It’s been a while since I wrote something new; I want to accuse my cruel Graduate studies for that. It sucked the life out of me and kept me running from pillar to post. I had to dress up formally almost every day to college, suit up occasionally yada yada. I was very sincere with the whole thing you know? I would even iron my shirt and trousers, spray deodorant over my socks the previous night. Gosh! My mother would be proud of my preparedness.
Anyway a new television phenomenon seems to have hit our Indian Telly. I have respected Aamir for his gutso, dedication and sincerity to art with a faint disregard for commercialization. Dhobi Ghat, Taare Zameen Par and Lagaan were testaments to his caliber. And it is refreshing to see him take on Indian television with the same attitude.
I believe gender bias is the reason for whole female feticide episode. It has many causal effects, reduced sex ratio as shown is just tip of the iceberg. As the gender gap widens, it creates logistical problem for men. It is like studying mechanical engineering in Anna University for the rest of your life, no girls for you.
I think the issue is by large a projection of our society, our values and our culture. I want to tie this issue to my generation which grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s.I feel the change agents are my generation; hence I feel it is our moral responsibility in some way to uplift the image of our society.
I in some way was brought up in a gifted society. My parents were very educated, secular and the educational environment they provided was orthodox to say the least. My schooling was from a government school, nothing fancy. To share an example our extra-curricular activities would suck, they wouldn’t even let the boys dance with the girls in the group dance events. And mind you the dances won’t even be mildly provocative; the regular Daler Mahendi marries “My India the greatest” albums.
Let us look at some of the rules that our well educated, progressive yet orthodox society had set for us which could plague our social outlook towards women in the future.
Study well: For a majority of the guys like me who hailed from an orthodox middle class family, we didn’t have the luxury to easily befriend girls and date them at a young age. Not that the 16 year old me would send the ladies toes curling. Girls were seen as distraction to boys and parents infuse a sense of guilt if a boy is spending time loitering with girls, irrespective of the academic performance. Our teachers would report us to our parents if they found we were fooling around with a girl. In summary we were promised that girls would come eventually to us if we were successful with our academics and career. Isn’t that incredibly sexist? I bet you didn’t think so when they summoned you.
As girls are seen as an end product of success, it becomes a mild mental block to think of them as individuals. To be disappointed with the newlywed wife is akin to saying I bought this toy and it doesn’t listen to me anymore. Most guys who seriously believe that studying well is the cardinal rule to marry a hottie think again.
Imagine this scenario(Arranged marriage): Sincere boy abiding by their parents rules studies well and is at the girls house to seek the girl. Guy fantasizing that though the address is Anna naga there might be a Megan fox in this house hold dressed up in madisaar. But when ”homely” looking girl shows up and churns out dialogues like “Got 97% in tenth standard, strong communication skills and ability to make coffee while discussing editorial in Hindu” How heartbroken the guy would be. It is the same feeling that suicide bombers face after they discover that the 72 virgins are actually World of Warcraft nerds with sweaty underarms and ample acnes.
No wonder they turn out to be assholes during the marital life. (I think I might have offended both feminists and terrorists in one go. Never thought I would do this. Again.)
Think about this, we are taught to respect girls as our sisters and mothers but never as equals. We mask a hidden sense of disparity and indifference under the cloak of respect.
The problem with Elders: The show depicted women being cruelly dealt by the inlaws, some of them so uncharitable to mention in the space of this blog. Now those in laws used to be children once, what changed; what exactly went wrong? You would find sapient 50 year olds writing columns and columns of how we need to improve as a generation, but what can they say about their conduct?
We are taught to treat our elders with veneration and adulation. There is nothing wrong in that, but when respect is transposed as unquestionable faith in their decision making; it bothers me. I had a huge tiff with my parents growing up where my parents and uncles were teaching me “manners”. Often they would go about how “parents/elders know what is best for their children”. I think to use todays jargon, I trolled them big time. I was forced to attend Java and VB classes. So I asked them which language do you think would be more productive, Java or VB? The fact that I didn’t know jack shit about programming nor do I know now is not the issue here.
The “elders” stood flummoxed but I do remember hours and hours of drama after that question, because I had proved to them that elders do not know best. They know only what they have been through and even then it doesn’t grant them any authority in my decision making. There is this untold fixation with authority that plagues our elders. Now I am in no way giving tips on parenting for it would be as pointless as reading an erotica written by L.K Advani.
The social divide: In the first world countries the only place where I see a gender divide is in the public restrooms. But take a look at our country, from ticket counters to public transport to election booths. We have separate lines for men and women. Shouldn’t they be more comfortable around us as we should be around them? How long do we need moral policing and forced guidance in social etiquettes?
Societal Pressure: I am talking about dowry system. This used to be the prime culprit for female feticide as poor people couldn’t afford to pay dowry to get their daughters off married. And they thought them of as burden as they couldn’t work with them in farms. This pathetic condition still holds true in many of our villages. But are we as metropolitan cities any better?
And if you ask the parents or the girls why they agree to it they would say that in order to be a part of the society we need to do it. If your neighbor spends X amount of money on wedding, you should at least spend X+1 on it. This social imbecility has to stop sometime, but I reckon it won’t.
Educating and empowering women has shown to be a great solution to eradicating poverty and as a majority of our population still lives in villages we should embrace it. Aishwarya rai’s apparent expulsion from a movie prompts a twitteranche (avalanche + twitter) but would they hike the salary by the merest of margins if their maid got pregnant?
I want the show to put us at unease and ask uncomfortable questions which we have been avoiding for a long time. Under the aegis of technology and industrial revolution lies many a skeleton which haven’t seen the light. I hope we work towards a society where we are treated on basis of our behavior rather than our gender. Good luck Aamir and Team!