When Virginia Woolf might have written about the need for a woman to have a room, a corner, a place of her own… I am not sure if she knew how relevant this idea would be for years after her.
A friend of mine who is considering divorce recently was talking about her ordeals and how she felt like an imposter, a bother in her husbands home where she lived for about 5 months after they got married.
She was told what to do when to do and during a fight, her husband threw at her face that she ate £500 worth of breakfast in that first month after their wedding. (while he ate most of it because of his manly appetite but good to blame the wife)
Unfortunately, she is not the only one, the only woman who feels like an imposter in her husbands home. This isn’t much of a surprise coming from women who are married into joint families (its the Indian family system in which the guy gets to live with entire family while the women are supposed to leave their parents homes and settle in their in-laws’ homes).
But is the freedom of a woman as restricted when she lives with just her husband, as a couple?
One woman I know tells the tales of her husband literally locking her inside their home as he feared she might go out and cheat on him. Don’t even get me started on the physical abuse and the whole ordeal of pain.
But there’s another very weird but real case.
This woman lives with her partner and they have been together for about 8 years. There is no physical abuse. They have some issues, they sometimes fight but there is no ‘fear’ of the man as such.
However, since she isn’t the earner in the house, she doesn’t have that authority. The guy feels like he can say whatever, do whatever, make rules and she is supposed to follow because he is ‘right’.
A few days ago, her partner went to see his family for about a month. Before he left, she cried in secret because she knew she was going to miss him.
When he left, she did miss him.
She felt that silence around the home and she often talked to herself out loud.
But something really weird happened that she had not expected.
She loved the freedom.
She watched whatever she liked on TV (there was no struggle like every night where he puts on blood and violence despite knowing she gets nightmares).
She cooked whatever she liked just for herself (she has to make two separate meals because her partner eats bland food so every night she first cooks for him and if there is any time left, she quickly whips up something stupid for herself, survives on junk or eats frozen leftovers because she puts him first). Being on her own was easy.
She often did not cook when she didn’t feel like and ordered food which she enjoyed eating for 2 days. There was no judgment for ordering food or rants about money wastage, it was all up to her.
Having insomnia, she sleeps at weird times and her partner being away, she was free to wake up and sleep when it naturally happened and the quietness in the house was a big factor for uninterrupted sleep.
She loved being on her own despite the few extra responsibilities.
She loves him, missed him terribly, was on the phone all the time and flew into his arms when he got back.
They spent a few very happy together and some weeks in… it was back. The rants, the small things that people don’t talk about because they are not life-altering acts but it does make a difference in the life of someone who goes through it.
Having to watch whatever you like on TV, is FREEDOM.
Having to cook anything you prefer or not cooking at all is FREEDOM.
Sleeping and waking, whenever you like, is FREEDOM.
While the majority of the women in the world are suffering from domestic abuse, lack of basic education, basic human rights, and choice, it might seem like a grand luxury to demand or dream a ‘Room Of One’s Own’ OR more sensibly a HOUSE of one’s own (because a room inside the house of a controlling man is still under his power and doesn’t have much freedom).
Since the moment an Indian baby girl is born, she is reminded constantly that her husbands home is her actual home and she is merely a temporary passerby at her parents’ home where she grows up and builds her earliest memories.
However, she is forced to leave that home and go live with her husband (and often his family) however far that may be.
Only if all this was worth it.
Only if all these sacrifices gave a woman that place where she could be free. A place where she could breathe free.
One may call it selfish and that even to live with a friend or any other human, one would have to make compromises.
I ask, why does one need to live with someone at all in that case.
To have a room/home of her own is something women are promised as soon as they are born and they die like fucking unwanted guests but they never get to live in any place that they could feel like is their own.
Single women rock this ish. I guess they got this figured.