Mains Answer Writing
- Social and economic inequalities between genders have been perpetuated by patriarchal structures and social norms that privilege men over women. The social and economic inequalities have a profound impact on marital ties.
The social inequality shapes power relations within marriage in the following ways:
- Division of Labour: Social norms dictate that women should be responsible for domestic work, while men should provide financial support as the family’s breadwinner. This creates a power imbalance as men control the economic resources, while women are confined to domestic responsibilities.
- Toxic Masculinity: Man is expected to be the head of the household, make important decisions, and exercise control over wife. Showing empathy, compassion etc. are considered signs of weakness for a man.
- Double burden of Women’s work: Patriarchal expectation from woman to serve the husband and the in-laws turns the working woman’s domestic work into ‘a second shift.’ Many women quit their jobs as a result.
The economic inequality shapes power relations within marriage in the following ways:
- Pay Disparity: As men tend to earn more than women, they end up controlling the overall economic resources and decision-making.
- Unpaid Care Work:
- a) Women are often responsible for unpaid care work, such as childcare and elderly care etc. This limits their ability to engage in paid work and ownership of economic resources.
- b) Care work could cause mental and emotional distress for the woman from which the man remains shielded.
- Abandonment: Women who challenge patriarchal power structures within their marriages risk being abandoned by in-laws. They could be ostracized by society and suffer social stigma.
The power imbalance within marriage has following consequences:
- Disease Burden: Patriarchal traditions such as women being the last to eat after serving the men translates into insufficient nutrition for women. It leads to problems like anaemia, maternal mortality, etc.
- Domestic Violence: The wife faces emotional and physical abuse in the form of loneliness and depression, apart from domestic violence. Marital rape results from the social expectation to satisfy the husband’s sexual needs, regardless of woman’s own desires or consent.
- Limited Opportunities: Women are constricted in terms of opportunities for personal and professional growth as their aspirations and interests remain suppressed.
- Gender Inequality: The perpetuation of gender inequalities within marriage perpetuates gender inequality at a broader level within society and across generations. E.g., in gender attitudes of children who absorb patriarchal norms through cultural osmosis.
It is important to address the social and economic inequalities between genders through concerted efforts of government, businesses, individuals, and society. This will not only improve women’s lives and marital bonds but also create a more just and equitable society for all.
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