1) The Pretty Obligation
If you are conventionally pretty: ie if you have any or more of the following features:
3) sharp nose
4) ‘coloured’ eyes ( aren’t all eyes coloured?)
5) ‘coloured’ hair
or any features that are associated with the people who colonised us, then you have the grave responsibility on society and your community as a whole:
what about all those poor girls who haven’t been bestowed with these features and these godly looks? how can you reject ‘good’ proposals at the tender age of 17 ( when legally, you aren’t allowed to… operate a vehicle. donate blood. get a tattoo. skydive. rent an apartment. Okay, you get the picture.) when other people cannot?
It is your god bestowed duty on your face, waist size, good education and conventionally beautiful features to get hitched quickly. It is almost like the time when you waste food and your parents rebuke you, giving you the example of other kids your age who don’t get their daily bread without an effort. While that example is valid, the same analogy cannot be applied anywhere.
Me, getting married/ engaged to the first foreign degree holding, fairly good looking ( doesn’t matter if I’m attracted to the other person or not, looks hold a valid place only in the boy’s criteria) , bonus if he is an only child, bonus if he doesn’t have any siblings… honestly i think, the best person to get married to in our community is an orphan. This is the obligation upon me, by patriarchy itself. 🙂
These are the same people who tell young, married woman to quickly pop out kids like nothing, giving references to people who unfortunately cannot have kids. As if one cancels out or aids the other in some weird manner.
2) The Education Equilibrium:
Now now, my most favourite math.
In South Asian society, surprisingly even now, exist some communities wherein a girl’s education is like the sweet zaika of a dish, very tailor made, and if you don’t switch off the cooker at the right time, there goes the dish.
Similarly, a girl who’s getting educated is GREAT! ( boys want educated girls these days, no?”)
And how can the girl not finish her graduation? How will her future kids gain admission in the top notch, high end, almost brand name worthy schools if she’s not even a graduate?
Basically, a girl’s education is used for two things: her husband, and her children. Anything for herself is not allowed unless she’s engaged to be married and her husband supports her.
If her husband supports her career: ( this could be in something unconventional, rather than what everyone seems to be doing/ or that is socially acceptable and common)
…then you guessed it. He’s whipped/ simp/ ‘joru ka gulaam’/ etc. Or he could be, you know, broke. 🙂
3) The C-Word
Indian Matchmaking on Netflix has thankfully highlighted a very significant word attached to the arrange marriage scenario in India- or South Asian culture- compromise.
Now it is a given fact that in any relationship, or for any relationship to work- ( this does not even apply to only romantic relationships, it applies to ALL relationships, be it friendship, the one you have with your parents, siblings, coworkers, etc) compromise is an omnipresent quality, whether done intentionally or even done habitually.
That is not the issue. That, my friends, is obvious.
The issue arises when the minute the proposal arrives, and the first advice that is given is compromise. Compromise, honestly, is OVERRATED. Yeah there, I said it.
So are ‘sacrifices’ or any other word that has a hero complex attached to it.
And here, I’ll tell you why- any human being- one who genuinely wants a relationship to work or form in the first place- naturally- and almost organically compromises whatever they can- that is, whatever is most convenient to them, or whatever that they can afford to compromise on- without compromising their value, self respect ( for some, sadly, even self respect is worth compromising on) and for some, ego. ( likewise, some don’t even compromise on their ego. Sadly. 🙂)
In many cases wherein arrange marriages are bound to happen, that godforsaken word is the first thing uttered by many uncles and aunties. It’s a bit like google ad marketing. You utter ‘marriage’, and there it is, first in the search results. Showing up in the instagram/facebook ads. Popping up on pinterest. And you sit there, confused and horrified as to how everyone- EVERYONE in the south asian community knows the same love language. (arranged marriage language?).
This applies mostly to women ( fire me for it all you want- but this is dished out mostly to women first.) Not that it isn’t to men- but at a much lesser scale.
And also because for centuries- women empowerment has been a conversation, slowly progressing. However the sneakiest things misogynists have done is to mask the idea of a forever ‘ sacrificing’,/ ‘compromising’ women in to the realm of women empowerment itself- almost hailing them into a superhuman form- which is actually NOT woman empowerment. *gasp*!
Yeah no, it is a sneaky way of making women guilty, and setting such high standards for them . It is a way of infusing a hero complex, a sacrifice complex in them so that they keep their needs after everyone else’s anyway, believing its the herioc thing to do. Believing that just because the process of childbirth and rearing is dolled out to them by nature, their entire life has to be only about that- sacrifice. And nothing else. It is to keep them into servitude, and to keep the odds out of their favour anyway, only with a little manipulation, and a few gaslighting techniques.
Drifted there a bit, but that’s precisely what happens.
Does that mean you don’t have to compromise? No.
It just means that human beings- are very naturally gifted at figuring out the pros and cons of a particular proposal all by themselves- if they know themselves well. They know exactly what they can tolerate, what they like, dislike, love, hate, etc.
A logical and rational person will give up the few things he can absolutely live without, only to acquire a few things that he cannot imagine without living. Microeconomics- anyone?
Now think of these things not as material things, but human behaviour and traits. Think- romantic, spendthrift, penny pinchers, rude, arrogant, nice, altruistic, rational, dreamers, extrovert, introvert, geeks, nerds, readers, do-ers. Innumerable choices, yet we have specifics for alot of these.
My point? You will most likely, naturally compromise on the things you can afford to, if presented with the other idealistic things suited to your tastes.
And so it is just important for you to figure out either, or both of the two:
1) What you absolutely want.
2) What you absolutely don’t want.
Yes, mathematically, it’s as simple as that. And then you take in your gut feelings, instincts, values and all of that.
And the next time any uncle or aunty, without you asking them to, doles out the C-word, ask them with the most innocent expression you can muster, whether they will be willing to compromise on *gasp*! – caste. 🤔
There will be a part two. ( Jokes on you if you thought it just ends here🤷)
I will also try and incorporate the a man’s perspective in the second part, for representation purposes. Stay tuned!