By Krishangi Singh:
In most parts of the world, women, when being praised, are showered with compliments on their skills, beauty, work, talent etc., but women in India are appreciated by our society only when they do what they are ‘supposed’ to do. Words such as obedient, meek, proficient in household chores, good cooks and other such adjectives that glorify their ‘fitting in’ into the roles defined by our patriarchal culture are considered to be the highest honour they can achieve.
When we use such adjectives to appreciate the women around us, it shows how little we value them. Even television advertisements show women’s most prolific achievement to be ruling the household domain! With such perception of women, arranged marriages become the choice for most men in this country and their families when they look for a bride with such a specific job resume.
Websites such as shaadi.com and bharatmatrimony.com have come up with profiles of eligible gentlemen and ladies to find their perfect matches with millions of applications available, but sooner than later, more target specific websites had to sprout up.
One such website is iitiimshaadi.com. Yes, you read it right! This website’s target user group is men who are alumni of the two premier education institutes of the country, Indian Institute of Technology & Indian Institute of Management. Although it doesn’t limit itself to only these two institutes, it only takes in application of men with higher education from eminent national and international institutions.
So, why are we putting this website under scrutiny? Surely there are other target-specific matrimonial websites like secondshaadi.com and positivesaathi.com. The catch of this website, however, is that the male applicants with their fancy degrees from top-notch colleges do not look here for an intellectually compatible wife, but rather someone who would be willing to sacrifice her career & stay at home to do the household chores. The website allows women candidates to apply here without prominent educational qualification so long as they are willing to accept that their career will not be given equal importance as that of their husbands.
Yet, it will not be fair if I don’t bring to light the other side of the picture. On a phone interview with Dr. Ajay Gupta (Founder and Director of the website), I asked him his perspective about this one-of-a-kind matrimonial start-up:
Why did you choose to name itÂ after IIT and IIM?
Dr. Ajay Gupta – We have not solely targeted IIT and IIM. We used the name of these two institutions in our website so that the audience can get the message that this website is only for people who have studied from premier institutions. If you see inside the website, you will notice about 100 other institutions listed along with IIT & IIM. Thus, it is an indicative name that we have used. It does not limit the field of studies as we have included top institutes of each field, whether it is sciences, humanities or theatrics.
Don’t you think it would be more prudent if educational qualification for men and women had the same bar, surely women will be more understanding regarding the work-load of their spouse if they both work on same level in the job hierarchy?
Dr. Ajay Gupta – What you’ve pointed out is relevant. The reasons for putting difference in educational standard for men and women are that the population ratio of women to men in such pre-eminent institutes is 1:5. Thus, if we do not lower the education standard for women, then there will not be enough women applicants to strike a balance with the male ones.
Do men registered on your website not require women who have similar educational background for intellectual compatibility?
Dr. Ajay Gupta – We surveyed around 100 men and asked them about how qualified they would want their spouses to be. The result of the survey showed us that only about 20% men said that they want their spouses to have same educational qualification as themselves. It is not necessary that an IIT or IIM graduate wants a wife who has graduated from the same college. Intellectual compatibility is required, but they could find it with an LSR graduate too.Â So, we have targeted the wants of all segments of men and women by lowering the education bar for women.
Dr. Ajay Gupta’s perspective cannot be discarded entirely. His argument is relevant and the fact remains that the statistics he provided are correct. After all, it is not his fault that men are okay with having spouses from varied educational backgrounds (which is actually healthy). The website he has set-up is only to cater to the demands of the public and run his business.
His actions and intentions are not to insult women, yet his misogynist tendencies cannot be ignored. It will nevertheless be wrong to blame this one man for something that the society has promoted for so long. We all have seen elders in our families asking our male siblings to aspire for these very colleges, whether for the sake of fat paychecks or a fair spouse. We have seen our friends and sisters get into arranged marriages where a major criterion for selecting the groom is his alma mater.
Misogyny is so deep rooted in our culture that it is no longer differentiated from our lives, yet sexism against men is present just as rampantly. When we criticize a start-up of this sort, we must remind ourselves that even though this website questions a woman’s intellectual capacities, it simultaneously judges a man solely on the basis of his higher education.
I fail to judge which one is worse.