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An Indian Wife’s Value Is Often Measured By The Money She Brings; A Dowry Or A Salary!

Posted: July 1, 2021

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Traditional mindsets need to take a good look at their bubble of entitlement; why should a woman’s worth be measured only by the money she gets home? 

To the men who are equating the demands of a man’s family for dowry to the demands of a woman’s family for educated men with a good income, I have two words for you: false equivalence.

To the women who are falling for this counter-argument, I have four words for you – do not be gaslit. Do not be tricked into lowering your standards in the guise of this being a feminist issue.

How we measure the worth of a woman

Men who say that a woman can only expect a husband who earns a good income if she brings in dowry, or women who say she can only refuse to give dowry if she has a high-paying job herself, are both essentially saying the same thing. That the worth of a woman and her contribution to the family rests only on the money that she brings to the table, whether it is through a dowry or a salary!

But is that true?

Because even a woman without a dowry, or a woman without a job contributes as much to the family as a man with his income because of the way patriarchy has set up gender roles within marriage.

Whether it is running the household, looking after the husband, the children, the husband’s parents, maintaining harmony with his extended family, maintaining the religious rituals in the family, maintaining the festivals, carrying forward the man’s family’s reputation and bloodline and name, it all falls on the woman.

If she brings in a dowry, do they allow her to just sit like a queen and do none of the above?

Of course not. She still has to do all of the above.

Don’t undervalue a homemaker; the reason you can soar

How many men would be able to climb the corporate ladder or travel for business and reach where they are today if they didn’t have women back home looking after the kids and preparing their food and packing their suitcases or lunchboxes?

Even if you argue that the family can afford domestic help, a cook, a nanny, a driver, and whatnot, the emotional labor required on behalf of a woman is as much or even more than the man, whether she is a homemaker or a careerwoman.

If we want to dismantle the patriarchy and divorce it from capitalism by not pinning the worth of men on their earning potential or the worth of women on their dowries, then we should stop pinning the worth of women on their earning potential too.

Looking after a family emotionally and physically is as challenging as looking after it financially.

So why can’t women demand a husband who can be a good provider when she is entering into an arranged marriage even if she has no job and no dowry? That’s the bare basic minimum in the patriarchy.

Step up, men, instead of expecting women to bend down

If you are a man and have chosen to get married the arranged marriage way, don’t expect women to lower their standards.

Don’t think that them keeping their standards high entitles you to ask for dowry either.

The ideal world, of course, would be one in which there is no patriarchy, where women and men are not circumscribed by traditional gender roles, where they are free to restructure their roles as per their inclination and interests, and where both earning a living and caretaking are considered equally important and not  limited to any one gender.

Image source: a still from the film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun

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Karishma has been writing short stories since she was 8 and poetry since she was

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