Now while I won't say that the Assamese are the most liberal or just community, there is one form of misogyny that they don't practice - dowry. People do gift furniture and jewellery to their daughters when they get married, but there are very rarely any demands or even expectations, and no exchange of money. So I learned of dowry first through movies, and as so much else in Bollywood films, I thought the phenomenon was largely exaggerated and must definitely not be practised by educated people any longer.
Cut to my bschool. I'm talking to a male "friend". For some reason we speak of dowry, and he (let's call him Deepak) says he expects to get some. I am shocked and probably need some time to find words to chastise him. He defends himself, explaining that his parents had spent so much money on his education, so they should get some repayment for it. I am flabbergasted, and I argue with him for some time, to no avail. I fume for days afterwards.
We had a subject called 'Social Marketing'. We are discussing spreading awareness of social issues in class, and I speak up. I mention that a friend is intent on taking dowry: how do I convince him to change his mind? (Deepak is not in the same class.)
The class has a discussion, though I don't get much concrete help. I don't mention Deepak's name in class, but I do mention it to at least one friend outside class.
Now my friend "Sneha" and another friend meet Deepak one evening a day or two later. Sneha's friend confronts Deepak on his dowry aspirations. A heated debate ensues. Deepak presents the same 'return on investment' argument he had made to me earlier, and the other young man responds somewhere on the lines of, "So your parents produced you so they could earn off you? How many more such investments have they made?"
At this point Sneha steps in as peacemaker and after Deepak leaves, criticises her friend for getting too personal. Soon after, she tells me about it.
I am extremely pleased that I am not the only one who fights lost causes. And I am glad that this other guy who spoke up against Deepak is someone I admire and respect.
I remembered this incident a couple of days ago. And I was struck at the fact that of all the 150 people in our class, there were just two people who confronted Deepak. Two people who were friends, but who hadn't spoken on this matter to each other. It seemed oddly fatalistic.
You see, the other person who confronted Deepak was the Guy.