I enjoy writing. Meeting new people and hearing their stories have been both learning and fun for me. So, when I had to decide on a new topic for the next feature for WOW magazine, I wanted to cover stories of divorced women. The purpose of my writing would have been to normalise divorce and to bring out the experiences of women to tell that being divorced is only one part of their lives and they have many other feathers in their caps and just like everyone deserves to be happy, so do they. They deserve to get space and time to heal and look forward.
I knew I would need women who would be willing to speak and photographed for the piece. I understand it was hypocrisy on my part. While I wanted to normalise divorce, I was also asking women to identify themselves as a divorced person and share something very personal which was not a pleasant memory. As I was trying to do some research on the area, I stumbled upon famous Hollywood actress Katie Holmes’ thoughts in People magazine following her divorce to Tom Cruise, “I don’t have fear now. I don’t have a list of rules for myself and I don’t take myself that seriously.”
But that was from an established well-known person from the West. Perhaps it is true for many people, but it might not be true for a woman who comes from society like ours. I wanted to know about women from our society and what they went through and who all supported them and what were their biggest hurdles.
So, I talked with a few friends and asked few people to link me if they knew anyone. Finally, I was able to secure phone numbers of a few women. Since I am writing this article rather than a feature, I guess it’s understandable that I wasn’t able to bring enough number of women on the table to be interviewed. The first person I called, she was thrilled to hear that I wanted to write on the topic, but she herself was not in a position to talk about it publicly yet.
while bringing divorced men’s issues is important, we live in such a patriarchal world that it is a much harder and harsher world for divorced women than men.
The other person asked me my reason to cover only women and suggested me to do a mix bag and have both men and women. She told me thus drafting stories exclusively on women would be ostracising women further. I understood where she came from. Including only women was not only ostracising women but also not acknowledging other genders. I do really wish we lived in a society where marriage was not viewed only from heteronormative and cisgender lens. The marriage certificate in Nepal only has space for names of a husband and a wife. Many same genders, trans people and non-binary couples and their issues are still far from discussion.
So, while bringing divorced men’s issues is important, we live in such a patriarchal world that it is a much harder and harsher world for divorced women than men. Women usually are scrutinised and even blamed for their failed marriage and find it difficult to reveal their status to even their own friends and families. I have had a friend who remarried but never told her new family that she was divorced. So, for this issue I only wanted to focus on women.
The other potential person I called asked if I was sure I would be able to bring the nuances required to write such personal stories. She was right; I needed to be sensitive and nuanced. I wanted to write the story so that the experiences came out and other people could take strength from their stories. I was willing to bring the stories so that I and the readers learnt how to be sensitive towards the issue involving divorce. Perhaps, I lacked skills to convince her that I would be as nuanced as needed.
The whole idea behind wanting to do the piece was to bring authentic voices of women who were fairly established in their professional lives and had decided to have peace in their personal lives. As they say, divorce is not such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage. So, the feature would have been a dedication to those women who have had their shares of ups and downs but are trying to live life in their terms.
I know it is easier said than done. Relationships are rather complex and intricate. They not only involve two people but two families and communities. And the society we live in doesn’t show much compassion towards people who decide to end their marriages. So, I understand the reasons those women I talked to didn’t feel comfortable to be featured.
Nevertheless, I am glad that I talked to them and even if not for a feature, I was able to listen to them and their concerns. I am glad even if I cannot give faces to the people I talked to, I am able to bring some of their thoughts in this piece.