Marriage is a matter of choice, not compulsion
I don’t think that because I’m not married it’s made my life any less. That old-maid myth is garbage. - Diane Keaton, Academy Award winning actress, also unmarried. Point to ponder, isn't it so? With changing times, our thought processes also must change. And change, as they say, is good.
With the times evolving as quickly as they are, with women’s rights coming into the fore front, along with a begrudging acceptance of the fact that women are in fact, not the “weaker” sex, marriage has become a choice for today’s modern woman. It is no longer part of the inevitable “plan” which charts a woman’s life from infancy, to adolescence and inevitable marital “bliss”. In India, which has seen a slow reduction in child marriages and a somewhat friendlier version of the orthodox arranged marriage, women are standing up for their rights and saying no to marriage, or are, at the very least, delaying it till they are ready to take the plunge.
Gone are the days when women, much like children, were meant to be seen and not heard. Gone also, is the doormat like attitude which is expected of a so-called virtuous female who will sacrifice her life’s ambitions in order to please her family. Welcome replacements such as further education, hobbies, business entrepreneurship, or simply, the choice to remain single, have permeated modern, urban society. The increase in the number of working women has meant additional disposable income, and much like the single ladies on “Sex and the City”, the Indian woman is making a personal choice to follow her own individual path. Increasing business ambitions have also increased the number of women in high-earning corporate jobs, and self-sustaining businesses.
A section of society is quite naturally disturbed by this phenomenon, and insists on labeling and stigmatizing those who do not follow the orthodox code of marriage. Single, unmarried women are tarred with slurs and are often subjected to various forms of abuse. Families too, are seen to be uncomfortable with female independence, and often bend their own rules so as to entice their daughter into meeting with a prospective groom; some have been known to bribe their daughters with promises on the lines of “you can have your freedom after marriage”, and “you can continue with your job after marriage”. Evidently women’s empowerment and an educated woman’s ability to make her own life choices is an unpleasant prospect to many!
It is noteworthy to see that some of the world’s most powerful women are single women who made the choice never to get married; Mother Teresa, Sushmita Sen, Coco Chanel, Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice are just a few of many path-breaking, universally-respected icons who rejected the institute of marriage, and charted their own paths instead.
Every woman, regardless of ethnicity, orientation, or religion, is entitled to make choices as to what she will do with her life and her body. Marriage is sacred, but not as sacred as the basic human rights of a person. Recognizing women as free-thinking human beings with rights constitutes the first step towards empowerment; the second involves the realization that married or not, a woman is fully capable of living her life and sustaining herself. Marriage therefore, is an option, not a compulsion for the woman of today.