Why Do Girls Date In Hiding?
Many girls in India have the dual identity of their private and romantic life. Even in the 21st century, women and girls have to hide to pursue their romantic interests. What is the reason that women and girls have a secret dating life?
Even before her wedding, Simran decided to keep her dating life a secret from Bawji in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Even in the age of Tinder and Bumble, women and girls of the house have to pursue their ‘chakkars’ in secret.
In popular films of the early 90s and 2000s, girls in college and schools always secretly have to find a place to meet their beau. The best friend would always be deployed as a decoy to avoid the families knowing.
Even today, in tier 2 cities where community living is still prevalent, girls have to wait at night to communicate with their partners.
If Romeo and Juliet were set in India, Shakespeare would have made the nosy aunty from the neighbourhood the villain to cause a feud in their relationship.
But why is it so?
Why do girls have to hide discreetly than boys, or both receive the same restrictions?
Of course, gender dynamics matter. Boys are encouraged to date as it is a sign of manhood to make women fall in love with them. For girls, any pre-marital relationship means that she has crossed the lines of virtue.
No wonder in the Victorian age, women were betrothed not to go dilly-dallying.
Bollywood films like Mohbbatein and Kya Kehna showed pre-marital romance is something ‘good girls’ do not do, or otherwise, they face horrible consequences.
But this was not always the case.
Before the colonial rule, India had its rich culture of premarital relationships such as of Radha and Krishna, Salim-Anarkali, Soni-Mahival. Tribal cultures followed customs where girls were allowed to test the compatibility of their partners and stay in live-in relationships.
This colonial hangover still exists and girls have to date in hiding
Here are the following reasons why:
1) Fear of Honour Killing
Films such as Sairat, NH10, and Love,Sex,aur Dhoka has acutely shown how families in upper-class society with political connections engage in honour killing. Many young girls are scared to face the brunt and meet this fatal consequence. They prefer romancing in secret rather than being dead for falling in love.
2) Their Partners Being of Other Caste and Religions
Love does not see caste or religion, but for society it matters even today. If not these two; economic statuses matter to allow the girls to date before marriage. Many girls have partners who belong to different castes, religions, and classes. This stops them from dating in the open.
Girls and women also hide their relationships because society is homophobic. Even though section 377 is repealed, our social mores make lesbian couples compunctious to divulge their relationship to their parents. In many religious societies, pre-marital homosexual relationships between two women are even more blasphemous than pre-marital heterosexual relationships. Hence, the dating in hiding continues.
4) Moral Policing
Women who indulge in pre-marital romantic relationships are viewed as immoral. They are known to be ‘ not of marriage-material’ , which leads them to date in hiding. Many political parties and groups attack young couples and publicly humiliate them; to avoid humiliation and face ostracisation from the family, girls hide their relationships before marriage.
5) Disowned from Property
When pursuing relationships before marriage, family members often threaten girls of disowning and denying them their inheritance. This fear gets even more instilled due to the lack of economic independence and awareness about women’s property rights.
There is nothing wrong with women dating before marriage. It all sums down to them having sexual relationships while dating before marriage.
Instead of prohibiting girls from dating and asking them only to jump into marriage to find love is unhealthy. Divorces in arranged marriages happen due to a lack of compatibility, and women have to bear the brunt.
Dating allows girls and boys to navigate what they want from their partners. Society is not always right, but at least women can be ready to find their romantic partners.
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