You may well have heard of the ‘Taj Mahal’. Anyway google on that term now and you will find plenty of material to study. The wikipedia entry begins with:
“The Taj Mahal, meaning “Crown of the Palace”, is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.”
The central theme of the story of the construction of the Taj Mahal is generally one of romance, combined with accounts of the massive technical and logistic task of building such a structure at that point in history.
But in terms of romance, this fable is most often said to be about a man utterly devoted to the memory of the woman he loved (pictured below). Sweet. But I knew that there had to be more to it than that. I need the truth. I had to find the feminist perspective. So back to google and this time I typed “taj mahal feminism” into the search field.
My first stop was ‘Feminism and Taj Mahal – Nothing about love‘, snippets of which included:
“Unfortunately, this was not the only and will not be surely the last case of sub-human and maltreatment of a woman but glorified nation wide”
“As a nation, Indians choose to not only ignore but also glorified and connived in the perpetration of crime against woman.”
“In this case we do not care to challenge the stereotype of ‘love’ or ‘devoted good woman’ propaganda by eminent historians, scholars and fringe groups. Led by ‘biased and fixed’ and apparently immunized in favour of pervasive social malpractices, our political class also rave and rant it as a ‘love symbol’.”
And on and on it went. I knew it. Clearly this was a female experience that went way beyond oppression. One that had been sanitised by wave after wave of patriarchal running dogs (historians).
Next up was ‘The awfully unromantic Taj Mahal‘, snippets of which included:
“engaged to him when she was merely 14” … “To be the number one pick of a man’s harem, surely is not any woman’s idea of romance” … “was she only a detached vagina and womb, a sex toy to him, and not a real person whose body, health and welfare would register in his consciousness in any way?”
And we could read on as there’s plenty more tomes of wisdom such as these, but most likely by now the clouds of confusion have parted. That poor girl. That beastly man.
Well anyway, whether this be a fable of romance or something much more sinister, what’s the bet that a man never has, and never will, build a structure like the Taj Mahal for a feminist.
Should feminists wish to loudly cheer that proposition, then by all means they should go ahead and do so.
I pity them. And there’s a good chance that, sooner or later, that’s a feeling they’ll come to recognise.