I use the term friends relatively loosely, to include friends, brothers, cousins, uncles, nephews etc etc. Of course I write within an Indian context, but what I say may have a larger relevance too…..
First of all, congratulations, you must be among the earliest generations of men who are living in a society where there is some attempt at woman’s empowerment (and I mean generations in a truly historic, generation sense, viz a viz the origin of man and woman).
Oh, did I say congratulations!!! Sorry, I should have said commiserations. For of course, most of you view power as a zero sum game. Therefore empowerment of women must of course mean dis-empowerment of you guys. This is a threat to masculine identity, to masculine authority, to man’s god given right to lord it over women. Of course, there are no possibilities of mutual respect. If you seek to empower women, it means you are snatching away our power and therefore you are enemy number 1.
Agreed, you have a difficult role to fulfill. You are perhaps not genetically programmed to accept women as equals. You have no role models. All through history, men have easily lorded it over women and no questions asked, and then suddenly to ask you guys to make the adjustment is ridiculous. Why shouldn’t you have your share of fun.
Some of the most shocking stuff you guys have to put up with (I am making a generalized list, I am sure with some variations, most of you have faced similar stuff)
1. Your lady classmate got better marks than you. Of course girls are muggers plus they suck up to teachers, what else do you expect?
2. Your lady classmate got a job offer before you. Of course girls always get placed first. The male recruiters are hoping to lay them.
3. Your lady colleague got a promotion. Of course, the slut is sleeping with the boss.
4. Your marriage proposals are rejected by women and their parents who demand that you have super duper education and earn a six figure salary. Damnit, instead of me asking for a dowry commensurate with my qualifications, how dare my qualification become a criteria on which my suitability as a groom is evaluated.
5. Wife expects you to help out at home. What the hell does she think? Lazy bum. My grandmother was not like that.
6. Laws like Dowry Prohibition and against Domestic Violence are all ok, but do you know how much they can be misused ????? Of course the lives of the women who succumbed to dowry harassment or live in daily hell of domestic violence need not be considered. Of course the fact that for every 99 percent of its correct use, there is one percent of misuse need not matter. Of course the fact that despite these laws, women face systems which are still shaped by patriarchal norms where it is not any easier for her to seek justice for domestic violence than it is for rape does not matter.
But you know guys, things are not so bad for you. Let me give you a small list of things to be thankful for.
Most of you are probably born in relatively affluent families at a time when your parents could afford to support even daughters. They were able to ensure adequate nutrition and care for both sons and daughters. They even ensured appropriate education for both. But in slightly different family circumstances…..
Your sisters may not have been born.
Even if they were born, they may not have survived beyond childhood.
That had they survived childhood, they may not have got an education.
Ok, so you think these are not reflective of your families. So here is a list of stuff from your own circumstances which must make you feel happy…….
1. Your wife is still far more likely to give up her job, or adjust her job based on marriage requirements than you are.
2. Wives who stay with the husband’s family are praised. Husbands, forget about staying, even if they are too friendly to the wives family are laughed at.
3. A daughters marriage still has the capacity to drive the parents to indebtedness. Parents of girls still need to save up for her marriage almost from birth. And the popular curse may you have a hundred daughters and may they all marry well, has not yet been changed to may you have a hundred sons. Having sons of course is the supreme blessing.
4. During the wedding you and your family still have the authority to demand things as ladke wale. You can criticize the venue, the food, the orchestra.
I could go on and on, but I think you will agree that your blessings are still considerable. Enjoy them, boys!!