What exactly does a woman, considered and called 'marriage material' by some men, and some women as well, look like? If 'marriage material' means the kind that inspires unwavering commitment at the very first sight, then, of course, she must look like pizza. No? Okay, no.
Jokes apart, now that it has been successfully established that I am no expert at segregating humans on the basis of their alleged 'prospects' at matrimony, let's quickly convey why we are discussing this. In last Sunday's episode of Koffee With Karan, Ranveer Singh was asked to choose who among Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma he would like to marry, hook-up with and kill. No surprises for avid Bollywood gossip hoarders like me that he said he would marry Deepika. He then proceeded to explain, with great nonchalance, why he would do so: 'She's complete marriage material.' Not because he's in love with her, or she is smart, or even because he finds her hot.
He then proceeded to explain why, with great nonchalance: 'she's complete marriage material'. Not because he's in love with her, or she is smart, or even that he finds her hot.
This is when I was distracted from the very haute lungi-esque thing Singh was wearing to something infinitely more confusing -- the label 'marriage material'. I understood that it must not be something offensive even in this day and age -- host Karan Johar and actor Ranbir Kapoor, people I consider fairly intelligent and progressive, didn't seem discomfited by the phrase. Secondly, the Internet is littered with listicles and articles wanting to help -- presumably dodos like me -- with how to spot a 'marriage material'. Most of them, with the same earnestness with which Ranveer Singh anointed Deepika Padukone 'marriage material', seeks to tell you what is the best kind of person to get married to.
Since I avoid 'how to spot Mr Right/Ms Right' listicles like the plague and vegan steaks, I have not had the misfortune of coming across the word 'marriage material' too often in recent times. However, I have to admit that many years ago, as a college fresher, a boy, while possibly trying to woo me, had declared with much glee that I was 'perfect marriage material'. And was not amused that I wasn't amused by the said expression of affection.
The reason I wasn't flattered was that the idea of 'marriage material', at least in common parlance, exists as a result of the rampant stereotyping of women from a heterosexual male point of view. A point of view that, unfortunately, several women subscribe to as well. The 'tomboy', the 'slut', the 'ice queen', the 'marriage material' -- women stripped off individuality and defined by how heteronormative male desire views them.
The reason I wasn't flattered was that the idea of a 'marriage material', at least in common parlance, exists as a result of the rampant stereotyping of women from a heterosexual male point of a view.
While by itself marriage material sounds fairly innocuous -- just someone who can be married -- come to think of it, it does say that there is just one kind of woman worthy of 'holy' matrimony. Which immediately begs the question, what are the other kinds? Is your 'awww' at the flowering, frothing Deepika-Ranveer romance rapidly withering into an 'eh...'? I get you.
The last time I checked, marriage was meant to be an informed decision taken by two people to formalise a relationship as per the country's existing laws. And not exactly a character certificate. Then the idea of 'marriage' as a measure or proof of a woman's worth is only as progressive as Baba Ramdev's idea of 'curing' homosexuality with yoga. And as futile as trying to make cheesecake from gau mutra.
Now before we haul just Singh through the coals, let's perhaps understand what is more alarming than an actor calling his alleged girlfriend 'marriage material'. It is the knowledge of how the idea of a 'marriage material' continues to be inoffensive even among seemingly non-regressive people. A majority of people may not find it disrespectful or even a wee bit trifling and patronising. If you were to count the number of men and women who'll argue, 'Arre, he didn't call her a slut, na?' or 'Don't be so stuck up, ya' or 'Chill na, bro!', you could start a new country the size of India.
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