TGIF! – Arranged marriages with a twist

Disclaimer: I don’t intend to offend anyone (except if you’re against same sex marriage. in that case offence is kind of intended) so if you do find something offensive, please be gentle and I’ll be happy to correct the mistake.

I heard something positive on the radio when I was driving to work the other day. Here’s A matrimonial ad with a difference. Read carefully!
Arranged marriages are India’s big normalizer, I think. The universal experience has already cut through class, caste, and religious barriers. We’re now working on sexual orientation.

The news went to Rajini and he was all…

Why should only brides have all the “fun”? If it’s an arranged marriage, as a gender equality champion I would like the wedding to look like this:

Once the first couple of arranged marriages work out, methinks more moms will jump on the bandwagon and be all be like…

The sons will all be like…
Because the beast must extract its price from all those who pass through its shadow. We can still go on with our IIT-IIM-social skills optional groom obsession though it might get tricky if two women want to get married and we enforce the “no working after marriage” rule. It’s ok, we’ll work out something.

Once the movement gathers momentum, Alok Nath will look at all the weddings happening and be all, “Goody!!” He’ll be all, “Kanyadaan is a state of mind.”

Someone will make a comment at some point (maybe even something like the vadai are good but I didn’t care for the appalam) and then Arnab will get all…

The news hour debate will reach incredible decibel levels before everything will be settled for good like this…

Seriously, if we’re even seeing matrimonial ads, Isn’t it time we stepped into the Century of the Fruitbat and actually legalized what should never have been illegal in the first place?

obligatory: Lavanya Mohan’s piece. Gotta balance the Iyer view with the Iyengar 😉

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Feminism and choice

Are homemaking and motherhood futile occupations? The answer is, obviously, a big fat “No”. l don’t value homemaking despite being a feminist. l value it because I’m a feminist. One of the main ways patriarchy has sought to demean women is by demeaning their primary (traditional) occupation of homemaking. This method seems to have succeeded to the point where even women who work to oppose patriarchy believe that women continuing to pursue traditionally feminine pursuits amounts to somehow making disempowering and/or inferior choices. I have two main issues with this.

Firstly, homemaking is not easy. Neither is it without value. A home is a place of comfort. It’s where we want to go to recharge. To sleep. Sometimes even to hide. Comfort comes from order, predictability, stability and a feeling of being taken care of. When I put away the laundry every night, I’m not just doing chores. I’m making the room more inviting. When The Hero clears the table, he does the same. When we wake up in the middle of the night and there’s a water bottle on the nightstand, it’s comforting. The acts are small but the consequences are far reaching. To keep a family nourished and comforted doesn’t happen without foresight, planning and effort.

Raising children isn’t easy either. There are only three types of providers of childcare. Parents, family members and external help. Each option comes with pros and cons but it’s delusional to think they’re interchangeable. All the self-righteous individuals who say “breast milk can be expressed and left” clearly don’t realize that a) breastfeeding is more than just feeding and b) not all moms can pump and not all babies take bottles. Raising kids is hard work. It’s not about diapers and burps. It’s about engaging them physically, intellectually and emotionally. Giving them values and helping them grow up to be balanced human beings. Some kids thrive with multiple care-givers. Others do better with one. A parent who chooses to be with their child is not doing any worse than the person with a fancy job title.

The second reason I think it’s wrong to judge someone else’s choices is pretty simple. Who are we to judge? There’s dignity in any task and what’s not right for me is not absolutely wrong. It’s about fit.

When we judge individual choices we miss the bigger picture. We forget to question the reason behind the choice. Are we responding to decades of conditioning? Are we trying to live up to some unrealistic superwoman superperson ideal? Or are we finally free to make our own choices?

As a feminist I’m more worried about women around me having the right to choose. It’s none of my business how they exercise this right.

Open Letter to The Great Indian Society

Dear Well Meaning Parents, Siblings, Uncles, Aunties, Grandparents, Cousins of Parents, Neighbours of Grandparents, Nosy Well Meaning People Next Door, Old-time Servants, And Other-Assorted-People-I-Forget-Who-You-Are,

Our family right now comprises only two people. Us (the husband and the wife). Everyone else is either a) A relative, b) A friend c) An acquaintance, or d) A very unwelcome intruder. Category (a) has two sub-categories (a1) People who don’t need an invitation to come and live with us and (a2) All Others. I’m sorry to say that most of you to whom this letter is addressed do not fall in category a1. And no, we do not anticipate any openings coming up either.

Now that we’ve established the social hierarchy, let’s talk. Shall we?

One, every couple needs privacy. A safe space where they can lay down their own rules, make their own dinner, watch terrible shows on TV, have loud sex (sometimes not just in the bedroom), fight, make up (or make out), wear tattered shorts and ancient T-shirts and in general just be themselves. It’s bad enough to have to be civilized in the workplace. Please do not intrude into our home (and if you’re category a1, we’ll make an effort so you don’t have to know we have a sex life. But since we do have one, could you not visit us quite so often, please?)

Two, the wife’s career is as important as the husband’s, thank you. She’s worked as hard (or harder) and is as smart (or smarter) than the husband and so, would you kindly stop assuming that the wife will trail along wherever the husband goes? If she does any trailing, she’s doing it because she wants to not because she has to (now, doesn’t that make the husband feel good?)

Three, we only really answer to ourselves. I know you have 35 years of experience and that you wish us well and that someday, we might regret not taking your advise. But really, you must stop expressing yourself now. And let us get on with screwing up our lives and get to the next stage of our fight-make up-make out cycle.

Four, please stop feeling sorry for the husband just because he cooks. He happens to enjoy it. Besides, I know the sambar smells good but I’m sorry, you’re not invited to dinner.

Five, yes, we’re one of those freaks who wish to  have a daughter. I’d like her to grow up as quickly as possible so we can go shopping and my husband would love to spoil her silly. So, while we do appreciate the blessings, we would appreciate it even more if you weren’t quite so sexist about them.

Six, we work hard for our money and we deserve to do what we want with it and how much of it we want. It’s hard enough to get through the workday without having to a) spend our money on people who don’t appreciate it and b) listen to people go on and on about how we should be saving it and c) be reminded of our endless “responsibilities”  (this a, b, c are different from the categories above. But I’m sure you got that, no?) Saar, we do not ask you for your money. Neither do we tell you that you should be paying your son in America (Bay Area) rent for living in his flat and stop pretending that you’re doing him a favour by living in it. Therefore, kindly stop trying to guess how much we make and whether we really only bought just a quarter gram of gold for Akshaya Tritiya.

Seven, The Gods told me the other day that they don’t really care whether or not I wear all the Symbols of Marriedness. My husband knows that I won’t cheat on him just because I prefer not to wear a bindi with jeans. If the only thing preventing you from hitting on me is the fact that I’m married and you would like a constant reminder of it, please have a chat with my karate-brown-belt-husband. If not, it doesn’t really matter to you whether I advertise my married state or not, does it?

Eight, no. My husband and I are not “busy on our own laptops”. We’re actually spending quality time together without having to expend energy talking (me) and listening (him).

Nine, (deep sigh and deep breath). Madam, I do not want to be an “ideal bahu”. I would rather just be a happy wife. I have no interest whatsoever in your opinions of how my maid is overpaid (well, I will employ and overpay a maid soon) and under-worked and how I am neglecting home for the sake of mere career. The fact is, that unlike my maid, I am overworked and underpaid. Therefore, could you please let me just enjoy my suspiciously-alcoholic-looking-icy drink?

Finally, no, we’re not atheist. No, we don’t like religion all that much either. And yes, that will make sense if you think about it a bit…

Much Love,
The Goddess and The Geek