Still A Commodity!
A society can be understood in different ways… it depends on the colour of the spectacles through which one wishes to look at the society. The advertisements in leading broadsheets related to matrimony form one such yardstick to judge the status of women (and also men) in the (Indian) society! Although the Indian society has experienced so many changes in the last seven decades, the price or value of women in the marriage market remains almost the same….
Once, the financial situation of a girl’s family, and their social recognition or reputation used to play a major role in matrimonial alliances. Nowadays, the complexion of a girl, and not her educational qualification, becomes a decisive factor!
The modern day Indian men prefer Fair, Slim, Beautiful and Educated brides, while the brides’ parents mention (in Matrimonial Advertisements) that their daughters are beautiful, the only child, with own residences! May the Nation marches towards continual prosperity and the number of educated people may always be in increase… but, women still remain a product when it comes to marriage! And, the price or value of the product depends on its (read her) beauty. Irrespective of the qualification of the groom, the bride has to be really beautiful. For men, the concept of really beautiful depends solely on the girl’s skin colour, and not on her culture, etiquette, qualities, education, and aesthetic senses!
If the girl is not fair, or if she becomes 35, or if she is a divorcee with a child, then the level of helplessness increases in the language of advertisements! In that case, the bride’s family tries to compensate the drawback by mentioning that the girl is a working lady or she has her own property or her father is an ex-official of a reputed organisation! In many cases, those girls agree to marry an aged person or a widower…
Marriages, through such advertisements, often lead to a dissatisfied conjugal life. Sociologists are of the opinion that such a colorful arrangement ultimately suppresses the bride’s (and also the groom’s) own selves. As per a study, the most wanted brides in the Indian society are those having fair complexion! The skin colours of the would-be-brides are clearly mentioned in 60% of advertisements. Only in 13% of cases, it is mentioned that the girl is not so fair. And in 47% of the advertisements, various adjectives – like extremely beautiful, beautiful in a true sense etc. – have been used to highlight the beauty of girls!
On the other hand, there are a few examples of girls demanding handsome professionals! It means both the parties believe that girls should be beautiful! In 86% of advertisements, tall and slim become the basic features for a suitable bride. Another yardstick is healthy. However, it is not clear what the groom’s family wants to mean by the word healthy. Only in 5-12% cases, the groom’s family mentions that they need a polite, gentle and elegant bride.
People do not give much importance to the mental match between the brides and grooms in India and other South Asian countries. As a result, such marriages have some negative consequences in near future. Moreover, short, dusky, fat and the not-so-beautiful girls become the victims of the existing (Patriarchal) social system. No one tries to understand their minds. They do not have value in this social bargaining. Irrespective of their educational qualifications, qualities and wealth, these girls seemingly lack social value!
Every year, we mark March 8 and November 25 as International Women’s Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, respectively. However, there is no change in the mentality of the society towards women (especially in the Developing Nations). These societies still consider women as marriage materials!
Perhaps, we need another 500 years to learn how to respect women, if humankind gets to survive that long on the Mother Earth!
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