Friday, August 9, 2013

"Seeing the Girl"...a classic example of gender-bias.

"Seeing the Girl" is one of the very important process in case of arranged marriage in Indian subcontinent, people who know about the process and culture of arranged marriages in India, Pakistan and other neighboring countries (with similar culture and traditions) will know what I am referring to. This process may sound outrageous or very backward to many who don't know about process or arranged marriage but it is still very important part of arranged marriage process and it's still practices widely, not only in villages or rural areas but educated people, living in big cities also practice this ritual. I always felt that this process is very humiliating process for prospective brides, I always felt bad for them that they have to go through this and always admired their courage and efforts they take to go through this process smoothly, it's not a easy thing to do according to me.

The process it self not very standard and can differ widely from region to region or family to family, many places they just want to make sure that it's the same girl (whose photo they saw), and she doesn't have some obvious issues which were not disclosed to them (like some disability, etc.). Some families want girl to display her talents like singing, dancing, cooking, etc. Some people take proper interview of that girl by asking variety of questions starting from her hobbies to her career goals to her opinion about living in joint family, etc. So as I wrote the procedure can vary from place to place and family to family. I think this process was necessary in era when women (of any age) were not allowed to roam freely in society and men-women interaction was minimum outside family. During that time it might have been necessary to go and interview potential brides by potential grooms. "Swayamvara" was one unique tradition in ancient India where a girl of marriageable age used to choose her future husband from list of suitable candidates, this ritual gave all rights to woman to choose whoever she likes as her future life partner, but this was in ancient India, today one can only see very distorted version of this on some reality shows on TV.

I am not against arranged marriage or social traditions where people can meet and try to know each other better, these all are very useful and relevant even today. But having a social gathering to know each other is one thing and when group of people analyzes a single person as it she is some piece or article they want to purchase is totally different thing (the way she walks, talks, skin color, etc.). In most cases people who should be actually involved (bride and groom) never even get chance to interact with each other, which is a major flaw of this process (specially in very conservative families). When I expressed my desire to have one to one meeting with my wife before our marriage everyone in our family was shocked and they were wondering what purpose this meeting will serve? They never heard of any boy meeting the girl and discussing about their future life in their community, so it was confusing and sort of shocking to them.

I feel this process of 'seeing the girl' should be stopped or at least radically modified, any bride has equal right to get to know her future groom, so the process should be perfectly balanced for both. It should be entirely left to boy and girl to decide whether they want to go through this process or not and the decision of marriage also should be theirs. I am sure that today's generation is mature enough to take decisions about their own life, choosing life partner is one of that decision. Let's give them a chance I am sure they won't disappoint their elders, after all it's their life and they are more concerned about it than anyone else, so just believe in them and give them chance.

Thanks for reading and please share your views about this topic. 

(Copyright: Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing)


  1. 1] First the headlines clearly gives a message of hate/dislike “Seeing the girl” a classic example of gender bias.

    2] Then you write-- this process is important for arranged marriages---a mixed messages here from the title--- then in the very next sentence you presume to make the culture look ‘outrageous’ or ‘backwards’ by presuming that if we were to describe this culture to those who dont know about it, they will automatically think “What a bunch of backwards the Indians are”.
    This is not a presumption on some western mind but its how you see the Indian culture to be!!

    3] Everyone on this planet knows of this culture and even if they didn’t then why on earth would they think its bad to meet a girl or a girl to meet the boy through some friends or relatives etc!
    I dont know what planet you live in but the general tradition is that the boy must approach the girl. Its a concept accepted and conducted by everyone in the west.
    Why are you concocting that its a bad thing.
    Its a common courtesy that the boy goes to the girls house to date her or even to approach the parents for permission etc.
    So you trying to make out that “seeing the girl” is some dumb backward culture is NOTHIGN more than your own presumptions and hate for the culture.

    4] Thus in both western and Eastern culture there is nothing humiliating about it.

    5] Then you try to demean and devalue the culture systematically by portraying it as akin to some cheap market place where sales of goods take place. Infact its a respected process and a natural process where the two families, the girl and boys visits the other –usually the boys family goes to meet the girls family –and they try to find out about each others thinking, education, well being. This is normal and good communication practice and its not like some cattle market where cows are for sale.
    Girls are not lined up, prodded and poked and felt and inspected. They are humans too and are treated with as much respect and they girls have much right to say how she feels about the boy.
    There is communication between them and off course like any arranged meeting the pressure to say is yes is great for both the boys and girls. But thats a different emotion which you haven’t even bothered to touch upon. But that does not mean its bad.

    6] Then you try to give some example of how women had it so good in the past and that now its not. This is a pathetic attempt to smear the Indian culture. The Swayamvar would have only taken place amongst the Kingly families and not amongst their subjects as far as I know. The Swayamvar takes place in a modern way where westernised families choose their own partners.

    7] After your smear campaign and demeaning and devaluing the culture as explained above you smugly write “I am not against arranged marriage......” as little get out clause to say “I am really a nice person writing this blog...”
    Then you quickly make readers think that some people use this process like a “purchase of articles...” a statement to confuse the readers into disliking the culture.
    You play good mind games with your readers.

    8] But then you really let your true feeling come out with the hate and say “I feel this process of seeing the girl should be stopped. As if to stamp a seal to say that this culture is so bad that it needs to STOP!! Its nasty evil and so disgusting that westerners might feel outrageous with it.

    9] You live in some hate land of Indian culture and this blog is as bad as some of your other ones.

    1. simple advise, PLEASE read your comment and decide for yourself who is living in some imaginary HATE LAND (if any such place exists in this world, I don't know any place like this but you might know it)....I am little surprised but not shocked by amount of hatred you have about people who doesn't agree with your views..I always feel sympathy for such people and I do feel same for you.

    2. [[1]]
      Yes, I dislike the tradition where girls are paraded like piece of article in front of whole family (whereas boy is spared of this task)...and my friend please understand difference between hate and dislike, don't use them together so casually...may be this will help you little bit...

      Don't underestimate intelligence of western people, they are not fools to believe in whatever I write, so don;t assume what will they think, please leave it up to them..thanks..

      Where did I wrote that boy meeting or approaching the girl is bad thing?? Please quote those lines. Man, I am getting tired of reading statements without any evidence.

      No one is discussion any culture here, we are talking about just a process (which can be a small part of culture but can not represent entire culture or society)..I thought people with common sense will understand it..but I realize that it's not that easy for some, sorry for not so clear about this.

      I am not at all criticizing that good communication..may be you haven't seen or don't want to see that cattle market where price of groom is decided, bargained, bride is displayed and observed, marriage is stalled to fulfill particular demand. I have seen this happening and that's why I wrote about it. I a sorry if this is a shocker to you, but let me tell you my friend these things do happen in our society, if you (or even I) haven't seen some of these things then it doesn't mean they don't happen. I am specifically talking about those things. I hope not it's clear to you.

      So you think that today situation of women in India (or anywhere in world) is much better than past, right? I agree that most places it is, but still lot needs to be don't to make it even better, I am trying to write where you can improve, you can try where you think we can improve, what's the problem??

      Yes, I am not against arranged or nay other type of marriage, so do you have any problems with this? The post is not about marriage but a particular custom, get that straight my friend.

      yes, I feel the process which is humiliating to girls and biased towards them should be stopped. I also say the process differs from religion to region, family to family and I am talking about process which is humiliating to girls, again take some efforts to understand the meaning.

      Again don't worry about westerners (it seems you are very much concerned about what they will think about my blog), trust their judgement, they are wise enough to understand what is good and what is bad.

      I have not found any hate land till now, if you know any let me know. Thanks with lot of love (I think you need it).

  2. 10] You would have been better off talking about forced marriage where real problems exist rather then picking on a culture/procedure which has been doing fine since time began.
    Arranged marriages is not exclusively Indian or eastern but is part of a western culture too. Even royalties in UK are doing this. Its not a dumb culture as you make it to be.

    Look at social media where they arrange couples get together is nothing more than arranged marriages where the only difference is that the boy and girl type out their hobbies etc and the computer tries to arrange the meetings for them. The computer even rejects some girls or boys as if it knows whats best for you.
    Group meetings of boys and girls where they sit and talk to many different girls is nothing less that arranged marriage. You pick the one you like and dump the rest.

    Friends who introduce another friend in the west is arranged marriages.
    The only difference in the west is that the girls and boys take a long time to say yes or no. Where as according to our social customs we have the whole family involved and the boys and girls talk with each other and decide quickly.
    None of this is bad or nasty or wrong or should be stopped. Its just your perspective which is the problem. You think only western ideas are good and Indian ones are stupid.

    11] A lot of ignorant Indians think the west are some glorious civilisation to be worshipped and followed and thus acquired the intelligence that doubts and looks with hate and suspicion the Indian/Hindu culture.

    1. Again read the post with open mind, not with some prejudice (which most of your comments show)...and then take some time to understand before you rush to comment.

      Off course some arranged marriages end up in forced marriage because decision is forced on couples, don't you think it's the part of same system?

      Did I say that arranged marriages are exclusively Indian?? I wonder whether you even bothered to read the post, I said its the part of many other countries with similar culture..may be you didn't understand what it means, please read it carefully before commenting with some prejudice.

      Goo luck to you to find a perfect match for you with help of computer, I wish all the very best, as far as I am concerned I believe more on my own brain and judgement rather than some software or machine to take my personal decisions.

      [Friends who introduce another friend in the west is arranged marriages.] all marriages are arranged marriages...most people are introduced to each other by some friend or acquaintance...and yes, I like where girl and boys take their own decision and who said that I am against arranged marriage, as usual you are assuming the things (not a surprise)...:)

      Who said I think ONLY western ideas are good?? For me anything where everyone has equal rights and total freedom to express their views and opinions is good, western, eastern, northern or southern doesn't matter to me.

      wow...there is so much love in this statement..why you have west so much? I have no love or hate for any civilization, I like good things no matter from where they are and criticize bad no matter from where they are...I think you have problem with the source of things about which I comment, get over that west against east hangover, may be that will help you to see the picture clearly...remember any hangover is bad..:)

  3. lol--Not understood a word I wrote and its a waste of time writing any more............bored.

    1. surprise expected. It takes lot of patience and courage to confront these issues. Glad that I answered all your concerns and doubts...:)

  4. Hey Vinay,

    Nicely written article. After reading it I felt that I could add my 2 cents to it :)

    Firstly, I think in some cases (very few) it is the other way around i.e. the girl's family goes to meet the boy's family, although I don't know what happens once they meet, who interviews who :).

    I like the concept of families meeting and getting to know each other as I think marriage is not only about the 2 individuals but their families like we say "We marry into the family". But I see your point that people most of the times overdo it which wrong on so many levels. These people have their own reasons for doing
    so. I once heard that the grand-mother of a boy was asking the same question to the girl 3-4 times, When asked later she said
    "oh, I wanted to see how patient the girl is!" :)

    Personally, I wouldn't want to change the concept, but I always felt that the girl's family should also interview the boy and his family. This will make the girl and her family more comfortable
    about the boy and his family. Hey, I was interviewed by my father-in-law and his 3 brothers :)

    Keep writing, I do always read your blog even if I don't always comment.


    1. Thanks a lot Avi for sharing your views, this I must say is very balanced view. As you wrote there is nothing wrong in interviewing both the candidates, in India marriage is not only between tow people but both families are also actively involved in this process. I am not at all against the process where both parties have equal rights or against system of arranged marriage (mine was arranged marriage and as in your case I was also interviewed thoroughly by my father in law). I am against the process where onus to prove their worth and credibility is unfairly placed only on one side and they are not treated as equal partners in this whole process.

      Marriage is very memorable and beautiful even in everyone's life, the process should be enjoyable equally to both sides, that's what I mean. Thanks again for your wonderful comment.