For a very long time, I thought casteism and patriarchy were mutually exclusive. But when reading about these two at a deeper level, I realized that they are actually highly interrelated, having the same origin, beliefs and even a probable common solution – “marriage”, more specifically “marriage initiated by couples (not their parents)”.
Why? Because, in a nutshell, parents-initiated marriages prioritize caste and horoscope more than emotional connection, character and compatibility.
Couples-initiated marriage and patriarchy:
The dynamics of a relationship with any random person is greatly driven by how we are introduced to them.
- In a traditional arranged marriage, neither the families nor the couples know each other on a very personal level.
- On top of that, the entire marriage ceremony is designed in such a way that it makes the girl feel inferior to the groom. I would like to remind that we are still living in a society where most of the marriages involve dowry of some form. This problem combined with the fact that the bride doesn’t know the groom or his family very well, puts her at a highly disadvantaged situation.
This makes the relationship unequal from the beginning. And that is why, I personally believe that, relationships must start from the couples themselves as opposed to their families. Again, this will not eliminate all the misogyny, but will lay a great foundation for ease of life for the couple, especially the women.
- “Hey baby, can you cook for me today?” The probability that a girl might say this to her husband in a couple-initiated marriage and love marriage is definitely higher than in a traditional arranged marriage. There are always “exceptions”, but they are still exceptions, not the majority.
- The problem of dowry too will gradually die away, because when the couples initiate the wedding, the focus would be on getting married and not on dowry or not even on how the ceremony happens.
Couples-initiated marriage and casteism:
The brutal truth is that Indian marriages are predominantly traditional, arranged same-caste marriages. Almost everyone of us feels like we are not a casteist, but if that is the case, why are we reluctant to marry from another caste? And why have we been doing the same for thousands of years. Yes, these days I see some inter-caste marriages here and there but there is still huge resistance even from the millennials to marry from another caste. For instance, brahmins are somewhat 5-7% of the whole population. The probability that a brahmin might find a partner in another caste is incredibly high than in the same caste. I just took brahmins as an example because, I am a brahmin and I see what happens in the brahmin community. But I definitely acknowledge and realize that this is true of almost every single caste in India.
I just cannot comprehend as to why our so-called “modern” generation is still holding on to the age-old caste system.
Not only are we losing on really good people (for matrimony) due to the caste restriction but we are also propagating the oppressive caste system. There is no way we can convince our parents to seek for a bridge/groom from a different caste. But what we can do is try to find a partner for our own, with whom we can emotionally connect. Yes, there is always a possibility that you might find a partner or fall in love with someone from the same caste, but just by simple math, the probability for that to happen is incredibly low.
As far as I understand, most people in our generation marry from the same caste for one of two reasons:
- We are not ready to go through the painful and depressing process of finding a partner for ourselves.
- We want to get rid of our parents’ pressure and we want them to stop nagging us to marry continuously.
Both of these are completely valid reasons. But sadly, if we continue to yield to this pressure, we are only being victim co-perpetuators. Casteism and patriarchy plagues almost every single one of us and both these oppressive systems will continue to propagate as long as we deny the fact that we are the ones propagating it through our indifference.