#Opinion

Regressive Matrimonial Advertisements: When Are We Doing Away With These?

Bill NRI Marriages, uniform marriageable age

The concept of arranged marriages is not new in our country. The matchmaking process that was traditionally carried out by astrologers underwent some reformation and took the shape of matrimonial advertisements. With the growth of the internet, a major portion of this cumbersome process has shifted online but the business of putting out matrimonial ads in newspapers has not come to an end yet. A study carried states that about 93 percent of Indians still have an arranged marriage and most of these marriages are outcomes of regressive matrimonial advertisements.

Regressive Matrimonial Advertisements

While the very concept of matrimonial advertisements is regressive, what makes it worse is the type of requirements they state. A case in point would be Dr. Abhinao Kumar’s (BDS) matrimonial advertisement. This ad made rounds on the internet and left us furious. Dr. Abhinao Kumar, a dentist from Bhagalpur, Bihar who was unemployed at that time was looking for a “very fair and beautiful ” wife, who was expected to fulfil a long list of his demands. The series of demands he stated were not just regressive but also ludicrous. The ad has the header in capital and bold titled “BRAHMIN”.

Dr Abhinao Kumar, BDS, 5’8″ (Presently not working) DOB 2.4. 1989, Time of Birth-9.45 am, Place of Birth-Bhagalpur, Bihar, Caste-Brahmin, Gohtra-Bhardawaj) want any very fair, beautiful, very loyal, very trustworthy, loving, caring, brave, powerful, rich extremely patriotic to India with a keen desire to increase India’s military and sports capabilities, an extremist but compassionate, an expert in child raising and an excellent cook, Indian Hindu Brahmin working girl from Jharkhand or Bihar. Sampurna kundli milan & 36 gunas matching must.

Regressive matrimonial advertisement

This ad has so many issues at multiple levels.

  • To begin with, his desire for a rich and working wife while he is unemployed.
  • His expectations of such specific physical appearance in his potential bride
  • Not only does he want her to be pretty but also very ‘fair’
  • He also wants her to be patriotic, extremist and compassionate
  • The bride according to ad should also have ‘motherhood qualities’ and ability to ‘raise kids’

The advertisement plays into creating every possible stereotype about a woman.

Types of requirements in such regressive matrimonial advertisements

This matrimonial advertisement is regressive because its misogynistic, casteist and chauvinist. Let’s have a detailed look at the types of requirements.

1. A “very fair and beautiful” wife

Ads seek a “very fair and beautiful” woman as wife. Why is desi culture so obsessed with a woman’s skin tone and beauty? When will it understand that there’s more to a woman than her physical appearance. It’s not surprising that 25 per cent of the ads for “brides wanted” state preferred physical characteristics, which include height, skin colour etc. whereas only 11 per cent of the “grooms wanted” ads do so. Studies reveal that 16 per cent of women mentioned the complexion of their skin in matrimonial advertisements for “marketing” themselves in 2018.

2. A good cook

Most regressive matrimonial advertisements for “brides wanted” attach so much importance to the quality of cooking as though women are supposed to be born with it. But in reality,  cooking and cleaning are life skills everyone should know. These shouldn’t be seen as only women’s responsibilities.

3. Motherhood qualities

What does “expert” in raising children supposed to mean? Women aren’t programmed to bring up children. It’s only after they step into motherhood, do they learn the skills. More importantly, why should only women be seen as being responsible for raising a child? Doesn’t it require the father’s participation too?

Can we make “marriage between equals” a thing now?

Marriage between equals doesn’t mean sampurna kundli milan and matching of 36 gunas as the above mentioned advertisement states. Can we stop promoting such regressive matrimonial advertisements and redefining marriage as an equal partnership?