bharat Ratna. Her marital status remains unmarried.
Born in 1947, an American scientist and animal behaviorist was diagnosed with autism when she was very little and when the cause and cure for autism were unclear. Today Temple Grandin is a leading advocate for autistic communities, has also written books, and provides consultation on the humane treatment of animals. She remained unmarried and became a degree holder in psychology, doctoral, and master’s in animal science and is known for her animal welfare, neurology, and philosophy work.
Born in 1954, Bachendri Pal is an Indian mountaineer and the first Indian woman to climb the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest. She faced opposition from her family and relatives, who pressured her to get married to lessen their financial burden. But still, she decided to pursue her career as a professional mountain climber and asked the director of the National Adventure Foundation to generate employment opportunities for underprivileged mountaineers. She chose not to get married. She was awarded a gold medal for excellence in mountaineering, Padamshree, listed in Guinness Book of World Records, etc.
Born in 1990, Laxmi Agarwal is an activist and motivational speaker. She is an acid attack survivor and is a campaigner for ‘Stop Sale Acid.’ Laxmi did fall in love but decided not to marry to challenge the taboos of Indian society and stayed in a live-in relationship with the man she loved, who is also the father of her daughter. She also started an organization for acid attack victims, The Laxmi Foundation. She was honored with the International Women of Courage award.
These are some of the women who have broken the monotony and taboo about marriage, went against the conventional path, and chose a career for a lifetime.
A Peek into My Side of The World
“How, according to the Indian culture, marriage is equal to life-long stability, satisfaction, protection, the only way to have children, happiness, security?
Will the society hold the ruins of future of women in their hands if none of it turns out to be true?”
“What are your plans for future? I mean do you have any plans to marry or not? You are turning 25 soon.”
This is one of the most dreaded conversations by women. Belonging to a family of doctors, engineers, chefs, and architects, I was asked the same question from a Pandit who believed that choosing to remain unmarried is adopting western culture, and career can take the lead after marriage and kids too.
Luckily, my family believes having a career is more important than having a partner whose career one has to stay dependent upon. But when I turned 21, my father asked my mother to find a suitable boy as matrimony seemed more important to him. He was the only person in the family who raised this topic. It shook me to see someone as educated as him raise a concern like marriage to me, probably to avoid the financial burden.
No pressure was put on me, but the very thought that I was nearing the age of marriage and I was a part of this race built an urge to break the monotonous cycle of it. I often wonder about the women who are put under constant pressure and taunts and how traumatizing it must be for them to see the sudden towering expectations of wedding and kids while watching all their life plans flow down the drain.
My Views on Ringing Wedding Bells
I believe having a wedding and tying the knot doesn’t bring marriage into play. Marriage requires acceptance and a willingness to settle down with a life partner and not a deadline or a timeline that has to be hurriedly met. It is a choice, not a necessity. It is the bonding of two souls, not a contract to sign at the age of 25. It’s horrifying enough to see women not having a choice between career and marriage. If luckily not 25, then 30 is the age limit set by the family, society, even so-called friends, for women folk to get married. It’s more of a compulsion than building a new life. To my surprise, up to an extent, our forefathers knew that marriage was looked upon as a contract, and as we started growing, the names for the word “contract” changed, but the view didn’t.
Marriage isn’t a taboo or a mistake, but it also doesn’t come with rules. The rules set by conservative and prosaic views of the society, in general, can be put in bits and pieces by the new rules you make as an individual, through your point of view, as per your stability and understanding of the term.
I am willing and ready to break some rules, are you?
Just When You Caught Them in the Act
“Sure, we say the world is changing but is it? Or is it just putting dust on old ways and building new ones to develop the very same concept but in different ways?”
“Of course, you can work after marriage. We will allow you to work, but family is also important, so you may have to multi-task. Career can be attended a bit later, focus on your family first, we are not refusing you to work, we are just asking you to postpone the idea.”
This is the new ideology of society. ‘Permitting’ to work but figuring out ways to postpone it.
I would rather procure a life that gives me mental stability than have society decide what financial, mental, and life stability, security, and happiness should look like for me. It’s true when they say, “It’s easier said than done.” It’s easy to say that the man of my dreams will be set to meet me at the age of 25, but it seems unlikely that the career of my dreams will be achieved during the journey of this beautiful life, and my Prince Charming will stick with me through thick and thin, and be there till death do us apart. It’s easy to capture the bird in a cage, but can you expect it not to spread its wings wide and fly away once freed?
Choosing a career shouldn’t be an option but a priority. Married or unmarried, follow your timeline at your own pace. Build your own life before you build someone else’s. Be responsible for yourself before you choose to have responsibilities. Build yourself, not this busy-in-the-race society.