Recently on Reddit /r/India, user ibarmy wrote a long rant about the trials and tribunals she was going through while looking for an arranged marriage. By reading the post, one can come to the conclusion that she is upper middle class, well educated, internet-savvy and has some experience in the dating scene. It is also evident that she is in the age range of 27-30, after which her chances of getting married will become much slimmer. Yet, she remains stubbornly picky and entitled. Even her user flair reads “Unicorn ki talaash mein~~” or “in search of the Unicorn”.
She begins by describing how most Indian women (including expats and their descendants) eventually realize that the attention and validation they receive on social network are worth nothing. The men they fancy are not worthy of marriage because they are too “poor” or a “mama’s boy” (meaning they will put their family before their wife). At this point, they begin to fall back on the aid of their relatives to snag up a rich smuck through arranged marriage.
She admits being envious of women who are fair and pretty, with C-cup breasts and taller that 5’5″ (a common Indian beauty standard), as they will be able to hitch up with a workhorse quite easily. She claims that her “manual” is for women who are unable to snag a fish even in a skewed marriage market like India (amid a scarcity of females), despite being willing to pay to large sums of dowry. What she does not realize is that the price of dowry is soaring because women like her are hypergamous and encourage others to be like that. As a result, the top 1% men are able ask for large dowries. She also says that her manual is not for women who want true love as most Indian men are regressive and want “hot kinky girlfriends but nice docile girls as wives”. This accusation is mostly unfair as Indian men are quick to jump into commitment and any ordinary man trying to walk away from a relationship can be easily slapped with a rape charge. It would be more accurate to say that the rich bad boys, for whom they are willing to be kinky, are not willing to marry them.
She then describes how women spend hours at a professional photographer’s studio to get the most flattering photographs taken. Many Indian photographers actually specialize in this pre-matrimonial ad-like photography. These mostly photoshopped photographs are then sent off to fool prospective grooms. It is should be called false advertising by any other name. Then she has the audacity to call it pesky and tiring. She then turns her ire on prospective grooms who do not get their photos taken professionally, and send in selfies or casual photos. If anything, they should be applauded for honesty. The author of the post wonders if men are too busy watching shitty movies on the weekends to go and get their pictures taken.
The subsequent section is dedicated to the criticism of the bio-data the prospective grooms must send in to the bride’s family. This is supposed to be an advertisement of their academic credentials and earning power. The author of the post criticizes them for their bad composition. Interestingly however, she talks only about three types of academic credentials. These are most sought after ones.
The first one is the graduate from one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). These public-funded universities are considered to be the premier institutions of technical education in India. Every year graduates are snagged from their campuses by recruiters from multi-national firms. The salaries offered to these kids are actually reported as news by national newspapers. India produces only 10,000 of these graduates annually. Given that the IITs have a male-to-female ratio of 10:1, these men make some of the most eligible bachelors in India and among the Indian diaspora. Every year millions of aspirants (mostly male), try to crack the entrance exam. Many among them go ronin for 2-3 years after graduating high school and study everyday for hours at cram schools, only a small fraction of them make it. The suicide rate among these ronins is quite high. It is understandable that most girls won’t be interested in wasting 2-3 years of their youth on such silly pursuits, especially when they are confident (or deluded) enough to think that they will be able to snag one of these sex-starved geeks when they graduate.
The second one is the engineer with an MBA. People who fail to get into the IITs tend to buff up their CVs by adding an MBA. Though the elite Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are preferred, but any MBA school will almost double the salary of an engineer with some work experience. Several MBA schools have popped up in recent years to cater to this crowd. But in the end your salary is determined by whether you went to good expensive school or a cheap one. Even the public-funded IIMs charge up to INR 2200000 (USD 31,000) for a two year post-graduate course. This obviously requires a loan on the part of most Indians.
The third is the doctor of medicine (not to be confused with dentists or practitioners of traditional medicines). The author admits that she is under a lot of pressure to marry a doctor. This is mostly because India is facing a scarcity of doctors, thus having a doctor in the family would provide quick access to the medical fraternity in these days when getting an appointed can be very difficult. This would also reduce the extended family’s medical bills in this age of soaring healthcare costs, by providing free medical consultations to all her relatives. However, the doctors prefer to marry other doctors, failing which they prefer stay-at-home trophy wives. These wives are expected to hold the fort while the docs are off doing 12-hour shifts and doing private consultations on the side to pay off 10-12 years worth of student loans. (See doctorsmarry.com, a site where gold-diggers go to seek doctors.) This irks the author to no end. (It is doubtful these accomplished men would have time or care to get a photograph taken professionally.)
It should be obvious by now that men with these credentials are as rare as the Abominable Snowman in the crowd that is the Indian marriage market. On top of that, the Abominable Snowman must also of the same sub-caste as the bride. This makes them even rarer. Thus, these rare specimen of the Indian male must be lured with wafts of big wads of Gandhi notes, in other words – dowry. The dowry culture is frequently blamed on greedy men by feminists. But the question is that can these men, who have spent years acquiring these degrees and probably are still paying off their student loans, afford not to be greedy? One may criticize a poor farmer for asking a hefty dowry, but can these men resist themselves a handful when a platter of notes are being offered to them. (Within every sub-caste such a scarcity exists, which allows second-choice men to also somewhat ramp up their values.) The author describes how families sell their properties to pay for the dowry. She may be excused for overstating the value of dowry these sort of men usually require. Most dowries nowadays are given disguised in the form of bridal gifts to the newly-wed couple due to strict anti-dowry laws. Although many smart men nowadays pay for the wedding and avoid taking any form of dowry, even a small amount accepted from the bride’s family can be used as leverage. It is also not unusual for dowry charges to be made up even in cases where none was accepted.
After a groom fulfills all the basic requirements, his and prospective bride’s horoscopes are sent to the family astrologer who then must approve of the match. If the stars align and the match happens, his family is invited to meet the prospective bride’s family and the bride herself. Usually the groom doesn’t attend these initial meetings as the compatibility of the families is more important. The man is expected to be a workhorse, raising kids and taking of the his aging parents. The author describes how to doll-up for these meetings and emphasizes on keeping the makeup balanced – not too ugly and not too slutty. She advises women on wearing clever dresses and contraptions like body shapers to hide the fact that they are fat. Soon afterwards she mocks the grooms who come to the follow-up meetings with balding heads and potbellies. The rotting cadaver of irony can be spotted at this point.
Now she describes how the groom’s family use these meetings to further advertise the man to the point of overselling. (It is not unusual for suspicious women to hire detective agencies to spy on the groom and check veracity of these claims.) She also advises women to set their Facebook feeds to private much before these meetings. She is disgusted by how she is not asked about her academic achievements and instead is asked about her cooking skills and hobbies. The author expresses her dread of becoming an unfortunate trophy wive of a rich smuck.
By the end of the post, it becomes extremely difficult for a man to sympathize with the author. One would think that Reddit /r/India, which is by majority male, would be disgusted and repulsed by the post. However, the white-knights applauded the post and one even bestowed Reddit Gold on the post. Only one user Hades_Lost_Soul pointed out the obvious fact that although the author was portraying herself as a victim who must adhere to high standards to get married, but she herself does not have the self-awareness to see that she holds men to a much-much higher standard. The author doesn’t reveal whether she is an engineer from an IIT or a doctor, to deserve such a highly sought match. (May be she has looks of a divine apsara but it is doubtful, as aspara are not known for wearing body shapers.) A man fulfilling her criteria would do better by marrying an orphan or the daughter of a laborer, he is more likely to receive some gratitude from them, which is unlikely from someone like the author.
A lot of upper middle-class problems described by the author would be solved if women like her were to marry down or marry at par. But unfortunately hypergamy is genetically ingrained in women. They will continued to be kinky girlfriends for rich bad boys and then pine for engineers or doctors in their post-wall years. And these men continue to be labelled as greedy for not marrying down without being lured by hefty dowries.