Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and Other Inconvenient Truths

So after my last post made me sound like an enlightened life guru (if only I could follow my own advice), I decided to take a stab at something infinitely more difficult — the complex conundrum of an Indian woman’s mind and the single, double and multiple standards we impose on our men. As an Indian woman (Or girl, I’m not sure yet. No one’s called me aunty yet, so I think that’s a good sign), I feel like I’m well equipped to answer this.

Consider a typical situation. A girl is approached by a random guy in a nightclub. He’s decently dressed and the crotch of his pants is more than 5 inches off the ground and there’s nothing shiny in sight. He politely says hello and asks what her name is. Of course, being the Indian girl she is, she throws a dirty look (reasons for which will be deciphered soon) and the poor guy slinks away. Next thing you know, conversation with the girl friends ensues.

“Guys, so I was standing there at the bar and like this total creep hit on me. I mean what does he think. This is a club and I’m a good Indian girl who is at a club. How dare he?!”

Let’s evaluate. So we’ve established that the guy was not rude in any way. He didn’t come up and say, “DAT A$$” (which totally can happen by the way), but he was shot down anyway. Now in itself, this isn’t a bad thing. Personal choice of the girl in question and all that jazz. But let’s look at the double standards here.

Consider a not-so-typical but still feasible situation.  A girl is approached by a random guy in a nightclub. She doesn’t care if his hair is oiled and he has a middle parting. Why? Because he’s a foreigner and not a creepy Indian. He could come up and say “DAT A$$” and still get her number. This conversation would go something like:

“Guys, so I was standing there at the bar and this hottie hit on me. I hope he likes me and we get married and I can have cute gora babies.”

What just happened? Since he’s not Indian, he’s not threatening. Hence he is no longer the rapist all Indian men are.

Now let me point out another scenario. Girl is walking on the street. A random guy who can’t speak English very well asks her for directions in Hindi. He gets the royal brush off because “Ew, what the hell? Gavaar”

Girl is walking on the street. A random guy who can’t speak English asks her for directions. Cue effusive answers. Huh? Oh wait, he’s a white guy who doesn’t know English! How adorable! How endearing! “Oh, walk right down the lane, and take the left, and then sweep me off my feet. Or I could just take you there myself and then you could meet my parents.”

fire

True Story

The Indian girl in question has been me, several times. Guilty as charged. I’ve noticed that when I go abroad, I’m much more comfortable talking to a guy I happened to bump into on the street. I’d be thrilled in fact. If the same thing happened here, I would question his ulterior motives, because obviously he can’t just be making conversation. This is such a convoluted double standard with more than just female whims as its root cause. Growing up, we are told to be careful, to walk on crowded streets during the day, to avoid taking an auto at night, to dress conservatively, to appear diminutive — only to ward off unwanted attention. As Indian girls, we experience the leering, the catcalling, the groping and everything else that comes with the possession of lady parts. And hence, we paint the entire male population with the same brush.

I wouldn’t have noticed this, because hey, in what way is this bothering me right? Not like ignoring a guy is a crime. But I realised that the very same thing I had been doing to random guys, was happening to my own guy friends. My perfectly nice guy friends. All interactions with girls who aren’t family or friends or friends of friends, were skewed. At a bus stop, my friend once asked a girl whether the bus had arrived. She looked the other way and pretended she hadn’t heard the question. He was flummoxed and although he wouldn’t admit it, hurt.

As a society, it appears as though we are racing towards modernity. We hang out and we pseudo-date. Our dating is like getting married over and over again, conveniently without the stigma of divorce. There’s some talking, a grand proposal, I love you’s are shared and you’ve sealed the deal. It’s less dating and more a series of relationships. By its strict definition of course, dating is meeting new people outside of your usual circle of friends like the cute guy at the gym asking you out for coffee or the barista writing her phone number on your cappuccino. This doesn’t happen of course, because a. No Indian guy would dare, for fear of getting bitchslapped. b. An Indian girl dating a series of guys is a ho.  c. A strange Indian man is always a kidnapper/terrorist/rapist/animal abuser.

Its unfortunate that all the “Will u plz make frandshipz wid me” messages have ruined it for all Indian men and there are so many good ones. My girl friends and I have whined so many times, “Why can’t we meet new people?!” especially now that we’re working and our social lives are practically non-existent. But we’re still not making the changes we need to. I decided a while ago that I want to make a conscious effort to be more open minded, and cautiously hopeful that not every man has the wrong intentions. It is always scary, and at times downright stupid, but I think it’s a benefit of the doubt everyone deserves.

NOTE: I feel like I have to add a disclaimer here that this post isn’t representative of all Indian girls. I’m an urban English speaking, college educated girl and this post reflects that. Similarly, the guys I tend to bump into aren’t your typical goonda types, although I’m sure there’s an abundance of them in other parts of the country. At the end of the day, it comes down to your personal choices, and this is one I choose to make.

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14 thoughts on “Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and Other Inconvenient Truths

  1. It’s funny that you say this. When I was doing my Masters, the Indian girls I knew thought all non-Indian guys were creepy perverts and the Indian guys were infinitely rude to us. In fact they would completely blank me at times even when I was trying to be friendly and take away any Indian girl I was talking to. It really annoyed me because some of the girls were really nice but it was next to impossible to get to know them.

  2. Great insights into perspective. Clearly I am not an Indian girl, but I do get what you speak of in terms of gentle or not so gentle prejudices. I don’t mean prejudices in the way of racism, but prejudices in the definition of “a perceived way of thinking”. So Indian guys are assumed to be creepy. Same words from a non-Indian are “charming” (my words)…lol. I am guilty of doing similar things in different contexts and situations. Someone says something to me, I think it’s weird and distorted. Same words from a friend and I laugh and say “wow, that’s random stuff, dude…loved it”. huh? Same words, and even same intention. So I have learned to catch myself doing that and checking my motives and prejudices. doesn’t mean I have to like everyone all the time or be welcome as to put myself in any danger (i.e. a young woman in a club being whisked away by a strange man). Anyway, I think what you say about perception is great. Wonderful stuff.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    P.S I laughed at the “aunty” comment. My wife’s family is from Pakistan, and women of a certain age are all “aunty”. Even if we see a middle aged or older woman on the street who is South East Asian, we call her “aunty”…lol. Most of the aunties I know are lovely 🙂

    • Yes! We are so quick to accept something when it comes from our friends, but not otherwise. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but it does lead to unintentional prejudice. Haha, the aunty affliction is native to the Indian subcontinent. I hope that day never comes for me :p

  3. Wow, all your points are really well said and laid out perfectly. It is the sad state of affairs. Constantly I hear these kind of unfair generalizations of Indian men and feel so bad as I know so many kind hearted people. I’m an american living in India (mixed race but not Indian) I really enjoyed this post as I have thought about all your points before but am really not the right person to right about them, so am so glad to see it here.

    • It is unfair, and we (although I speak mostly for myself) justify this kind of narrow mindedness as self preservation. Rather than filter and sieve through the different kinds of people that exist, we’d much rather stick to the safe and the familiar. I know I’ve missed out on so many diamonds in the rough.

  4. I am an Indian guy and I need to say many things from my own experience. I have noticed that Indian girls who are good-looking have a feeling of pride and attitude and behave as though all men are their slaves. I have had many many experiences and have left a permanent imprint of unanswered questions in my mind. These experiences are both offline as well as online. Somehow, Indian women (urban educated), it seems have got it into their heads that they are superior to the men. I wonder what makes Indian women pride so much when they are not even half as beautiful as their Russian and Ukranian counterparts (although I agree beauty is relative).

    We claim that we are a gender equal society. Then why the hell should a guy approach a lady and not the other way round? Why should guys pay the dating and dining bills and not the other way? (now don’t tell me that you go dutch. Saying is different from doing and even if I assume that you do, what about the other women?). Regarding this article, its well-written. But, I also do not agree with you when you say that a guy who seeks ‘Fraandship’ is a bad guy.

    • You make some interesting points but there are some things I don’t agree with. People who consider themselves God’s gift to the world do have that attitude and this goes for men and women all over the world! I’ve had guys not give me the time of day because I wasn’t upto their standards of attractiveness. It works both ways. I really don’t think this is a gender issue or even an ‘Indian’ issue.

      I’m an ‘urban educated women’ as you put it, I don’t know why you think we consider ourselves superior to men. We have finally reached a time where we see a significant number of Indian women working, driving and doing other ‘manly’ activities.

      Do we take pride in the fact that we are making huge strides in this male driven society? Yes. Do we feel empowered that we can stay alone and work in a different city without fear? Yes. Does this have anything to do with men? No. It is just pride in our own achievements, that we are able to do things our mothers and grandmothers couldn’t do.

      We can’t claim that we are a gender equal society because we aren’t. But lets say that men and women are to be treated alike. In which case, who pays rests totally upon the individuals in question. Sure, social norm for ages has been that the man pays. But that’s not the status quo anymore.

      If a guy told me that he didn’t want to pay or couldn’t afford to pay, I would be okay with that. If he wanted to pay for my meal, I would be okay with that too. But I earn my own money. So I’d be perfectly comfortable paying for our meals. Can I speak for all women? No, I can’t. But it’s inaccurate to make a blanket generalization.

      The guys who seeks ‘Fraandship’ may not be a bad guy. However, when a person I don’t know sends messages like that after simply looking at my profile picture, I’m not going to be inclined to be friends with him. Even if he happened to be the nicest guy on the planet. That’s not how you approach a person.

      For example, a guy added me on Facebook. He sent me a message saying, “Hey, I read your blog and I like the way you write. I wrote a blog exactly like that once and it felt like you expressed my thoughts exactly.” Would this be someone I’d like to be friends with? Yes! He shares my interests and I know he’s read my work. It’s all so subjective really.

      This has become a really huge comment, but I had to give you my full two cents. Thanks for taking the time to comment though!

      • I do not agree with many many things that you have mentioned. First of all, I told you not to speak for yourself when it comes to paying bills. I have had this argument with many ladies who make such claims but when it comes to actual payment, they back out. Its real! Its my experience. What you speak here is immaterial; what you do in reality is what matters and there is a HUGE difference. Secondly, when you cannot speak for other women, why do you even need to refer to that? As a guy I know how many times I had to pay bills and how many times I was exploited. Sorry, I can’t accept your contention.

        Regarding attitude that you mentioned as not being gender specific, I again disagree. Perhaps, what you say is true to an extent. But there is no denying the truth that good-looking women have an attitude much more than their male counter-parts.

        “We have finally reached a time where we see a significant number of Indian women working, driving and doing other ‘manly’ activities.”

        That is a different debate altogether whether feminism has brought about good or bad in society To me, its definately made society worse.

        “Do we take pride in the fact that we are making huge strides in this male driven society? Yes. Do we feel empowered that we can stay alone and work in a different city without fear? Yes.”

        Again its another debate and about technology having been the cause of this so-called empowerment. But its definately NOT a male driven society as you women claim it to be. I would dispute that; contest it and I have enough reasons to do so. Rather, I would say its always a female centric society where men are made the scape goats whenever the need arises.

        “It is just pride in our own achievements, that we are able to do things our mothers and grandmothers couldn’t do.”

        Too much of corporate-fed media here. You are brain-washed to believe that mothers and grandmothers weren’t achievers. They were bigger achievers than all the achievement that you can ever imagine. Just because they didn’t mean much to the MNCs as they led simple lives didn’t mean that they were under-achievers. Turning a house into a home is a much bigger achievement than owning bungalows, cars and 10 digit packages.

        “We can’t claim that we are a gender equal society because we aren’t”

        Yep, we are habituated to pampering women…..

        “The guys who seeks ‘Fraandship’ may not be a bad guy. However, when a person I don’t know sends messages like that after simply looking at my profile picture, I’m not going to be inclined to be friends with him. Even if he happened to be the nicest guy on the planet.”

        This is one of the fundamental differences between the psychology of women and men. You cannot deny this. Women and men are different in many ways and I sometimes wonder in the correctness of gender equality itself. How can there be equality between two different creatures?

  5. Pingback: In conversation with a jaded Indian man and a dented-painted Indian woman | Quixotic Semiotic
  6. To reach the core of double standards, I think you would need to view them as inconsistencies in behavior of people(read women/men?) around you.
    Often, people tend to deviate from what they say they believe in. Instead of multiple standards, viewing them as multiple personas should help you view this is a better manner.

    I like that you are over-thinking in the right(?) direction. There are so many irrational assumptions and beliefs floating around you. You have been noticing some of them. A mind free of all biases would view itself and others just as individuals, without any fear or love or any other societal/emotional bias. Then, to understand an individual; you start filling her blank canvas with colors.

    Again, this comment is on a slightly abstract level. Let us hope(?) communicating and reflecting on all these inconsistencies around us can help us gain some clarity on the path we will travel tomorrow.

    • You know, I think your first paragraph is something I forget a lot of times while mapping my thoughts out on something. People do say a lot of things they don’t mean, and even when they do mean it they act otherwise! I think it’s an innocuous human foible that we’re all guilty of, but it definitely changes things!

      Thank you for the ‘abstract’ comment. It helps to kind of disassociate yourself and go back to get a better view you know, the big picture.

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