This break would be totally worth your while. It concerns a serious enough issue that forever grips the back of our minds whenever we Women think remotely about the idea of marriage.
The cases of dowries seem to be so inappropriately frequent that they are beginning to resemble the smear of margarine on a toast you forget about as you run to catch that cab to work.
Many people and mindless dumb fillies in my classroom, when confronted about the subject, tilt their ‘salon treated’ hairy heads and ‘uhhmm’ their way through statements like “well its because the girl’s family is under pressure, and the groom doesn’t understand….and Uhhh because it’s been there for so long, you can’t do anything about it”.
You can’t do anything about it? Why the hell are you sitting in class then? And they just totally miss the point altogether, not to mention the gravity of what was posed to them. We in the 21st century, where higher level education isn’t seen as anything too far fetched, sit there and just accept dowry as our reality, which some do or don’t face. Even better still, is the fact that we totally give up thinking about it and toss the onus onto guys to make that decision and face the battle for us. Why should we do this? My professor voiced out notions that pre-existed in my mind, about how men too face certain social prejudices and issues which disadvantage them because of their gender, just like us- however we have it in our heads that they are entitled to the power to refuse things which concerns us. How come?
I recently had a discussion with a girl of 23yrs ( a discussion which disgusted me so much that I completely avoid her now) about how she, a graduate of master’s whose parents and brother are owners of various high class pubs and liquor labels, gave a 3 crore dowry to her fiancee. Till that point I had understood dowry as being an age old social bane especially for the middle to lower classes, who have no choice but to pay their grooms’ families, so that their daughters could survive-however I was unpleasantly surprised by what I discovered from this girl’s case.
She was educated, rich and had many options of where she wanted to study or live (infact she did live somewhere in the U.K for 1 and a 1/2 years). A sane person would have also thought that she had the choice of getting married or not-but leaving that aside she gave dowry and didn’t even flinch when I got completely flustered about it. She added a spin on it instead. Her reaction was a two fold one; 1) she was a little nervous about whether her family’s ‘investment’ was worthwhile, in the sense that after paying all that money will the guy be worth it or not (she used words like ‘useful’)and 2) she was anxious about whether he was just marrying her because he was paid to. On top of this rather emotional point, she expressed how he got along better with other girls who were more cosmopolitan than her, and whether she should change herself to please him. Since I was feeling too shell shocked (because I realised that my stern and moralising criticism of dowry had no effect on her whatsoever ) I gave up and caved in. I did. I even made a joke out of it, and told her that since she was bloody well buying him, she should do whatever she wants with him. And I just left.
So now we see the implications of our commercialized ‘kids in the candy store’ phenomenon in India. Everything that we had absolutely no access to until recently, has been laid open for us to acquire and reject all of the sudden. We have stronger consumer power and the illiteracy rates have no choice but to follow the slow, yet downward spiral. Are all of our social banes of the previous eras getting churned in this consumerist mayhem, culminating itself into something of purely financial matter? Can we safely say that save the lower sections of society (the economically challenged), the upper/middle educated classes are sticking their necks out to carry on these stupid ‘traditions’ even if it meant changing the approach so that they fit our “modern day lives”, which are void of the phrases like “social pressures/prejudices”?
Can you really make a bad thing savvy? I think in the case of dowry up till this point in our history, the answer would have to be a pathetic “well yes, and there’s nothing we can do about it”