THE PREJUDICIAL INDIAN MALE

As I exited the theatre after watching the eristic Pink, I was reminded of Samuel Johnson’s quote, “I hate mankind, for I think myself to be one of them, and I know how bad I am”. In this case, I replaced “mankind” with “an Indian male”. To say that the movie unsettled my psyche would be a total understatement! It literally caught hold of my moral collar and gave me an ethical shake-up, while awakening me with some slaps of reality. It raised many questions on some of the conformist views about women that I had harboured during my boyhood, and I have no shame in admitting that it made me feel acutely guilty about these afore-mentioned views. Of course, having two powerful women in my life now (though she turns eleven next month, my daughter is a handful already), has taught me a lot of important lessons in respecting women – the movie only enhanced this sense of reverence and admiration.

The movie reiterates the fact that the average Indian male is one of the most pampered species. As a child, the mother mollycoddles him into believing that he is the most important genus of this world, and his sisters are unwittingly coaxed into believing this. Mothers generally go overboard to ensure that their wishes are fulfilled, even before they can think of one. In an average Indian household, a son failing to do well academically is conveniently overlooked, with one of his aims being landing of a beautiful trophy-wife. After the son “acquires” this wife, it is then her “duty” to continue the feeding his male ego while serving the family as an unpaid servant, while “manufacturing” sons to propagate the lineage. This is not true for every Indian household, but is more of a rule than an exception.

But even among the majority of the highly educated Indian, this discrimination, which everyone avoids discussing and even denies outright, continues. Regrettably, female foeticide is a prevalent reality all across India… even in ostensibly “progressive” states like Tamil Nadu (check the reports online). Most of it has to do with the traditionally patriarchal society that India surreptitiously takes pride in. Traditionally ancestral chauvinism that he is superior to females in all aspects, has somehow got entrenched into the Indian male consciousness. It is drilled into their minds from nonage itself that men are bread-winners, and that all their appalling excesses, including the execrable practice of wife-beating, is not only acceptable but pardonable too. Some of my friends (high positions-holders in reputable organizations) prevent their wives from taking up jobs (however highly qualified she is), only because he does not want her to be ogled at or commented on by other men! Then there are certain people I know from the lower economic strata who have the excuse that they do not want to be seen living off their wives (even if they are unemployed themselves). Indian men seem to have this misconception that their mother and sister(s) are the only chaste women in the world (a point effectively portrayed in the movie), and that every other woman is easy game. Bottom-pinching, fondling and touching women inappropriately is acceptable conduct for these men. To some extent, our movies and TV serials are somewhere responsible for this. Except a few, most movies or serials have the male protagonist openly molesting the heroine and serenading her with songs that have near-vulgar lyrics. After some perfunctory protests the heroine gives in to the hero’s wiles, which leads the masses in our hinterlands (and some urban roadside Romeos) to falsely assume that this is acceptable. Barring a few, I am yet to come across a movie or serial which has a strong heroine capable of fighting back (literally and metaphorically). To all of the above behavior we have to say NO (which in the movie, Mr Bachchan has clarified as being a sentence in itself)!

Some men have been gloating on various social forums that ultimately it is a “male” lawyer who saves the girls. To counter this, I can say that ultimately it is a “female” mother who gave birth to you, so by the same yardstick should you not respect all women? In another thoroughly misogynistic post, a female friend of mine (from Delhi) tried to justify the actions of the antagonists (most male friends comprehensively trolled her for this), saying that the girls too were to be blamed for the “incident”. This coming from a female alarmingly proves that the bigoted Indian mindset is not changing even at a testudinal pace. But being a die-hard optimist, I see hope in the younger generation, who seem interested in just achieving their goals, rather than being bothered about something as trivial as dogmatism.

Under normal circumstances a man can bear a maximum of 45 Dels of pain, whereas women bear up to 57 Dels of pain during childbirth! Why would any sane man want to add to their pain by being a pain? I usually appeal to all my readers, but in this post I would appeal to my male friends that it is now time for all of us men to seriously clear the cobwebs of our mind…

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