For many South Asians across the globe, the concept of dating is seen as taboo. When dating is finally sanctioned and endorsed by South Asian parents wanting you to find a suitable partner, the manner in which the matchmaking is done can be problematic.
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, a dating app that was dubbed India’s “Sanskari Tinder,” temporarily hit the market -- matching people based only on their caste, instead of their similar interests, hobbies, or personality traits.
A number of Twitter users were quick to debate whether or not the app is even real, while others worked to dissect the app’s cringey, casteist and sexist advertisements.
While some thought it must have been fake, others shared that the app was only taken down after being reported.
“Don’t fall prey to sex before marriage,” reads one of their ads. “Don’t let your parents become your enemies,” reads another.
With all of the outrage online, the Jodable app has been removed from social media and is no longer available for download, but it still presents an undeniable issue within South Asian culture: casteism.
It’s quite unbelievable that in 2021, a dating app was created to fill a gap in the Indian dating market, where people can find connections based on caste, in order to “prevent a potential later hardship from their families.”
It’s no surprise that there is a lot of pressure around finding a lifelong partner that can live up to familial expectations, especially coming from a culture laden with so many rules on when, where, and whom one can date.
Some deal with the pressure by hiding their entire dating life from their families, while others succumb to the pressure and are forced to put their parent’s desires before their own.
But this app is certainly not the solution.
With the slogan, “Say no to dating, say yes to Jodable friendships,” the app Jodable believes that dating within one’s caste will “lift a weight” off one’s parents’ shoulders.
If parents don’t approve of who their child is with, it can have many repercussions including being disowned from one’s family and in extreme cases, honour killings, that still take place.
This disapproval from parents can be based on anything from the person's skin colour, gender, sexuality, education, career, or caste.
These are deep rooted issues that are not going to be changed with an app that literally makes a profit off of this division.
As if that wasn’t worse enough, when creating an account with Jodable, one must include their parent’s names because it “gives the other end a greater feeling of confidence that [their] caste is indeed what [they] claim it to be.”
Because nothing screams romance like, “my mom said I should marry you.”
An important question to ask is how strong can a connection be if it's based on a concept derived from division?
Caste is an outdated and problematic system which has burdened many people for hundreds of years. It is an extremely harmful social hierarchy that puts people into boxes and limits their potential.
In this instance with the Jodable app, it’s no different.
Love is not something that is bound by skin colour, caste, or any other social categorizations that humans have created. It can happen where you least expect it, and with someone who you may not have even considered a suitable partner at first.
When searching for someone to spend the rest of your lives with, there are many more important aspects to consider rather than caste or your parent’s opinions.
The creators behind Jodable believe that “happy marriages come from the same community,” and that’s clearly not true, because this does not inherently guarantee success.
Happy marriages come from trust, communication, understanding and respect. Physical location or one’s parents' backgrounds doesn’t and shouldn’t hold much weight.
We must learn to live our lives for ourselves, not for our parents, and certainly not because of societal expectations or pressures.
We should instead strive to build relationships that we are proud of internally, and not one’s that are based on what society will think and/or accept.
Because frankly, at the end of the day, the partnership that we spend the rest of our lives nurturing matters a lot more than the opinions of people who will not eat with you, pray with you, or help pay your bills.
It should be a relationship that’s built on a foundation of love and positivity.
If that’s what we all aim for as the future generation, we have a solid chance to end the cycle of division and hate that has negatively impacted and controlled our lives for so many years.
Just remember that we can be the change we envision for our future, and that love always wins.
About the author: Manisha is a writer and reporter with previous radio and television experience, who is passionate about connecting audiences to the stories and voices that matter to them most. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha
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