Why No One Had a Problem Believing An IIT Was Offering ‘Good Bride’ Courses
As per a report out earlier this week, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was developing a course to teach young girls how to be a good bride — from improving self-confidence and building interpersonal skills that would help them deal with new family members, to fostering problem-solving techniques and computer skills.
Before IIT-BHU’s registrar, Dr SP Mathur, could clarify that no such course was planned on this particular topic, Twitter was abuzz with outrage:
“How to make brides confident is an IIT course. Ladies, why bother with engineering when you learn to be the best bride you can be?”
“No similar course to groom the grooms? The stench of patriarchy refuses to fade away”
“IIT Varanasi to conduct a 3 month crash course for newly married women on being a docile, domesticated wife. This is brilliant, exactly what India needed. We don’t need women to become good engineers, let’s make them great wives instead! *facepalm*”
“IIT Banaras designs course for brides-to-be. Why if a course for grooms-to-be too, so that they won’t abandon their wives later @narendramodi Ji ?”
That everyone believed it doesn’t come as a surprise. In India, anything coming from an institution as prestigious as IIT is to be taken on its face value. That brand, because of its excellence, is trusted; it matters.
Lately, too, universities have been receiving flak for sexism right and left, from female students protesting unequal curfews in university hostels, to professors prescribing dress codes for women (but not men), to universities (including an IIT) responding poorly to reports of sexual harassment. Therefore, it didn’t take people too long to believe that the same sexism that underlies this recent history would offer such a blatantly sexist course.
More broadly, cultural attitudes about what makes a marriage and family successful, and who is responsible for that success, also made us more ready to bite. Don’t we all expect women to adjust and adapt to the new home and family (but not the man or in-laws)? So it only felt natural that a course, a problem, like this exists.
Husbands can and should make adjustments, with their wives. In-laws can and should adapt, as well as new bahus. Marriage is as new for these parties as it is for a bride. But until we really believe that as a society, we’ll keep being outraged over nothing — because the alternative is just all too believable.