Convenient Dichotomies

I am often confused with a misogynist. It is as much a tragedy as my frequent association with being a misanthrope. I love women too much to ever hate them and I have immense faith in mankind (not human beings) to despise them. But fairness rules and my role of a paladin brings me brickbats. All in good cheer!

A recent trip with friends (mostly acquaintances) convinced me that women find it extremely convenient when guys fawn over them and will receive every act of subservient yielding, with gusto though quick to proudly claim that they don’t ever seek favours from men. I am fortunate in being allowed the escape of a not-so-mute observer and thinker and hence am rarely called upon to perform the job of a lackey or to bestow condescending favours. The women in the group were delighted to have doors opened for them (innocuous) and bills picked (cheap) and luggage hauled (dainty) and errands run (too important) by the boys that I found the whole thing decreasingly obnoxious and increasingly amusing. The girls actually had the boys fetch their shoes from the shoe rack outside the temple. The boys had no sense of self-respect and were more than happy to be at the beck-and-call of their ladies. The ladies, without bothering to wonder whether they were taking advantage of the “niceness” of the boys, enjoyed their well-served existence. I imagined reversing roles: If girls were ordered around and tossed off when the job was done and made to run errands and taken “advantage” of because the guy knew that she had a crush on him, how would the “forward” thinking world look at it? They would call the men chauvinists, brutes, old-fashioned, conservative and few other things depending on their mood and mettle of their tongue. But these girls are just called cute (though amongst themselves some are bitches and some are desperate or more, again depending on the pH level of the tongue).

One thing that I never understand is the notion of footing bills. I pay when a woman accompanies me (tragedy lies in the fact that I even pay when some guys accompany me) and if I don’t then I am cheap. If the girl was not earning a living or something like that, one might even consider that as a passable case (but then how do you explain the ready money available to her when she has to buy things for herself like trinkets to hang from her ear or that mobile which rings in so many tunes?). I find it immensely pointless that women who earn their income believe that they should never foot the bill. If the assumption is that their mere presence has paid for their share of the evening’s expenses I can’t laugh enough. I have rarely been with a girl who leaned over, slapped my hand off and took the bill (one girl was from West Bengal, the other lives in Bombay and one potentially solid girl now resides in Mysore). I always wondered whether they never felt cheap walking out of a restaurant without even offering to go dutch.

Pampering a girl is different. I think it is merely a special case of pampering someone you like (love is a convoluted topic). I pamper my nephew, my kid (I call her that because her parents call her my kid), my dear friends, a few wonderful women whom I have met (and they are genuinely few enough to count on one hand) and most children. My lovely friend who has been with me since we were 11 and 9 respectively, and who now is a father to lovely little girl, is someone I love to pamper. Pampering in these cases is not a stereotype and is hence, treated differently.

A dear friend of mine said, “Come on, E. Guys enjoy doing these things for girls. It is one of the small pleasures of life.” I think he meant “small pleasure of the Mating Game”. I had written a long article (and I am accused of never writing anything short!) about the Mating Game when I was in school. It is lost (because I wrote on loose sheets of paper) though you surely don’t need an article to bring to light what is commonly available to an interested pair of eyes. I accommodate the Mating Game as an inevitable ritual performed at various levels (from Casanova to Seth Ganshyam Das of Tijoriwali Gali in Allahabad whose Mating Game starts and ends in a burp) but when it becomes a stereotype, graduating into a sense of etiquette and hardening as a norm of social life, then, my dear friend, it becomes annoying to my senses. I have lent my jacket to a girl (and I still have a picture of her) though I cogitate that I would have done the same for a frail framed guy, too. I have done things which clearly fell into the bucket of the MG (btw, that is not what M.G. Road in Bangalore, stands for) so the issue is not about the MG. It is about what groups of people are “expected” to do.

Recently, on a trip, I noticed how women (on the train) assume that they will be treated specially. They assume that someone will surely help them load their luggage or give them their chosen seat. A woman had actually occupied my seat and when I arrived told me to take the other one elsewhere because she wanted to sit with her family. Of course, if I don’t mind. Point is, isn’t it decency to stay in your seat and then ask instead of occupying first and then offering an option to me!? Even in queues (and once at a petrol station) women seem to assume that it is ok to rush ahead. A friend once told me “Come on, E. Try standing throughout the day on high heels and waiting in a queue!” What? Women were born with high heels? So if I wore riding boots with 3 inch heels, I will be allowed to the front of a queue?

There is no questioning that women are not often built for physically strenuous jobs and have to juggle (often, though not always) multiple roles and responsibilities. But these are individual choices. As much as a child cannot be delivered without the due gestation period so required is the necessary physical, mental and psychological abilities for a job. Dagny Taggart didn’t use her womanhood to get the job done. It was sheer ability. I simply adore women who can do a job the way it should be done without acting cute and batting eyelashes. It is, hence, an individual’s choice. If work in the quarry is not your cup of tea then don’t go there. To join the quarry and insist that women should be given greater privileges and shorter work hours and lesser loads to lift is ridiculous. So be it with a job as a scientist in a lab. I will not give you the culture in my petri-dish just because you are 6 months pregnant (what is growing in the dish is at least my effort). If you can’t juggle many things, choose. There are tonnes of women who give up a family for the sake of a career and conversely. There are men who also care for the family and buy the grocery and take out the garbage while putting the baby to sleep. Does the woman of the house get up to give him the only chair in the room?

So a woman likes to have doors opened for them and seats on buses offered to them but will not tolerate a man saying, “They are weak humans.” They want men to be chivalrous while they cry sore about women’s lib.

A woman will love to have her dinner paid for, and her movie tickets bought but will hate it if she were told that she needed his money or was dependent on his money.

A woman enjoys receiving gifts and baubles and surprises but will not accept that she can’t even think of getting her guy some nice gift as a surprise. After all, “What can you get a guy? They are so boring!”

A woman likes to quote the traditional role of the male as protector and provider till he has expectations of her; then she quickly chants the virtue of the modern liberated man who doesn’t hold old-fashioned notions of roles based on sex or creed. Equality is, then, something that makes sense only when it is in favour of one person.

Men are not to be pitied as long as they enjoy being fools. It is when women assume that men are there for doing their work or earning for their entertainment or free for their whims that the otherwise simple acts in a relationship appear vulgar. So be it when men make similar assumptions of women (though most men don’t think that their wives earn for their entertainment, some think that their wife is entertainment!). At the risk of sounding repetitive, it is about a sense of Rightness. When there is respect for the other person, when there is a genuine affection for the other person, when there is respect for oneself, when one truly cares about the relationship and the various facets to it, there is action borne out of a genuine goodness and Rightness which doesn’t crumble to petty convenient exploitation or, as a girl aptly said, “timepass”. It would be such a delight to be with a woman who would take me out to dinner, too. Or help me pack my luggage or let a guy sleep on her shoulder or lap (has to be some other guy because I can never do that!). Or bought me a bottle of ink because I have just exhausted mine.



13 thoughts on “Convenient Dichotomies

  1. Why do you love 'women' so much or have such faith is 'mankind'? All your posts on both these subjects make an oxymoron of the second sentence of this particular blogpost.

    # When you give up your obsessing over human beings' negatives or positives as human beings, be they women or men, and once for all conclude that the human race as a whole is meant to be completely obliterated thanks to their own innate destructive nature, and that it is best to see whether you can get a comfortable place in the shuttle that will take us to the next species, you will keep on lamenting, criticising, venting all your ire, justified though it is, in your poor blog.

    # All and every thing to do with human nature is utterly BORING. Except may be for their work, if and when it is done well.

    # Your post is true of course in all its observations – both men and women lack a crystal purity that a strong self-esteem gives them and wallow in such murky waters of idiotic and exploitative and shameless/shameful behaviour, trivial though the actions and the contexts may be…

  2. I kind of agree with whatever is being said. Personally I am not too fond of chivalry as it undermines my own individuality. And I also do not approve of using feminine wiles to get things done. Of course, if you need help, in whichever way possible, all you have to do is ask, no matter what the gender. Women need to start acting like normal beings if they want to “do everything that a man does” or whatever that is. Men must stand up for themselves too and not fall for these cheap tricks.

  3. Dear P,
    Very pertinent questions and if I was lazy I would simply agree with you and walk on. People matter because I have to deal with them. I have faith in Mankind because though human beings and their pettiness is the root of all problems, they are the only ones (other than Gaia) who can solve these problems. The world is distributed between people who create problems and people who wish to explore, understand and solve these problems. Hence, the faith in Mankind is immense. We are probably the only animal which can solve problems created by any other creature as well as tackle challenges that Nature might present. For their sheer intellect, wisdom, breadth, creativity and genius, I have faith in Mankind.
    Why do I like women? Because they can be beautiful in ways that not many men can. They can be utterly vicious in uncomparable ways too. It is the possibility in Mankind and women that attract me to them. I cannot deny that their sheer physicality, sensuality and sheer range of behavioural traits attract me too. Some women are a delight in many ways. Undoubtedly, they are some who are entirely disgusting and base. So be that with men, but men (statistically) are less inclined to variety and hence, I am not attracted to men (though I adore men in my company who are variegated and multi-faceted/talented). Hence, life's lesson from bees: pick your flowers after the first sip. Some have nectar in them and some were recently visited by a dog who lifted his leg!
    I don't find human behaviour boring because it challenges my intelligence and creativity. I find them tiring at times but the sheer challenge of solving things and better understanding motivations and under-currents of base human drivers fascinates me.
    Glad you found the post true in its intent.

    Dear V,
    You were also one of the only persons who agreed with a long article I wrote on a similar subject a while ago. I respect your sense of fairness. I never quite understand why people want to do something that another person does rather than do what they truly enjoy doing! If you notice, men usually tend to be all sweet and understanding and all that till they get their girl. Once they are married, most of that fizzles out and the typical behaviours creep in. Women too, act very sweet and concerned and all that till they get their guy and after that they hardly care much… So this deviousness of human beings is rife!

  4. Your 'old attempt' indeed brings a smile on my lips. Were you of a lighter temperament in those halcyon days of the golden period of your blog, I wonder…As I have mentioned before too, I do miss the 20-30 comments from vigorous and youthful minds that thronged your blog then, as I am sure you too must be doing.

    # Keep toggling between love for man because of the potential or evident good in him and disappointment and irritation if not anger and grief at the flaws in him and fundamental wrongs that he commits.

    # Sorry – I refute your praise for women; except for physiological differences between man and woman, which you may find fascinating and attractive, but surely you cannot call that love, I refute strongly your statement that women have some special ingtangible qualities that make them all loveable. I think men and women choose to be good or bad to put it crudely, and it is independent of their gender.

    # The fundamental thread of human nature is not difficult to decipher at all. That is why it is not challenging to me – basic needs, interesting occupations, maybe a few and far between greats that traverse the whole spectrum of consciousness from completeness in material life as against fulfilment in spirituality too.

    You ask for too little, may I be presumptuous enough to declare, and may be get it too from human beings and women and hence the satisfaction with them, when it is there, and pain when they do not offer you even that basic little as in human decency or basic fairness.

    Let me stop my jabber here itself…and now itself.

  5. Dear P,
    Those were indeed golden days. Joy mirth and lots of eager bloggers!
    I don't need to toggle: the duality is abundantly on display and one cannot refuse or accept one over the other. It is just like with animals: we take their beauty along with their dumbness or attitude (as with cats ;-).
    I do not call anything Love (according to my sense) but love as it is commonly accepted to be. Let us not pit our wits on that. In the common sense it is safe to use that word for anyone and anything.
    There are women who bring a tenderness and softness which is rare in masculine conduct. Some women bring a sensitivity to things which is uncommon amongst men. So if I were to take men and women as two sets of sample data and study the prevalence of tenderness, sensitivity, appreciation for fine things, connecting to people etc. then they are more likely to be a greater likelihood of finding them amongst women. There are some nasty traits (insecurity, jealousy, pettiness, etc.) that is also more likely to be prevalent amongst women. So gender differences definitely exist and you could research that topic. It is as clear as the huge difference in gender distribution in the sciences and technology (ask us software engineers about it!).
    If your sieve is too wide then perhaps human beings don't interest you. I like to go into greater depths and hence, it is interesting.
    If you think that my “love” for women and Mankind is based on my asking then you are mistaken. They provide the entertainment whether I live or not. It is like watching the El Nino! You have hastily rushed into concluding that these things give me satisfaction. You are thoroughly mistaken and I am not sure where you inferred getting satisfaction in all that I wrote. Indecency pains me as it pains anyone and everyone I know. Not sure what is so unique about that in me.

  6. It is not possible to go into greater depths when the water space you assume to be an ocean is only a shallow puddle. Humanness of human beings is thus. It is only when they touch the heights beyond their humanness, do they interest.

    # Absolutes in intangibles based on gender do not exist; whatever be the research or their differing findings at different points in time, to make sweeping generalisations as I love women because of supposedly a majority of them being this or that goodness is funny. Taking every human being individually helps.

    # Rudeness, unfairness, discourtesy, lack of a humaneness – all encapsulated in ' indecency' are eventually taken as a part of human nature itself, and all of us take it as a fact of life too; not many feel strongly enough or are affected deeply enough to write heartfelt 20 comprehensive, solid, long, huge posts under a massive fat label BEING HUMAN.

    I suspect that you are pained much much more than an average adult is at superficial indecencies that may not even skim another person's sensibilities..

  7. A random quote which might make sense if you look at it the right way [ and I cannot explain that! :)]

    How can the divine Oneness be seen? In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders, awe-inspiring miracles? The Tao is not obliged to present itself this way. If you are willing to be lived by it, you will see it everywhere, even in the most ordinary things LAO TZU

  8. If I may intrude with a response to what you have said, here, Pingu,which essentially proclaims that all is the Divine, there is another quote from the Gita where the Supreme declares that the Divine on Earth is what is perfect Perfection here, as clearly stated in all the verses starting from the 20th to the 40th verse of Chapter 10. Do read all of them starting from this link to later ones.

    To give just a glimpse,

    ” Of the Vedas, I am the Sama Veda, of the senses, I am the mind, of the commanders I am Kartikeya, of the reservoirs of water I am the ocean, of all the divine sages, I am Narad Muni, of lordly elephants, I am Airavatha, of humans the King, of all the animals I am the lion, of the birds, I am Garuda, of the swift I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons, I am Rama, of the flowing rivers, I am Ganga, of the poetic metres I am Gayathri, of the seasons I am spring, of the Pandavas I am Arjuna, of the sages I am Vyasadeva etc etc.

    ” Certainly wherever and whatever is majestic, beautiful or magnificent, you must certainly know that all these manifestations arise from but a fraction of My Glory.”

    # I suspect that there are two fundamental truths of spirituality,
    one is what you have quoted from Lao Tzu as all is the one Divine Consciousness, and the other is that on Earth and in manifestation this Divine Consciousness is a constantly evolving perfection in time and in space, whereby a present state of 'imperfection' can be criticised or if not criticised or condemned, its inferior qualities as exhibited by its errors and ill consequences in rightness and fairness can be discarded and fairer means that lead to a better harmony, but in truth and rightness can be expounded.

    1. All is the Divine. This is an essential fundamental truth and an absolute
    2. All becomes the Divine in the most outward and external manifestation too. This is in time as a growth from a lesser way of being to a more enlightened way. God too becomes in matter and material life.

    The second fact justifies every single thought, discussion, debate that elucidates more and more, better and better ways to actually enable the Divine that is everything to actually be seen thus in matter too.

    If mentally I understand that all is the Divine, and hence keep silence or kill my soul when I see ugliness or unfairness, assuming that evil too is the divine, then I disable a chance for me and my context to be redeemed in a greater light.

    # Maybe the fact that I see unfairness and want it to be mitigated or annulled is also the divine and hence justified…

    # Sorry, Eroteme, about this too long a response, maybe repetitive too, in your space. But Pingu's comment evoked such a comment from me. Do bear with me…

  9. Dear P,
    Heights, depths, fat labels, thin labels. You make much of words, milady! 😉 (here I am trying to mimic Ugway) Everything about this world interests me, though with limited resources I focus on just a few things. Human behaviour, motivation, potential and spirit are some of those few. I am not amazed at the shallowness that men can demonstrate nor the depths. So I am curious for life about these bipeds with a globe of tender mass over their shoulders (here I mimic Hofstatder). I am perhaps pained much more than an average human being because I tend to be involved more than one or excited more than one or ecstatic more than one. Perhaps in excess I create a vacuum (mimicing myself).

    Dear Pingu,
    You really know the way to catch my attention. Anyone who can quote the Tao is instantly in my book of “good” people!! 😀

    Now to present my view to what P and P said. Allow me to write a post about it.

  10. A day ago, I ate some really delicious looking, even more delicious tasting 'Death By Chocolate' at Corner House.

    It has possibly become something else by now – rotting away in some abyss in some place that I do not know.

    A few days later, it might be manure, for some field in the villages of Mysore.

    A few months later, it might become emerald green paddy, smiling with pearls of rice.

    Which of this is perfect? Which of this is imperfect?

  11. :-D.

    #'You make much of words, milady! ;-)'

    – that's indeed RICH coming from the blogworld's most prolific wordsmith Eroteme (albeit as a quote from Kung Fu Panda)…

  12. Dear A,
    You go to the fields every day? 😮 So that's where you are when your wife tells me that he is spending time with Nature!! tchah tchah tchah! 😀

    Dear P,
    the blogworld is a rather large place for me to be the “most” anything out there… 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s