Marriage is the chief vehicle for the perpetuation of the oppression of women; it is through the role of wife that the subjugation of women is maintained

Marlene Dixon

The above statement is blunt and may be true in the context of some society and particular situations. However, the ‘role of wife’ is a transformative term that changes through time. In this article, we assess the criticism of marriage as used as a tool of oppression of women.

Position of wife in social strata

In current society, the mere birth of a boy gives him the notion of self-worship, the unjust self preference over an entire half of the human race. The formation of society is patriarchal in nature and there is no doubt about it, even the two famous religion that is Muslim and Christianity have a male figure god. The Marxist and Feminist have consensus on the point that the notion of family is a tool to re-enforce patriarchy. 

Now, this patriarchy is re-enforced in the form of social conditioning where the small things amount to an ideology of oppression where the girl child is given cooking sets as toys. It is necessary here to point out the biological difference between men and women, that women are more affectionate, less psychically strong. Even if, you think from the perspective that women are better are raising children, the constant domination of patriarchy has constructed a value system, where we have ranked outdoor work more important than raising kids, there is a pink collarisation of jobs of women but have we stopped and wondered for a second why(as an individualist approach)? 

Division of Labour and Constraints on the freedom of women

Here, the constraints on the freedom of women are imposed in two forms that are the societal constraints and individual constraints. These constraints are imposed on the basis of an ideology that women are ‘less capable’ than men. To read this might be shocking in modern society, however before the Hindu Succession Amendment Act, 2005 the Karta that is the head of the family could only be a Male. Even today, there are very few families where there is a senior male figure and disregarding that the Karta is a female.

The women working in households are said not to be contributing anything to the income of the family which is vastly wrong as the work is done has a considerable amount of economic value. This is where the division of labour comes in, the marriage is constructed as such that women do household work and men go and work outside. However, the problem arises when we give importance to one task over the other.

This overtime has developed into a situation where men and valued over women due to the ability to contribute to the income of the family. This is why there are increasing cases of female infanticide

Marriage is a clear tool of oppression for women but it also limits the choice of women, as she is stuck in the rattrap of motherhood, domestic work and to fulfil society’s expectations that there is no self left. I become ‘We” in a marriage where women lose their individuality.

Way out of it

There is a need for the modernisation of the concept of marriage in the present scenario. An ideal modern marriage scenario can be laid down that is illustrative in nature. To present a broad outline of it, it should contain a gendered division of household labour (by choice and not a compulsion), choice as to marry or not ( in some society, due to low wages for women, they become dependent and have to marry a man for support), policy changes to abolish patriarchy (like the 2005 Hindu amendment act), domestic work to be factored in GDP (unpaid work is atrocity), the introduction of thealogy (to worship goddess, an idea by Carol Christ). This list remains incomplete, as the society is dynamic, the list must not be exhaustive in nature.

The meaning of ‘Ronak’ is a Hindu symbolism of ‘girl’ that means light or brightness and it is so saddening that the same is dimmed by the current society.

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