The Trophy-Wife Syndrome Plaguing Tamil Nadu We Need To Talk About

The Trophy-Wife Syndrome Plaguing Tamil Nadu We Need To Talk About  Image for representative purpose only
Snapshot
  • In the racist discourse of Tamil Nadu, the women of the so-called upper castes are considered as trophies – particularly girls from Brahmin community.

    If one looks at the caste-rivalries and communal slogans, it becomes clear that there is a trophy-wife syndrome plaguing Tamil Nadu.

Two things happened in the Tamil Nadu social media realm yesterday.

First was that a video of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) youth wing went viral. It was titled the 'Dravidian Great Wall'.

Second was the news of a ruling party (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-AIADMK) lawmaker, aged 35, marrying a 19-year-old girl of a Gurukkal family.

In a strange way, both were related.

The video released by DMK youth wing is soaked in racism similar to the pre-Holocaust anti-Semitic propaganda. It speaks of the brave, intelligent black Dravidian race pitted against the cunning, fair-skinned Aryans.

The latter get represented in the video through Brahmin community.

Then, the video speaks of the 'continuous efforts of cunning Aryans to infiltrate Dravidian land' and how the Dravidianist leaders E.V.Ramasamy, C.N.Anna and M.Karunanidhi had stood as wall defeating the infiltrating attempts of Aryans.

The video announces continued Aryan attempts to invade Tamil Nadu through Brahmins and then, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. This culminates in presenting M.K. Stalin as 'the great Wall of Dravidian race', stopping any such attempts.

In any society with basic human dignity and humanity, such a video would not have been made and had it been made, it would have been condemned.

Meanwhile, the AIADMK MLA of Kallakurichi constituency, Prabhu A, belonging to a community classified under the Scheduled Castes, married a Brahmin girl. The protest from the girl’s family seemed to stem more out of parental agony and a sense of betrayal, than casteism.

According to some reports, the MLA is said to have been in love with the girl for the last ten years. While according to the girl, they were in love for less than a year, a few months.

So if we are to go by the former, when he first met the girl the MLA was a 25 year old, while she was a nine-year-old child. As one commentator in social media, Rajashankar Viswanathan, pointed out, this could well be a case of sexual grooming.

So, a case of sexual grooming of a child from age nine by an older politician has been projected as a progressive marriage?

The MLA had been brought up by the priest's family as their own son in their home. No wonder then that the priest attempted to commit suicide.

The next casualty here is the trust with which the Brahmin family treated the boy, who later became the MLA, as one of their own children.

But one needs to understand that in the racist discourse of Tamil Nadu, the women of the so-called upper castes are considered as trophies – particularly girls from Brahmin community.

If one looks at the caste-rivalries and communal slogans, it becomes clear that there is a trophy-wife syndrome plaguing Tamil Nadu.

This is a common theme across Tamil Nadu, often found in rallies in the form of slogans such as: ‘Cut the male of x-community and wed the girl of x community’ or ‘wife of x-community is for our community a concubine’ etc.

Such chants have been heard in caste rallies of both Dalit and non-Dalit communities.

The fact is that only a few communities refrain from making such women-degrading slogans in Tamil Nadu. The Brahmin community is one among them.

And yet, the anti-Brahmin virus has so strongly infected the collective mindset of Tamil Nadu that making a Brahmin girl 'fall in love for a non-Brahmin boy' has become the new caste norm in Tamil Nadu.

Behind this, is the obscenity of racism which forms the core of the Dravidianist ideology. Aryan women should be won over and Aryan men are effeminate.

In most Tamil movies, while the Brahmin girls are chased by non-Brahmin men, the married Brahmin women are shown as flirtatious and unsatisfied with their husbands, or their husbands are shown as hyper-suspicious of their wives.

There is also another side to this phenomenon.

The gender-based violence happens both ways.

For the landed castes, the women of non-landed, economically weaker communities have been victims for at least the last two centuries.

As Swati Goel Sharma points out elsewhere, in the rural context, it is almost always the Scheduled Castes community women who get violated by the landed ‘upper’ castes. Perhaps the Scheduled Castes community boys seeking to marry the so-called upper caste girls is then seen as a kind of revenge.

Yet, there is a fundamental injustice in making romantic or marital relations a medium to achieve social revenge.

'Women as a trophy' is an ugly mindset that has to be discarded. There have also been allegations of ‘drama love’ and extortions, blackmails and fake-marriages in this context.

Inter-caste marriages are definitely a means to achieve social justice and harmony. They should be encouraged. But care should be taken that it does not become male-centric trophy-wife seeking. Perhaps, enlightened parents can make such social harmony-oriented dimension one aspect of consideration, just like horoscope.

Unlike the Dravidianist and pseudo-Dalit trophy hunting marriages, Hindutva too has encouraged inter-caste marriages in its own way.

It should be noted that Veer Savarkar, Bala Saheb Deoras, Rajaji and Gandhiji had encouraged inter-caste marriages. 'Suicidal is the hand that stops such marriages' wrote Veer Savarkar.

Rajaji even penned a short story in which a Brahmin girl comes forward to marry an SC youth who dedicates his life for community upliftment.

The present RSS head Mohan Bhagwat once pointed out that as an organisation, the RSS has the highest number of inter-caste marriages.

The difference is that while the racism of Dravidianist politics often makes inter-caste marriages a one-way road in which trophy-wives are hunted, the Hindutva inter-caste marriages aim at harmonising love between individuals cutting across caste barriers, with social harmony and justice.

A Hindutva worker, who was negotiating between the families of a girl and boy, one of whom belonged to an SC community, told this during the talks to both family members: "It is by divine grace that the union of your two children is not just forming a relation between your two families but bridging relations between your two communities"

Such is the approach needed for building a truly healthy society.

Social justice and social harmony as well as inter-caste marriages are too important to be left to be exploited by trophy-wife hunters and advocates of racist pseudo-rationalist doctrines like Dravidianism.

Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.

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