I live in my small safety bubble full of kind, compassionate, and woke people, who believe that women are human beings and not creatures with ‘bobs and vagene’ to be married off to men and to be at their service for the rest of their lives. Once in a while, this safety bubble, occasionally the size of a Titanic hits an iceberg (see: picture) and sinks to the pits of anger and disgust.
The above image is an excerpt from a reading material allegedly being taught to BA students of sociology at St Joseph’s College in Bengaluru.
As I read through the contents of the image in absolute horror, I also understood why women are still second-class citizens in this huge, ‘developing’ country. It’s because narratives such as the one in the image still find resonance with a large number of people. How else can this text be stating such regressive ideas like it were Newton’s laws?
Yes, I understand, when I say ‘a large number of people’ that I am making a generalisation, but your defence can’t be “I don’t know a family who has asked for dowry” (I do) because it isn’t just about trading off a human being in the name of marriage. It is also about the countless ways that women are subjected to oppression in this country on an everyday basis. It is about how women who don’t fit the mould of what’s desirable/attractive according to the society are called ‘ugly’. Women are called ‘ugly’ whether or not they are getting married in our society, but apparently when money is involved; even the ‘ugly’ ones have a chance at marriage.
There is zero responsibility or sense of guilt attached to the mention of men in this image. Dowry acts a bait for the ‘good’, ‘handsome’ and ‘unwilling’ (of course, because he has the luxury to choose) men.
I read through some of the comments on the original post, where somebody said that there were two disclaimers, one at the beginning and one at the end saying that dowry was an evil practice, and the text says it isn’t ‘recommendable’. The person said the text could only be pointing out the sick mentality of people who justify the practice of dowry and it would help attack the problem at its roots.
Not only do I disagree, but I also think we forget the power that words have. If the text were to, in any way, denounce the practice of dowry, it could have done exponentially better. Some words/phrases like, ‘unacceptable’, ‘abhorrent’, ‘regressive’, ‘no place for such practice in the society’, ‘practice meant to only oppress women’ to name a few could have easily put the text into perspective.
We must attack with all our might every time such a thing comes up. We must not try and justify/rationalise as to what could have led to the occurrence of such text. Find the author/publisher and hold them accountable. Hold the teachers accountable. Hold the institution accountable. Tell us this won’t happen again, and definitely never in the name of education.
Before I end my rant, here’s a small reminder: according to the last report issued by the National Crime Records Bureau in 2015, 21 dowry deaths are reported across the country every single day!