The traditional norms of family where men were the sole providers for the family while women were into domestic chores has become unpopular in today’s world. However the, society and male spouses still expect them to be higher earning than the female spouse. As a study interprets, “These findings suggest that the partner pay gap is reinforced or supported by male breadwinning norms.”(Gash). Even though many gender-related biases have declined in the family system, the male spouse is still threatened when the female spouse outperforms them, especially in career.
“Men who believed their partner scored in the top 12 percent demonstrated significantly lower implicit self-esteem than men who believed their partner scored in the bottom 12 percent.” (MSMAGAZINE)
As a gender studies student, one plausible explanation for this threat could be insecurity.
The male spouse becomes reasonably concerned that his partner might seek out a more successful man. This decline in self-esteem is caused not only by the male spouse’s comparison with his partner but also with other higher-status men. This insecurity arises as the fragile male ego gets hurt due to their incapability to fulfill the gender roles provided by society. As the female spouse challenges the traditional stereotype that women are less competent, successful, intelligent, and strong than their male partners. The man interprets his female partners success, a situation that is foreign to many men, as his own failure.
Bollywood and Stereotypical Gender Roles
Even today, these gender stereotypes are evident in the media. For instance Jugjugg jeeyo ; a Bollywood movie released in 2022. The plot revolves around the life of Naina, who holds a high paying corporate position in a multi-national company, and her husband, Kukkoo, a bouncer at a nightclub. Despite Naina’s higher financial contribution to the family, she also did the household chores as an ideal wife. However, kukkoo is so insecure of Naina’s career that things escalate to divorce. He openly confessed that he is jealous of his wife’s success as he is left behind. Double entanglement, doing and undoing of feminism is a common media theme. In the clip below, Naina is given some authority as she speaks up for herself. However, the movie ends with Naina ratifying the traditional gender norms as she still accepts Kukkoo despite his unsupportive behaviour for almost 5 years.
The film has two sides:
First: It reinforces the gender roles that more successful female spouses cannot manage their married life properly. And marriages fail when the gender roles are reversed.
Second: The divorce stigma, Kukkoo’s toxic male supremacy is evident throughout the movie, and Naina appears to be unhappy with her married life. Kukkoo couldn’t support Naina at her success, but when he apologized at the divorce court, Naina accepted him. This reinforces the divorce stigma and how women shall accept their male spouses despite their unsupportive behavior and toxic male supremacy.
Even in 21st century , a stereotypical film like JugJugg Jeeyo grossed US$17 million , why is the audience still playing a part in making such movies blockbuster?