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Men Are Men Because of Women

A good friend went through a harrowing experience on the streets of Bangalore recently where she received unsolicited attention from a biker who probably thought that a single woman romancing the rain was in need for support or attention. In her anguished post on a social platform, my friend stated the obvious and wondered whether it was too much to expect safety and security for women from the males of our species.

This got me thinking. What makes the males assume a privileged position in the world? Is it because they’re stronger physically? Which begs the question whether this was so even in the stone ages? Or how is it that only among homo sapiens this is so? We don’t see this difference in the animals, do we? A Lion and a Lioness are physically on par, which probably explains why the males in other mammals refrain for forcing their sexual attentions on the females of their species. They could get their balls bitten off, if they tried!

No, it is just not about strength alone, though the males often display it to have their way with the females. I think it is more about how the man is nurtured by the woman in childhood. The mother, especially in the Indian context, creates an inequal playing field at home where the boy is made to feel special. Soon enough he starts feeling privileged, because his own mother (a woman) makes him feel so. With this feeling when he goes out in the world, he believes that he just has to ask, and he’d get.

In my own home, I saw a different scene play out as a child. My dad worked with the government and so did my mother, who happened to be a post-graduate in Economics from the 1940s. So, she was as much the breadwinner of the family as dad, who wouldn’t think twice before cooking lunch in the morning for the three of us, even as my mom would hand me the mop to clean the house. She was the first to leave home at 7.30 AM followed by me at 8.30 AM and dad at 9.00 AM.

In the evenings, I would be the first one home. As a 10-year-old, I had the task of cleaning the house (second round), folding the washed clothes and even cutting veggies if there was a note to that effect on the fridge. My mom was home next and she’d go about making dinner and once dad was home it was family time. No television as there wasn’t anything to watch barring on Wednesdays (Chitrahaar) and Sundays (movie). Since my mom gave me this important lesson in life, I never ever came to feel any level of privilege over the opposite gender.

During my thirty years of marriage, I was as much the cook and maid as my wife was the bread-winner. Our roles changed based on ground zero circumstances and was never ever linked to our gender. And today, my two children have grown up with equal privileges where my son makes excellent pizzas and my daughter cooks when she feels like. There is nothing that they “have to do” because the gender relates to it. They do so as a responsiblity to the unit that is called family.

So, where do things go wrong? In my experiments with psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), I have realised that the human species has both masculine and feminine traits in them. Somehow our society makes us believe that these qualities are gender-specific. So, a man cannot cry and a woman cannot scream! To bubble up one side of the behavior the other needs to be suppressed.

Nothing could be more specious than this argument.

Because, as humans we haveĀ  behaviour polarities. And, these need to be celebrated, not baulked at. Every feeling that arises within us is of immense value as it helps us go through various situations in life. By making a female believe that anger isn’t good, the parents could be indirectly responsible for her falling prey to sexual abuse.

The only way to make my friend’s dream come true is to catch ’em young. Explain the ways of nature and let them grow beyond the introjections from the family and society.

Give them a chance to individuate for that’s the only way a healthy society can be created.

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