And I am not rueing the fact of my non-regal upbringing in any shape or form. In truth, I’m reacting. Yes, I’d say this post is a verbal up-chuck of sorts. It’s a regurgitation brought on by the consumption of a most vile read. The piece in question is, as the social media post suggests, a ‘dad’s speech at his daughter’s wedding.’ Having read it, I can only hope this is a fictitious father, an imaginary daughter, and a most made-up wedding where an unreal soliloquy went down.
The speech seeks to ratify every unfortunate stereotype ever associated with a woman, specifically an Indian woman, and more generally with other fellow females who form part of patriarchal cultures. To summarize: the dad thinks his daughter’s a “princess” and wants her treated like a “queen” post marriage. For this he “begs” that her husband’s family, or, as he puts it, “the family for her” ensures her happiness. The tone is ingratiating and the “please keep her happy” refrain is nothing short of nauseating. The kid comes off as some insipid, voiceless lump in desperate need of being protected for she is oh-so “fragile” and someone who appears to be still in the process of becoming a full-fledged human being.
I’m not sure I can paraphrase any further without ruining my keyboard with the contents of my gut. What I can and will say is this: the speech is humiliating. It achieves little other than reinforcing ridiculous concepts of femininity and the space for women in culture and society. The father is self-flagellating, he reeks of inferiority brought on by what I would think is his desperate embarrassment at being the owner of the loins that dispensed the incorrect chromosome. It celebrates a woman as nothing more than an ephemeral keepsake, worthy of little more than matrimony, much less any dignity. Her lot is determined by the apparent dictates of nature and society, her home is temporary, and her happiness is anything but self-determined.
Perhaps my real disappointment comes from the unbelievable number of upped thumbs the piece has received. I am saddened that what seems like the desperate plea of a father kowtowing to the family his daughter is marrying into in the hope of ensuring her happiness is receiving appreciation. I am dismayed at the idea that the sweat and toil this father claims to have put into producing a “wonderfully perfect” princess is worthy of celebration. And mostly, I am angered by the suggestion that for a woman, matrimony is an expectation of not just a patriarchal culture but a requirement of nature.
© Ayesha Sindhu 2014