Sunday, 5 February 2017

Woman: A Commodity in the Marriage Market

A Hindi newspaper, simultaneously published from Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur, recently reported that a young woman was thrown out by her husband and in-laws as she didn't bleed on the first night!! The poor woman's husband and in-laws suspected that she lost her virginity. Mind you, the woman's a lecturer and her husband is an IPS officer, her father- in- law is a senior income tax officer and mother-in-law is a trainer at an English coaching centre.

 It's obvious that the ill-fated woman's in-laws are well-off and seemingly 'educated', yet they still think primitively and lay emphasis on an insignificant issue like a woman's virginity. Don't they know that a woman's hymen can break even without ever having sex and there're a few women, born without a hymen? And even if that woman had sex (before marriage), why make an issue? Do we ever make bones about a man's virginity? There're numerous dubious clinics even in small Indian cities where  'hymenoplasty' operations are performed on the sly. Why a woman's intact hymen's so much valued that there're condescending terms like, 'Akshatyoni' (virgo intacta in Latin) and 'Akshata' (literally: hymen intact)? Parents, especially in Maharashtra, christen their daughters 'Akshata' (an eternal virgin)! Doesn't a woman have feelings like those of a man? If a man can sleep around, why can't a woman? She has every right to emulate her male counterpart in this department.

Society, especially the Indian society, has accrued too much unnecessary importance to a woman's virginity. A famous sexologist, who was associated with Debonair, once said, " In my four years with Debonair as its sex expert, I mostly came across two types of queries: Is masturbation harmful and my wife / girlfriend didn't bleed." A relationship is built  on mutual trust and love. If it starts with such a stupid doubt whether one's wife or girlfriend had already slept with someone else, then I don't think any relationship can survive even for an hour. Even the sociolinguistical attitudes all over the world are heavily loaded against women. Sanskrit has 246 words for a fallen women as compared to only 14 words for a 'lampat' (Sanskrit word for a lascivious man) man. French has 39 words for a characterless woman, whereas it's only 8 words for a man with a roving eye. Arabic has 86 words for a bad woman and hardly 5 words for a lewd man. The list's endless.

Never forget that even Diana Spencer had to undergo virginity test before getting married to Prince Charles. Charles' virginity didn't matter. Because, he's a man!! We've taken it for granted that women are innately characterless and are responsible for men to go awry. All the anthroplogical mores were conceived and made by chauvinistic males. So we still suffer from the preconceived misnotion that a woman's virginity must be preserved for the man who picks her up to marry!! She's still a commodity, a product and an object in the marriage market. And the collective state of mind doesn't appear to alter in near future.               
                                                                  ----Sumit Paul

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