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News18 » Lifestyle
3-min read

All the Outrage and Screeching Against Indian Matchmaking is Classist

It’s argued that the series is sexist, casteist and regressive, as if the lived realities of women and men were any better.

Anusha Soni | News18.com

Updated:July 27, 2020, 4:54 PM IST
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All the Outrage and Screeching Against Indian Matchmaking is Classist
It’s argued that the series is sexist, casteist and regressive, as if the lived realities of women and men were any better.

The supposedly vogue, liberated and social media savvy have quickly disowned the latest Netflix series ‘Indian Matchmaking’ on arranged marriages.

They want to distance themselves from it, call it a reality of only a part of society, constantly and clearly demarcating how they don’t belong to that reality or system. The outrage on social media, the reviews reek of inherent classist attitude where we are not ready to own up a system that we as individuals or our parents have been a part of. A culture of finding matches that has been hijacked by greed, social power and money.

It’s argued that the series is sexist, casteist and regressive, as if the lived realities of women and men were any better. Indian matchmaking, if anything is sugar coating the Indian marriage system that has a complex method of selection and multiple layers to the process. At all points, this system remains transactional in nature, imposes the gender roles and is deeply hostile to individuality or debate.

The series comfortably does not touch upon the dowry negotiations, the splurge done by many families who may not have financial resources or the archaic traditions that may be followed as the gear changes once the match is made. The series also camouflages the deeply problematic system, reducing it to ‘choice’ by constantly shifting the client base to the US, where the Indian –American might be still very progressive and open in their choices.

And in response, the audience here has either the outrage over sexism, or their own stories of how misogyny has been thrown on them. At no point we own up and introspect like it’s our own, there is a constant other-ing.

The other deeply problematic aspect is to simply and solely understand ‘Indian Matchmaking’ through the prism of gender and caste. Look at the sharp contrast between Preeti, the mother of 25 year old Akshay and Aparna, a 34 year old lawyer looking for a match. Both seem to be aware of their social power and agency and we can’t agree with the choices of both.

While the mother wants a flexible and cultured (read docile) daughter in law for her son, Aparna dreads the idea of ‘seeing her husband everyday’ and a prospective match is termed a loser by Aparna’s mother because he had a different outlook towards life. Aparna minces no words how her partner should be well dressed and not ‘funny’.

The sharp contrast establishes that the rot exists from both ends and perhaps to accept, acknowledge and own that reality is a long battle ahead. For example, Preeti wants a home-maker daughter in law who fits into the family, and that seems to me just as good as a girl wanting her husband to be ‘well-settled’ or ‘more successful’.

You can’t condemn the former and accept the latter. Sexism alters the choices of men and women. Have a look at Vyasar, another guy who is kind, loving and not fixated on ideas of beauty, happily loves to cook and clean. He is rejected because he might not be able to pay the bills. This is the imposition of gender roles and in this case by a woman.

Seema Taparia, the matchmaker, rightly says that a girl like Ankita would not fit into a traditional Indian family. She understands the marriage market and free souls like Ankita cannot be tamed even in this brazen market. Seema does not judge Ankita at any point, she just tells her a reality that has to be dealt with. Ankita beautifully presents the idea of ambition, independence and love for the family. She doesn’t have to be made to choose either and Ankita refuses to choose one, though she does take a break from the matchmaking process.

As Seema Aunty trots the globe to help people find their matches, each character seems to be searching for their custom made partners and fantasies sold by the Bollywood movies of the ‘one made for you’ even while its dictated by paycheque and caste.

While modern education has given this generation new skills and career choices, there is still no real alternative to this matchmaking system or equitable cultural framework because we are still busy other-ing the problematic parts of our culture.

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