Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Open Sexism

This article is in reaction to this

Yet another matrimonial website has come up in the already-sprawling Indian online market. However, unlike the usual mix of caste, community and religion-based websites that not just perpetuate but even highlight divisions in a society that supposedly stands by 'unity in diversity,' iitiimshaadi.com has something particularly different about it. Its primary focus is education - marrying 'intellectually compatible' people. Well, that's all well and good and some would rightly argue that its a refreshing change from the usual bandwagon of prejudices.

Except for one thing - the site places a much lower bar on women. It is not a site for prospective couples to find each other as much as it is a place where highly education men, the 'cream of society,' can find housemaids who they can also sleep with, legally. Of course, one can scarcely blame the website, for it is just catering to a market that very much exists. My own experience as an IITian has been is that IITians, overwhelmingly male, do not want a wife who can 'stand up' to them, monetarily and otherwise. The idea that a women's place is at home, taking care of the kids and doing the cooking and cleaning is very much ingrained in society.

However, we would like to believe in the value of education in breaking these barriers and so we expect IIT and IIM graduates to be above the rest. Not so, clearly, because if there's one thing that education cannot break, it is family indoctrination. The idea that smart men deserve a wife who is also an almost-free housemaid does not stem from the educational background, although it does reinforce it, but from their families and what they see while the grow up. It is no surprise then that, from my experience, most Indian men are boys who cannot cook or clean up after themselves. In fact, left to themselves and without the ability to hire help, they would die of either filth or clogged arteries from junk food bought at the local restaurant. What is the use of education if it cannot teach you to survive in hard times?

Perhaps the only silver lining is the fact that, by their own admission, the website has not been able to find too many takers. The reason is quite simple: the men do want housemaids, but they also want trophy wives whose education they can flaunt. Basically, the website is looking for well-educated women who are willing to give up everything they've earned for their husbands, who they have never met. Well, good luck with that! 

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