Editor’s note: FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth for February 2022 is redefining love. We invite submissions on the many layers of love throughout the month. If you would like to contribute, please email your articles to [email protected]
There’s something wrong with the way we love. Love is a beautiful feeling, a feeling of hope without which life is banal. But unfortunately, in the society we live in, love is plagued by the culture of misogyny, restrictive parenting, sexism in movies, casteism and classism. All of these factors lead us astray in our way of loving, and attempt to fit the emotion itself into problematic boxes.
It is an uncomfortable truth that even nowadays people meticulously follow the tradition of getting married within their caste, religion or class. According to a 2016 report from National Council for Applied Economic Researchonly 5% of marriages in India are inter-caste.
Today, love is politicized and vilified to such an extent that if a Muslim man marries a Hindu woman, it is claimed that he is love jihad. Casteism, hatred and prejudice are widespread today, and all of these seem to be conditions for loving. For an emotion like love, no one would have imagined that there are terms and conditions, but our reality says there is not.
If we were to analyze data from the National Bureau of Criminal Records as of 2019, one can easily conclude that India is not safe for Bahujan and Tribal women. Compared to 2018, there was a decrease of 7.3% to augment in caste-based crimes against women from Bahujan communities. In an article published by the UMass Amherst Political Economy Research Institute in 2019, economist Deepankar Basu says that since 2014 there has been a 300 percent increase in hate crimes against people from religious minorities.
In this context, it is very clear that there is something inherently wrong with the way we seem to seek love. Our hearts have been divided, and maybe a divided heart cannot love. We have Anti Romeo Squads for “protect womenof harassment when in reality it is only police moral relations between two people.
Love has also become consumerist in the digital space, where algorithms find us the ‘perfect match‘, whose parameters are rooted in the same problematic principles of division. As a result, the concept of love has been misinterpreted as an economic transaction, a socio-moral coalition or a sexual contract, where the dominant position is held by men and people with social capital. So the question is: is love completely dead? If not, what does it mean to love in our time?
Read also : Public Spaces, Obscenity Laws, and the Affection Police
At school, we are told that love is a “distraction”. We are led to believe that love is a terrible thing, a deceptive temptation meant to test your restraint. We are taught not to give in to our emotions, that falling in love is shameful. Love is constructed as an anti-spiritual, capitalist and immoral persuasion that goes against Indian culture until we reach a certain age.
Then we are forced to go on blind dates where well-meaning parents and family members find us our perfect soulmates through marriage websites.
For a country like India, social osmosis is imperative to reverse this situation like BR Ambedkar, the architect of our constitution highlighted while elaborating on the need to put an end to endogamy. I think we’ve forgotten what love is really supposed to do. There is something radical in love, something revolutionary.
As Sally Rooney says in her novel “normal people” – No one can be completely independent of others, so why not give up the attempt. Run the other way, depend on people for everything, let them depend on you, why not?
We have read and witnessed so many examples of people falling in love through thick and thin, during holocausts, world wars, against gender binaries and hard times. This is why we recognize that tenderness is a gift whose use we have forgotten. Society binds us with terms and conditions when all that matters, love, is whether you are happy and feel safe and comfortable.
What matters is whether or not your relationships are your choice, and whether they are based on what you feel comfortable with, what you really want and need. Love should be based on mutual respect and if you have found that then that in itself is promising and revolutionary.
Heterogeneous nations like India really need to create space and encourage radical and diverse love, a love that knows no boundaries, that is not based on caste, class, gender and social calculations, but on feelings of unity.
Read also : Tracing the history of pants, gendered clothing and the moral police of women
Featured image source: Quartz