4 min read

oh man...

I really hope I end up on the other side of today’s post without leaving any sexist hue on my persona. Fingers crossed though. Here goes…

I happen to be a man who is very particular when it comes to interacting with women. For me, women have the highest claim on a man’s respect and goodness. That too, regardless of the situation and association the two may be in, with each other.

This might come across as confusing but, trust me, what I am trying to say is fairly simple.

Chivalry, once, used to be the defining trait in men. A man’s etiquette was considered his most significant asset. The demeanor in which he approached, talked to and behaved with women underlined his decency. In fact, the very way male members of the society carried themselves about their routines displayed their unflinching mannerism at large.

Dude, come on, what age are you referring to here. Relax! Like they say, times are a changing…

Time, indeed, is changing. It always does. Always should. That is how the human kind has been evolving since forever. But while this progression has come to see the best in men in almost every aspect, I wish I could make the same compliment on their evolved character too. Sadly, they seem to have tremendously fallen back in this area.

Over time, instead of matching the bar of his courtesy with that of her rising self-awareness, he chose to bog her down with his insolence. Where he should’ve walked right beside her as a proud equal, he opted to maim her in her tracks. Let alone being of support to her, he couldn’t even let her be.

Today, I see men constantly overstepping their bounds with women around them. You simply do not talk to a friend like you talk to a professional colleague, and you do not talk to a professional colleague like you talk to the lady you are romantically engaged with. Why has it become so difficult for men to make sense of their relationships? Is it really so hard to respect each association with the opposite sex separately, in its own rightful way?

It seems as if there is this ‘O, I am a super star’ persona hidden somewhere inside every male, squirming to burst out in all force every time a woman is around. Oh and, we’ve all heard Mr. Trump’s thoughts on the privilege of being a star, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p****. You can do anything.”

You’re going a bit overboard here man. You can’t use an extreme example like this for all men.

I figured you’ll say that. I know, all men do not share Trump’s thoughts. But I do still stand by the idea of super star mindset. It has nothing to do with being educated or cultured – it is, all in all, a man thing!

Here’s what Indira Nooyi, the last C.E.O. of PepsiCo had to say, “When you become a C.E.O. and you’re a woman, you are looked at differently…You are held to a different standard. There’s no question about it.” She was talking to the Freakonomic Radio in 2017 while she was still the C.E.O. of one of the largest multinationals. She went on to say, “I think this group of women C.E.O.s, all of us, are going through that right now. Hopefully, as the numbers get bigger—and I hope they do—nobody’s looking at us as women C.E.O.s but just as leaders of big enterprises. I hope that day comes sooner than later.(Here is NewYorker's take on this)

Just imagine this coming from someone listed at 13 on Forbes list of World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2014 and a year later, in 2015, named as second most powerful woman on Fortune list.

What exactly is so superior in us men that gives us the right to doubt and look down on the abilities of a woman? Or is the mere idea of a strong woman so intimidating for us that we subconsciously start downplaying their contributions - no matter how gigantic?

Can’t really say…You’ve put me in a deep mode here too!

I believe it is the inborn ‘provider & caretaker’ instinct that keeps the chauvinist super star male alive in us. It is this mindset that affords man the leverage to treat a woman however he likes – as if she is meant to be at his behest. Even worse is how from the very early days of our making sense, the world unfolds before us as a layered societal system where dads get to do everything important and moms are just there to provide the essential support (in the house, and outside too) while looking up to their husbands. We see how moms manage to keep everything together without being duly accredited, if ever. Later on, as we grow in to the deeper layers of society, we experience the same hierarchy in the ‘politically correct’ environments of our schools. Deeper still, the same overarching mindset of male dominance prevails in our workplaces as well. Few more years in the system and tada! Here we have an well educated, groomed adult man all seasoned to become the ‘provider & caretaker’ of a new family and an educated girl all set to assume the role of another supportive wife!

Seasoned in this rut, every time it sees a woman become more successful, the male ego just shatters. She, continuing to aim high while reaching her goals on her own, challenges his super image. Hence start his efforts to remind her of the typical compromising woman she was originally meant to be – all dependent on his support.

And the life goes on.

A never-ending loop then?

I definitely hope not! The loop has already started to break. We hear women speaking up now. We see men beginning to realize the inherent wrong of the status quo. But it is going to be one long voluntary struggle. That too, a very destructive one. It requires deconstructing man’s belief system and rewiring it back together again.

The man needs to realize that his masculinity lies not in overpowering and curbing but in supporting optimistically. Remember, she is strong enough to carry and feed you in her womb for nine months on her own – a feat incomparable in every way. It’s you who needs her, not the other way around!

Regard her high; respect her – let life unfold in her, and her in life.

How very feminist!

Ah! There you go. Spare the labels please. To achieve any of the lasting changes, we need to rework an entire generation without getting carried away in the wave of trending social media hashtags and buzzwords.

Talking of which, by the way, here is one of the most meaningful talks on Feminism. Deeply inspiring and brilliantly balanced, Chimamanda Ngozi’s words resonate closely with me. I really hope you manage to connect with the meaning too.

Happy living!