I was going through the Sunday newspaper and happened to glance at the matrimonial classifieds. Just as a matter of curiosity, mind you! I have been happily married(?) for the past eight years and was not looking out for a mate.
As I scanned through the ads, the words that caught my attention in almost every ad was "Wanted a fair, beautiful, cultured, educated and homely girl from a good family." The words `fair, beautiful and homely` caused me to chuckle. But at the same time, a growing indignation also took over. Mind you, I am not a flag away feminist overly sensitive about gender roles but these ads got my goat as it were.
Why are the so-called modern Indian men still so hung up about `fair and homely` Someone forgot to look up the dictionary or they would have realised that the word `homely` sometimes means plain or unattractive girl with a lucrative career. The only so-called new word in all these archaic ads was the word `educated.` In my great-grandfather`s time, that wasn`t a criterion at all. As long as she knew how to cook and sing, the bride was a `hit`.
I always thought that we lived in a changed world. I thought we had gone beyond the `fair girl syndrome`. To be honest, it shocked me. I thought that there was a sea change in the thoughts and attitudes of the modern Indian man. But the ads proved that the Indian man is still looking for a cross between Aishwarya Rai, Sita and Superwoman.
In contrast, what do the women seek? They want a professional with a decent and steady job, preferably with a flat if he lives in a big metropolis like Mumbai or Delhi. These sound like realistic requirements, wouldn`t you say? Once in a while the words handsome, non-drinker or tall appear in the ads. So why aren`t women a bit more adventurous? Why not look for someone dashing, loyal, brilliant and gallant? Additionally, a substantial nest egg and a black belt in karate couldn`t hurt-Ram, Aamir Khan and Superman all rolled into one attractive package. If the males want paragons of beauty and talent for future mates, why don`t the women seek the same attributes? Whatever happened to women`s emancipation?
When an Indian woman looks for one or two redeeming qualities in a future mate, she is labelled fussy and irrational. When a male, the king of his castle, insists on a woman of the calibre of a Rambha or an Urvashi, he is well within the parameters of what is considered logical and reasonable.
Believe me, I am not speaking against arranged marriages or classified ads. Ads are a wonderful source of expanding the marriage network. It is the double standards that still exist among us that disturb me a little. If physical attributes are such a desired factor in a marriage, it should be mutual. Women too deserve a Robert Redford in their lives. And if that Robert Redford is homely to boot, can cook like a dream and iron clothes, why not!
So, if you are reading this article and you have strong views on it, why don`t you write in.? And hey! If you any of you men are framing out matrimonial ads, it would be good to keep this article in mind. Maybe, this article would inspire our women to write ads like this "Wanted potential mate, who is tall, handsome, homely, accomplished in Bharat Natyam and Sitar, tennis and gardening, home repairs, cooking, sewing and diapering babies." A bit unrealistic perhaps, but it is a beginning, nonetheless.