I first happened to use that derogatory term "marriage material" in a youth conference in the church. And everyone welcomed me with popping eyeballs. For once what was more alarming than the people doing the critical analysis, was the priest presiding the function. He subtly displayed his displeasure and asked me to shut up. I haven't since then attended any more of those youth conferences where in the qualities of a true Christian woman were proudly spoken of and endorsed and not much was attributed for a man.
Arranged marriages. Okie, this institution has existed like an endless era where in the similarity in socio-religious and yes even, economic backgrounds leads to the marriage.
In the modern changing times, with the advent of the internet, matrimonial websites have been booming and drawing the picture of a bride as per the reflections of the modern Indian society.
There was a time when the attention was on seeking a beautiful and educated bride while the focus nowadays, has suddenly shifted to educational and professional qualifications with the tall order of the bride to be fair skinned and pretty.
Now you know, where the obsession for fairness creams has come and why are brands like Fair and Lovely and Vicco Turmeric still blooming and staying strong.
While the guy is allowed to be wheatish or brown skinned or dark, the girl without a changeless choice has to be a guinea pig who once used fairness creams and the other beauty products marketed for promoting sexism. And yes again, now there are fairness creams for men too, in the market. The reasons for their formulation has been unknown but then again maybe for the same reasons, so that the user of such fairness creams gets a fair skinned bride.
To add to this what is more appalling is that to cope with all such pressure, many grooming schools have come up with the idea of creating courses, tailor made for a bride as per her inadequacies. In these schools, women are taught to tame themselves to be a "husband welfare organization". Right from preening herself to cooking and even lessons are given by a psychologist to survive in a marriage, mostly without an opinionated notion. They are also taught and trained to chide to the professional pressure (for all the fat pay cheques at the end of the month are also important, since that moolah will get them a more luxurious lifestyle.) and maintain a harmony with their roles as a homemaker. And sometimes she is quietly asked to leave her career ambitions or take up less challenging jobs like teaching or is asked in all nicety to be "a stay at home mom", especially when children happen.! There are ads that state this kind of a demand too, where in the bride has to be literate but must be willing to give up her profession.
The social stigma attached to a "love marriage" makes it a less preferable pick making the "booming business" of arranged marriages a more viable option.
I've always wondered while reading the matrimonial advertisements and the profiles of grooms and brides on marriage booths, as to why the chauvinistic aggression against a woman while for a man, the ball rests in his court. He has the final say. No expectations whatsoever, of being a model of moral, social and religious beliefs for most of our customs and concepts are based on the thought that a woman is made for a man.
And yes all the hue and cry about homeliness in the matrimonial ads. (Does that really mean to be able too cook everyday and with variable variety?) If one needs a good cook, shouldn't they employ them rather than marry them.
The modern day arranged marriages have converted the woman into a "high quality commodity" that should be shown off proudly on matrimonial websites and in newspapers advertisements. Today while doing this post,I remember my words on the day of the youth conference where in I strongly felt I had to detest against this corrupt form of social violence we women were being subjected to. Again I happened to talk of dowry, but let me do another post for that.
Can't the Indian parents get more realistic and humane with their expectations? The daughter's parents training her to be an emblem of greatness and the son's parents waiting in anticipation to buy such a girl to burden her with inhuman social and cultural ethos. What aches more is that the most of the educated women feel glorious about selling themselves on these money minting websites. Three blindfolds, one for the parents, one for the girl and one for the buyer. Huh!
Maybe I've been an ignorant idiot all this while that I mistakenly considered "marriage" to be a relationship which involved caring, sharing and partnership with unquestioning equality. The reality is something else. It is more of a business, isn't it.? Where in the deal is sealed with the buying of a"Picture Perfect bride"!