I must, at the outset, admit that I normally do not expect to find meets on serious topics interesting. The focus\, normally, turns on one particular viewpoint of some admittedly serious flaw in Society and the discussion ends up in painting a very gloomy view of Society, which jars on a natural optimist like me. The ‘Ring the Bell’ meet in Bangalore today was a very pleasant surprise because there was a mixture of entertainment and stimulating discussion rather than a one-sided diatribe.
In contrast to the ‘Bangalore for Women’ meet, which focused on problems faced by women in their interactions with the outside world this meet was more focused on domestic violence. A mono-act ‘Durga’ was put up by the ‘Ring the Bell’ team about a woman facing her first act of domestic violence, remaining silent and, thereafter facing repeated acts of violence till one day she retaliates and is forced by Society to apologize to her husband. The discussion that arose on what she ought to have done gave rise to a very stimulating discussion.
The best solution is for the woman to strongly object to the domestic violence at the very first instance. In any relationship, there are lines that the other person is not expected to cross. This line in a marital relationship has, at least, to be drawn very firmly at physical abuse in the mind of a woman.
There are three main issues why women do not do put their foot down at the first instance of physical abuse. The foremost problem is that most women do not draw the line that cannot be crossed in their own minds. In fact, in most cases the woman is herself unsure whether she has the right to draw a line at all or whether she has to adhere to the lines drawn for her by her husband. This lack of certainty about her rights arises out of the fact that Society tends to think that it is the woman who has to fit into the contours of the relationship as desired by the man – and that thought drives the reactions of parents, relatives and neighbors to any so-called ‘rebellion’ by the woman. So, the first bell that needs to be rung for women and for Society at large is “A woman does have the right to decide the sort of relationship she wants in her marriage and, most certainly, physical abuse is NOT acceptable”
The second issue is that women are seen as relationship-builders and most women tacitly accept that it is they who will need to build relationships – with the husband and his family. In and of itself, this is a virtue but, as the saying goes, any virtue carried to excess is a vice (and one can validly argue that it takes two to build a relationship so why should one person make all the compromises). Thus, when a woman faces the first instance of physical abuse at the hands of her husband, even she thinks that she can modify her man’s behavior – the typical reaction of ‘Sati Savitri’ of the old movies of trying to change a brute into a man by the power of her love and sacrifice. Yes, there are bound to be clashes between two people trying to build a relationship but, as ever, some lines should not be crossed. So, putting your foot down on physical abuse is not a refusal to accommodate or love – but a refusal to compromise on some vital areas. If your man is worth the effort of making compromises, the least that you ought to expect is that he shall accept that you shall not compromise on some things. The only thing that compromises on everything is a doormat and I really cannot see why you would want a pair of dirty feet in the place of a husband. The next bell that needs ringing is that “Openness to compromise in order to build a relationship does not mean that you need to sacrifice your pride or your value systems.”
For a lot of women, financial security is dependent on the man. Thus, the fear of being thrown out of the house and finding parents also urging her to adjust is a reason why women do not find the confidence to put their foot down at the very beginning. This underscores the need for both education for women as well as independent financial security – either by way of a job or by way of inheritance. This also means that women need to keep their finance independent of her man, especially where she is a house-wife and has no ready means to earn her living. So, the third bell that needs ringing is “Every woman should be at least confident of living on her own without having to depend economically on the man”
As a man, I would prefer a woman to want to live with me and not have to live with me because she is afraid of Society or afraid of penury or both. I would consider anyone less than a man if he does not have the confidence to keep his wife with him without coercion of one sort of the other. So, why should any woman want to live with an imitation of a man rather than living alone?
More of this here
More of this here