More than wives and wombs

Illustration: Mihir Balantrapu  

Marriage is in the air. Last week, a friend shared a most edifying Twitter conversation. It started with a lady from Chennai complaining that her family’s 35-year-old well-heeled and “suave” priest was still unmarried. She scolded “uppity, Brahmin girls” for not marrying him even though he earns tons of money and has his own house and car. To this, one distressed male replied, “Most Brahmin girls are only attracted to money”. Irony did not even whimper as it died quietly.

Another man got business-like: “We have to import from Uttar Pradesh where there are enough poor Brahmin girls,” he suggested. A third guy roared, “Educated Girls of Brahmin Community Must Come Forward to Marry VEDHIC COMMUNITY.”

At this point, one gentleman expressed bafflement that a deserving priest couldn’t get a bride and suggested he look among other varnas for a woman “so long as she is ready to upgrade her thinking and lifestyle fit for the saubhagyavati of a purohit.” When someone suggested that the man could stay unmarried, he was told that this might mean a “next generation purohit shortage for us.”

Meanwhile, the aforementioned unfeeling and uppity girls remained firmly absent from the discussion, expressing no willingness whatsoever to purify their thoughts on the flame of a nearby holy fire and lie down on the altar of marriage.

At this stage of impasse, a new lament was introduced. An engineer-banker said he knew a boy working in a Tata factory in a small town who could not get a bride because most women did not want to move to a Tier 3 city. This was greeted with more chest-beating about how modern women had become ungrateful, greedy, and picky.

This was roughly when I realised my BP was rising gently. So, I decided to head off and vacuum my car. (Note: Any vigorous cleaning activity makes you feel like you have scoured the filth off your Twitter feed.) But I was stopped short again. Clearly, it was not to be my happy BP day.

This time, someone shared the speech that Karnataka Health Minister Dr. K. Sudhakar had given for World Mental Health Day at Bengaluru’s NIMHANS. Lo and behold, the minister too was lamenting that women were turning down the fantastic opportunity that marriage offers. “I am sorry to say,” he said ominously, “lots of modern women in India want to stay single.” Anyone will stay single when the option is to marry a giant blimp bloated with chauvinism, misogyny, entitlement and opinions, but who will tell the Minister that?

In fact, if the good minister had done his homework, he would have stumbled upon the latest National Crime Records Bureau statistics, which finds housewives accounting for the highest number of female suicides in India, at 51.5%. Besides, divorce rates are rising. Clearly, not all is sunshine and light in the hallowed corridors of marriage.

But the minister had a further grievance. “Even if they get married,” he continued, “they don’t want to give birth. They want surrogacy.” Gosh, the horror. Imagine not yearning to throw away nine months of your life or career on pregnancy.

The audacity with which men decide what women should or should not do with their lives is breathtaking. As is the notion that women are hard-wired for marriage and motherhood and that not wanting either somehow diminishes them or makes them responsible for ‘stress’ in society. Women’s actions don’t cause stress in society, it’s society that makes life a living hell for women, so let’s clean those Augean stables first.

The minister called all this “a paradigm shift in our thinking, which is not good,” but didn’t specify who exactly it isn’t good for. For women, the shift is excellent — for their physical, mental, and financial health. As for Indian men, they need to grow up, grow smart and grow a pair before whining on and on about why women don’t want to marry them. This ‘paradigm shift’ might cause them some mental agony but whoever said adulthood was easy.

That Twitter thread I began with rippled with this same astonishment — that women aren’t jumping up to marry any darned bachelor who owns a house and a car. Sorry lads, dream on. Women don’t need to wash your clothes and bear your brats to get a car. They buy their own.

Where the writer tries to make sense of society with seven hundred words and a bit of snark.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 6:48:34 AM |

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