4. The desire for a self-confirmation of personal freedom.
Even as societies become more sexually equal, women continue to face tremendous pressures of conformity and huge burdens of responsibility. An Indian woman offered the following comment. Frankly, I think she describes this better than I could:
“I am a middle-class Indian woman who had an arranged marriage — one that is not particularly satisfying. I have realized that respectable middle-class Indian society will give me the opportunity and the space to be unfaithful, as long as I am discrete and keep up the appearance of being a chaste, devoted wife. Living as I do in a society that doesn’t offer women a lot of validation outside of marriage and motherhood, and which gives husbands a disproportionate amount of authority over wives, I find that being unfaithful is often the only way I can reclaim a little bit of my personhood. For a few hours, I can be a free being, not just someone’s wife and daughter-in-law. I wonder if there are other women like me, particularly in traditional, patriarchal societies like India’s, for whom infidelity is often a means of finding autonomous self-expression.”