People, Not Products

Ankhee siddika:

To my male friends, please imagine the following scenario.

You’re hurrying back from the office. The previous day, your mother had urged you to make it home early—a potential wife could be coming to see you.In excitement, you invite your colleagues and friends to your home as well, so they can witness this exhilarating moment. You freshen up and apply make-up, preparing yourself for your suitor’s eyes.Your mother comes over and reminds you that a potential wife is always impressed by home-made juice and snacks. So you waste no time in putting together a delicious, extravagant drink for your suitor and her family.

Finally, the time comes. Your suitor and her family come alongside. It’s winter, but you sweat profusely under the whirring ceiling fan, beads of anxious perspiration dotting your moist forehead. Your friends peek out from behind the curtain, flashing you encouraging smiles. They’re awestruck by how beautiful and smart your potential wife is, as she enters and gracefully takes a seat.

Source: Internet

Your suitor’s mother speaks softly but motivationally. Oh, don’t worry! My daughter isn’t a predator. She just came back from studying abroad. In fact, you’re the fifth man she visited.

This only intensifies your nerve-wracking anxiety. You’re the fifth! She has four other men to choose from?

And thus the flood of questions begins. You’re only a simple banker—answering to such an intense interrogation is not within your ability! Your prospective wife and her family urge you to sing, ignoring your reluctance. You usually sing well, but now your throat has been swollen shut in fear, and the lyrics have dissipated from your memory. They ask you to show them you walk, how you sit, how you stand. They even measure your waist!

You fail on all counts. Disappointed hisses and criticisms ripple around the room. Your suitor asks what your hobbies are. You, again, cannot answer. Your audience jeers and barks at you. Why are you blowing this opportunity! Your could toss away your lousy job and go live in London with this beautiful woman!

Please place yourself in such a preposterous situation. How would you feel?

We live in modern times. It’s ridiculous that such practices still exist, but in reality, the genders are switched. Girls can be subjected to such “interrogation” and stressful testing that anyone will find derogatory, in hopes of finding a willing husband. One message to women who attend or encourage such examinations—don’t do something like that until you’ve placed yourself in that situation.

Yet everywhere, this despicable tradition can be seen. Young women are presented to men like objects for sale—as their potential husbands look them over, examine them, make inquiries, ask about the price, see if it works, and then decide if he will purchase it or not. What could be more demeaning or derogatory?

Families everywhere, please do not fall into this trap. Even worse, don’t perpetuate it. Don’t attend it. Don’t take enjoyment in watching it. It is not to be celebrated or something of amusement—it only dehumanizes girls.

Let your child be a human. Let them be themselves, accomplish their own goals, develop their own personalities, pursue their own intentions, dream their own dreams, live their own lives. Too often, children are instead seen as products that must fit into a certain brand, have certain attributes that make them more marketable.

I’ve myself seen the marks of this. Before such an “interview”, I have witnessed mothers taking their daughters to beauty parlors—straightening their hair, powdering their skin, whitening their teeth, dolling them up. What leaves that beauty parlor is not themselves—it is a crude puppet, pulled by the strings of society’s sham beauty standards.

Have some regard for what your child wants. Allow them to pursue their own visions for their lives. Don’t doll them up. They are people, not products. Think about their education, their career, and whether or not they are even mentally and physically prepared for marriage.

This whole puppet show is horrendous. Young women, flung around like puppets, chiseled and cut until their originality is gone—until their spirit has been replaced by a mere echo of what men are supposed to find attractive.

This is not an advice, it is a request. A request to men, women, mothers, fathers, and families everywhere to have zero tolerance for such derogatory objectification and abuse. A request to put an end to this “tradition” that only corrodes girls’ self-esteem and self-worth, and also their value in others’ eyes.

The original article was published on Women Chapter Bengali site on 10 April, 2017:

Translated by Adeeb Chowdhury, currently a 9th grade student in William Carey Academy. His passions include writing, blogging and debating. Other than volunteering with Women Chapter, he is also a regular writer of the portal.





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