Many times we see smart and strong women, who take a stand for others and are quite vocal about women-related issues, remain mute when their husband is involved in any kind of harassment or abuse or inappropriate behaviour. A classic example of this is Twinkle Khanna, aka Mrs Funnybones who shreds people to pieces in her columns, but hasn’t reacted at all to the Akshay-Mallika Dua incident.
Hillary Clinton, who even ran for the US Presidential elections, did not comment on the Lewinsky scandal. Or when former first lady Barbara Bush remained tight-lipped after two actresses accused former US President George Bush Senior of sexual assault. The most recent to join the bandwagon is cricketer Chris Gayle’s wife Natasha Berridge, who hasn’t yet commented on the ongoing issue of a massage therapist Leanne Russell accusing Chris of inappropriate behaviour.
“While one is obviously inclined to look at one’s own with more leniency, it is important to be mindful that you cannot have one set of standards for the rest of the world and a separate moral code for your husband,” explains well-known relationship expert Nisha Jamvwal, adding, “Women must stand in solidarity and condemn the injustices of all kinds towards their fellow sex. I think if people take on greater personal responsibility and put aside the apathy generally seen when incidents involve our own, the malaise could be dealt with better. It would be ideal when women whose own husbands have behaved like Mr Clinton did with Monica, could literally speak up.”
Actress Zarina Wahab didn’t comment about her husband Aditya Pancholi, even after repeated accusations from Kangana Ranaut. Instead, they threatened to file a defamation case. There are many such examples where the wives, turn a blind eye when their husband is involved.
Sharing her view, Dr Lakshmi C., a faculty member of Sociology at the University of Hyderabad, says, “The simple answer to this is that it could be the woman trying to protect her relationship and family. Another way of understanding is, we need to recognise that the system of patriarchy runs very deep in society and sometimes women themselves are propagators of patriarchy. Hence, many times what a man does goes unnoticed. So in a camouflaged way, it is patriarchy that is being promoted.” She adds, “Until a crisis comes to them, many individuals react differently. The values system for others and for their own selves would vary. To say that women should not be abused in any way is very easy. However, when it affects an individual and that too a woman herself, it gets difficult to take a stand, especially when she is under pressure.”
While it is true that standing with each other during difficult times strengthen relationships, supporting one’s husband while he misbehaves with other women would only affect a relationship adversely.
Psychologist and relationship counsellor, Richa Khetawat, explains that many times people feel empowered by standing up for a cause in public. However, when it touches their personal lives they cannot feel the same way as they do not relate to those causes personally. “It’s easier to speak objectively and perhaps also fight for causes when you are not facing consequences directly. It satisfies you intellectually as well as emotionally. It also gives you a sense of completeness. In some cases, like with Twinkle Khanna, it perhaps also satisfies her creatively as she is able to reach a larger audience through her books. But on the other hand, when the person in question is your loved one, it certainly changes the whole perspective on what is right and wrong. Then the line between acceptable and unacceptable becomes thinner and dwindles as you negotiate with what has happened and try and empathise with your husband/boyfriend/lover and also try to see things from his perspective,” she says.