The prejudice against moving on

The prejudice against moving on

Just as Pawan Kalyan’s ex-wife Renu Desai shared news of her engagement on social media, good wishes did trickle in for her in large numbers. But not...

Just as Pawan Kalyan’s ex-wife Renu Desai shared news of her engagement on social media, good wishes did trickle in for her in large numbers. But not very surprisingly, what also followed was several fans, both men and women, unleashing themselves on to her for “making the wrong decision” by starting off a new phase in life. So vexed was she that she decided to quit Twitter unable to take the negative energy. On Instagram, she shared several of the negative comments and messages she received in her stories.

“Madam second marriage chesukokandi, please. Single ga undi chala women life lead chesaru, meeru second marriage chesukoni bad avvakandi. Please, please second marriage cheskokandi, ala cheste meeku, bayatavallaki theda emundadu (sic),” was a message she received. Here’s a rough translation: “Madam please don’t get remarried.

Many women are leading their lives perfectly normally while being single. Don’t become bad by remarrying. If you do, then what will be the difference between you and outsiders?” This particular message, alongside many other messages she received, shows a very dirty side of our society – the side where a woman proceeding to take a step into a new life is considered a negative thing.

The law, clearly stating that both men and women have an equal standing in a divorce, allows any person to get remarried once they are officially divorced, which is the case for Pawan Kalyan and Renu Desai, who separated several years ago. What’s more, Pawan not only got remarried eventually but also has two kids from his new relationship.

And that brings us to the matter at hand – that of the ingrained prejudice and the resultant moral policing that a woman faces majorly because as a society we are patriarchal in our setup. Both the people involved in this incident are celebrities and so a debate has come about as to what is right or wrong. But the underlining statement is that despite being married thrice, Pawan Kalyan has never faced the kind of harassment that Renu has been subjected to in the past few weeks since the announcement.

Elaborating on the same, celebrity stylist and costume designer Indrakshi Pattanaik, who had to face some tough times after her divorce with actor Brahmaji’s son Sanjay was reported widely on Telugu news websites, some of them passing judgements on her, says, “A divorce and separation is hard on two families. The last thing they need is someone else’s opinion or judgement. When a man gets divorced, he easily becomes a single man – back in the market!

When a woman gets divorced the tag she gets is first “a divorcee”. She’s looked down upon, stared at, uninvited suddenly for a couple of events. Well, that list is going to be very long.”

Indrakshi does provide a strong case for the social stigma there is surrounding a “second relationship” that a woman pursues.

In fact, any young girl will tell you how she has often been told off and been bullied, often by girlfriends too, for breaking up with a boy and pursuing a new relationship. The terms like “slut”, “bitch”, “she’s easy”, “loose character” and many other such demeaning phrases are common to hear.

Shweta Watson, a model and journalist, talks about how this entire concept of judging a woman for not doing things as is the “norm” should stop and shares, “It's high time people change their attitude towards women. Just look at people trolling Priyanka Chopra for dating Nick Jonas because he is younger. Almost every other man marries younger women! We should create awareness.

Also, women should step forward boldly, stand up for themselves and just do what makes them happy. The fact that people find it okay that Pawan Kalyan has married thrice but are bashing his ex-wife Renu Desai for pursuing a second relationship, shows how patriarchal our society is. We’ve seen fans congratulating and appreciating Pawan for having children again too, but they judge Renu for remarrying again!”

Even as families come in support occasionally, there are times when that’s not the case. Look at the case of Prashant Vihari’s cousin Sushma Valluri (both names changed upon request). Prashant shares, “My cousin became a widow at the age of 42 and it has been three years since. She is independent and earns her own money. She is a single mother and independently handles her house.

Yet, if she even speaks to a man, she is often subject to judgment. People always look at her from a moral high ground, at times moving her to tears. On the other hand, another male relative was widowed and it was hardly a year before people started asking him to find a companion, and were eager to get him remarried. I can’t help but notice this double standard when it comes to women who look for companionship after a divorce or widowed even today in what we call a developed society.”

What people do not seem to understand is that a decision to move on is quite a big one for both parties involved. And in the Indian scenario, it becomes tougher for a woman because of the chauvinist attitudes of the society. It’s no wonder then that practices like Sati or the eventual segregation of widowed women from the ways of the world were an acceptable practice.

It took several decades and a lot of lost battles to fight these social vices, which were a bane to women. Sadly, many a time, women themselves seem to approve of it because it has so hardly been washed into their brain that they are supposed to live a certain way because that’s what’s expected of them.

Indrakshi recounts, “It’s horrible to watch women making another women’s private life and divorce a reason to gossip, they usually blame the women for opting out of the marriage, that she didn’t think about her family/children, and suddenly that women also becomes a person to avoid in social circles. This whole experience can be so difficult.”

And with all this to take, moving on can be a tough choice. “Moving on from a relationship affects you emotionally, physically and financially, more so for a woman as a lot of people still think woman need not have the choice to move on. However, it is the loss of hope in an existing relation, that gives the courage to come out of the same. Having gone through this personally, I am fully convinced that it is the will to move ahead and courage to accept the situation that helps.

It takes a lot of effort and resolve to face people’s negativity and yet be empathetic to their points of view. While the love for yourself helps you heal faster, acceptance of the situation that you can only spread happiness if you are happy. I am quite fortunate that despite being from a conservative background, my parents and brother stood with me during my testing times while helping to come out of it.

They pushed me to pursue a second chance to live happily,” shares Sireesha Pandravada, a working professional from Hyderabad, who got remarried to Aravind. She had to go through a lot in her first relationship but she eventually found not just companionship but also a great deal of love from her new family. The couple now has a daughter and what Sireesha loves most about her life is the “moral support that friends and family” provided through the tough times.

And to lay it on the line, love has no time frame, nor does it know the norms of the society. “Women too can find love at any point in their lives and we should start normalising it in our country. Women like Meghan Markle, Kim Kardashian-West and Nicole Kidman have happily remarried and the world celebrated with them,” she says.

Indrakshi concurs, “Even a woman deserves a second chance in love and a better life. And in the end, it’s really nobody’s business except the two people who can’t be happy together anymore and choose to move on. And like the hurdles in life, one must move forward, and choose happiness over anything else.”

By: Pranita Jonnalagedda

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