Thursday, April 11, 2013

Elasticity of Demand

The stereotyping of people and profession has been an exasperating malady and a clichéd one, more often noticed in societies in India. I wonder if the same is endemic in societies elsewhere, for instance in the West.
The psychiatrist in a film or play must sport a beard, perhaps taking the cue from Sigmund Freud; a school teacher must necessarily have an over sized pair of glasses; a lawyer must invariably don the ubiquitous black robe or his court uniform even while at private functions; a doctor must have the stethoscope on him 24x7 and so on! The contention may be that the profession or the nature of the person can be conveyed only if they have these special adornments. Hindi flicks in the seventies were dominated by villains who always sported a cloak and had a smoking pipe perched to their lips.

We refuse to unlearn these misrepresentations. What I notice these days often discussed and alleged by mothers of prospective brides and grooms is another facet of stereotyping-stereotyping taken to ridiculous extents! They assume and are convinced that what they presume is what the fact is.
I wonder if during my youth the clichéd statements and inhibitions, that I would call sociological superstitions existed in the same intensity as they do now to derail betrothals and match making. It crosses even bizarre limits when educated parents of prospective brides air such views that are stupid, silly, and illogical and defying sound judgment.

When men of a particular profession is allegedly goddamned to be having affinity and indulgence in lecherous behavior, it defies sound judgment. It is absolutely irresponsible and blasphemous. In Kerala there is an element of antipathy towards women in the medical profession of nursing. Women in the profession are seen as grossly flirtatious and promiscuous. Ironically Kerala has the maximum number of women in nursing. It is alleged that a sailor has a woman in every port of call. And the tag stays, only because of the biased proclivity of some. I have noticed doctors with libertine ways. What about that?

But what is bright as summer’s day is that one need not be a sailor, a nurse or a doctor let alone a techie to be dissolute and promiscuous. Fornication and loose morals are not the prerogative of these selected professions. It can be indulged in by any. And one can still display the countenance of an apostle. And that goes with any one you pick irrespective of what he is, a doc, a janitor, a banker or a bureaucrat.
As some parents describe the scenario as “market value”! It reminds me of the classes in Economics that I sat through drearily years ago; then the in-elasticity of demand (apologies to Alfred Marshall). It is flippant and rather crude way of analyzing and judging in a match making situation, to relate the prospective bride (more often), or the groom as we do commodities and their demand, supply and price line in economics. Then the parents fret when the demand is elastic and the ideal profession from which they look to acquire a groom is in short supply.

But then why do parents stick to their guns and damn some profession?

Doesn't these idiosyncrasies of the society boil down as the over emphasis on conventions and skewed mindset? I wonder if economic independence or empowerment is of lesser significance and wisdom than wedlock. If one sees it so then it is a betise inviting trouble in later life. Even if the groom is acquired or fished out from a profession the parents claim or see to be noble and sequestered away from riotous moorings and forays, does that give a carte blanche guarantee that he may not stumble or go astray. Is there a threshold? In such a god- forbidden possibility is it not wise to be economically independent than be pushed into a matchmaking and relationship where woman is overly dependent on the man for sustenance?

I’m concerned about the education and the right academic qualification for my child and am not harried by the thought of her betrothal. Whether the fellow is a sailor, a doctor, an environmentalist or a bureaucrat, it may not drive me into insomnia. Well certainly not a professional politician, but yes a person who engages in political activities outside his profession and not for livelihood is not an anathema. But eventually it is her choice and I guess education will impart her sound judgment needed to choose a partner.


rudraprayaga said...

As all the things have two sides and this sort of independence also has.Sometimes people fly on the wings of too much freedom and eventually end in a fall.But in most of the cases as you said education and fiscal independence equal brides with the grooms and life rolls on smooth track.May your offspring be wise enough to choose someone befitting her desire.Good go.

Usha Menon said...

Very interesting post. No one can make a correct judgement of a person from the profession he/she holds. BTW has your daughter read your masterpiece? What are her comments?

KParthasarathi said...

A good education that equips a girl to stand on her own legs and a job that secures her economic empowerment are essential requisites.A discreet enquiry about the potential bride or bridegroom and her/his family helps.However wrong choices may still happen.In incorrigible cases the girl can walk out without being dependent on her husband.

rama said...

It is true that some professions are linked with negative elements,just because a few are bad, everybody in that profession is painted with the same black color.
I used have cousins in the Army and Navy, who never indulged in drinking, smoking, though nobody had stopped them, they just were not interested in cultivating these habits, even when opportunities were begging them to indulge. It is not that they had will power, it only means that such activities did not interest them.
But people like them are rare in their chosen profession, and this fact cannot be denied.
But a person who is in normal job too can cultivate such habits, because he or she likes it. Similarly the profession of Air Hostess is looked down upon, they are often referred as glorified maids. People have this mental block, and the sooner they come out from this blockage the better for them.

Happy Kitten said...

Yes.. we all have our prejudices but we can try and grow out of it. Those who married nurses are laughing all the way to the bank :) they dont care..nor do the nurses..

All the best to your daughter. May she find a good partner who treats her equal and recognizes her goodness and vice versa. After all once you are married it is not your profession that will carry you through the relation.

Insignia said...

Its there and its gonna stay that way. As a parent the frustration could get into. Its better to be aware of such stereotypes and take clever decisions.
At one time, the parents of girls looking for groom only wanted USA stamped groom. Again a stereotype of a successful engineer migrating to a land of opportunities, happily living thereafter.

There is nothing like a virgin or a slutty profession. Its just doing what one likes to, with passion and dedication. Stereotypes w.r.t jobs, people places etc will not go away

Ashwini C N said...

Stereotypes have always existed in the past and it is kind of sickening to know that people still believe in them. As you said, only with education can one learn to see things apart from the stereotypes. There are good and bad people in every profession, one cannot brand a set of people from a particular field, just because they belong to a profession. Interesting post.

anilkurup said...

Hello Everybody,

A new illness has afflicted me. I do not feel like replying individually to comments. Feels lazy about replying. Hope it goes away pretty soon.
Thanks for your comments , of course I value them.

....Petty Witter said...

Interested to know what your daughter makes of this.

Sorry to hear that yet another illness has left you feeling unwell. My best wishes for a quick and thorough recovery.

Meera Sundararajan said...

I guess one cannot escape stereotyping .. As a person from the social development sector people always expected me to be in a Khadi Kurta and a cloth bag! They could not understand how I wore "regular" clothes! But yes when it comes to marriage people like to extend such stereotypes to the extreme. A girl with a bank job is considered to be a someone who is most suited for marriage -she keeps regular hours and has few opportunities for touring and travel and meeting other men outside of the cash counter...!!! I really feel sad about the stereotype about nurses.. particularly as it is Kerala that should have a view like this.

....Petty Witter said...

Stopping by to say hello. I hope you are feeling better.

anilkurup said...

@rudraprayag, Usha Menon,KParthasarathi

Yes I feel that economic independence will be the factor that plays a good role in couples.
i do not know if she has read this , well ask her what her take is.

@ rama,

Yes indeed some professions are tarnished. That is ridiculous . And when it comes from educated folks such prejudice sucks, as they say.

@ Happy Kitten,
You are right. It is hypocrisy and absolute nonsense.
Thanks let us hope she has a good choice.

@ Insignia,
B cannot disagree with you.

@ C.N.Ashwini,
I wonder why fret when one is educated and achieves economic independence.
Marriage seems to be a natural corollary that is the problem.

@ Meerasunderajan,

The preferences based on working environment or time like you mentioned about a Bank employed women is fine. But the taboos that are associated with prejudiced ideas leads to stereotyping.

@ Petty Witter,
Let me ask her sometime.