My taxi driver this morning in a passing comment told me how his father calls him every evening without fail and asks him about the money he has made in the day. While his mother’s first question on a call, classically is – if he has had his meal, followed by a balmy conversation, ranging from his daily-schedule to his future to his girl and simple joys of life. This sentiment isn’t new to any of us. Not to me. Not to you. Yet it triggered a quiet contemplation telling me that masculinity clearly is about the commerce of things. Not just the commerce of gain and loss but also the commerce of success and failure, commerce of dominance and subservience, commerce of give and take and more such transactions. However femininity seems to be ham-fisted or disinterested in economics. It seems fanatical about the balance-sheet of art of things. Be it the expression of care or angst or some other emotion.
Before you think it’s a Woman’s Day blog to badger men and glorify women, no its not – because not all women as effeminate and not all men are masculine in their bearing. Hence generalization is moot.
The central point today is, that it’s not just the women who are under a risk these days but femininity at large is challenged. Femininity within all humans, both men and women. Femininity: the faculty for aesthetics.
Metro India is now visibly happy with the girl child. But the one who is raised like a boy. We are slowly transitioning from expecting a male child to expecting masculine temperament in both genders. “Yeh beti nahi, beta hai mera” – this statement in a jiffy puts not the boys but masculinity as a preference. While all this is on, boys on the other end are continuously being told to be men, systematically disparaging every bit of effeminate quality latent within them.
Culturally India thrived in the amalgamation of twin dispositions in both the genders. There are enough mentions of men donning femininity and women invoking masculinity without any qualms. This amalgamation should never be mistaken for transformation to another gender. It’s simply throwing on femininity or masculinity for a worthy cause without losing one’s core personality.
We on the other hand, ask our boys to not show softness and ask our girls to fan their pragmatism. Think of it, are we not heading towards a masculine society that way? Masculinity: a sense of commerce, drive for dominance. Are we not toying with the societal balance by nipping femininity in both genders?
Given that women are faced by a lot of strife in their day to day lives nowadays, to be pragmatic sounds like a perfectly reasonable lesson for girls. Parent’s intent is to prepare the girls well for a grossly patriarchal Indian society. And girls find themselves pushing for parity and inclusion. Nonetheless, when is the good time for them to switch back to their effeminate side? How to identify the worthiness of a cause to summon their masculinity? These are real issues. And we see women dealing with these many a times.
We need to evaluate if we are inadvertently hoping to turn our women into men! Are we not adding more masculinity to an already patriarchal society? And the convolution doesn’t end at this. This also manifests itself in infuriating debates on patriarchy – some well-placed and others misplaced. We teach our girls to look at life as a game of dominance, and not collaboration. We don’t realize that we are the ones building a masculine society for our girls, which only knows the language of dominance. They find themselves dominated by masculine women and men, alike. The battle to outdo them involuntarily and frequently crosses the thin-line and begins to hover at the border of matriarchy. It’s not a pleasant place to be in. If patriarchy is loathsome, so is matriarchy.
We are turning into a lopsided, commercial, compassionless, dark society. Let’s save femininity within both genders before it’s too late.
PS: Femininity doesn’t imply stay-at-home-wives, compliance or subservience. Weather a woman decides to work or not isn’t society’s decision, and especially not men’s. It’s a woman’s prerogative simply because if it comes from her own desire, the chances are she has found the masculine-feminine balance in it already and hence pursuing it.
( Published by : Business Insiders , Mar 8 2017 )
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