In conversation with a jaded Indian man and a dented-painted Indian woman

(Taken from comments made on my post, Mujhse Fraandship Karoge and Other Inconvenient Truths)

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.

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.

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.

Although I’m inclined to dismiss this as hyperbole, I’m going to answer this anyway. Why do ‘hot’ Indian girls have so much attitude? Setting aside the fact that this isn’t something that is specifically gender based, I’d like to focus on why ‘good’ looking Indian girls in particular are said to have this ‘attitude’.

Easily put, it is self preservation. The thornier the exterior, the less likely anyone is to approach. Every woman in the country has been mentally undressed at some point by leering men, and this as everyone now is well aware of, is the least of it. And of course there is the slut shaming, where a girl who has a lot of guy friends is immoral and loose, and a BAD BAD girl. No wonder then that girls (in particular the ‘good’ looking ones) would rather be ice queens than be vulnerable to this quagmire of unpleasantness. But like I said in my earlier post, it’s something that I’ve personally been working on as a part of my own effort. This gradual change in attitude needs to be augmented by changes in the very system.

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).

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.

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

Oh dear lord. To anyone who says this, all I can say is — keep your women safely locked up in the kitchen  because if you had it your way that’s where we would be. No voting rights, no right to inherit property, no right to our own reproductive choices, no protection from domestic violence and the list goes on. I see how it has made society worse.

Do we take pride in the fact that we are making huge strides in this male driven society? 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.

India is a male driven, patriarchal society. Period (oh wait, that’s a female thing).  Sigmund Freud stated that for women ‘anatomy is destiny’ and it makes me sad, because it is true. Even now I hear friends’ parents telling them not to choose Civil or Mechanical Engineering because girls can’t work on the field. Even now, in 2013 I have friends who aren’t allowed to enter the kitchens in their homes because it is their time of the month. Even now, women in the corporate world can never feel secure about their jobs after taking a maternity leave. Even now, hostel timings are set at 6 p.m. for girls while there is no such need for the boys. Even now, at 21 I get asked when I’m going to get married because that is my sole goal in life. Someone needs to tell me how this isn’t a male centric society. In all honesty, I’m not sure if I can even call myself a feminist. I wrote about it in an earlier post, “Where do we go from here?”. Sometimes I wish it was black and white.

Yes, there are cases when men are falsely accused of rape and women get the benefit of the doubt. It does happen, and it is wrong. There are women who use their gender as an excuse to be morally repugnant. It is best to acknowledge that these situations do exist, but at the same time remember that so many crimes against women go unpunished.

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.

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.

By achievements, I don’t mean earning truckloads of money and owning bungalows (although that is never a bad thing). My grandmother on my father’s side was married at the ripe old age of 14. When I think of myself at 14, I can only scoff at the idea of getting married then. There are so many things she could have done, if she had the chance to. She didn’t even get a chance to work on her hopes and dreams. Turning a house into a home is a huge accomplishment, I don’t deny that. Was it their dream? Was it the only thing they wanted to leave behind? Was it a choice or an expectation? We have an entire world full of possibilities now. 

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?). 

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

Yep, we are habituated to pampering women…..

For this I’m going to direct you to this wonderfully acerbic post. She tells it far more eloquently than I will ever be able to.

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.

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.

I’m sorry but no one is putting a gun to your head and asking you to pay. If you choose to go out with women who are that exploitative in the first place, that is entirely your fault. Women aren’t succubi. We’re not out to suck you dry of your money and your soul. If you’ve had multiple such experiences, I’m truly sorry but I think its time for an exorcism.

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.

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 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?

And finally the cusp of this mostly fruitful discussion. I wrote about Gender Bias-ity and I strongly believe that the only thing different between men and women is anatomy. Two different creatures would suggest a different species altogether and that isn’t the case. Gender equality, by strict definition is that men and women should receive equal treatment. Arguably, this is the final destination that we need to reach. I will go on a limb and say maybe this means that as women we need to let go of certain privileges bestowed on us for the sake of equality.

If I have to give up men opening doors for me and paying the check in return for equality in other places, that would be the best trade I’ve ever made. 

The journey that led to this

It’s been a while, and writing is some serious mental exercise. Just like getting rid of that stubborn arm flab gets harder with time, shedding the mental hubris and actually making sense of the word vomit in your head is a major achievement. But I finally had some major inspiration, thanks to a wonderful blast from the past. Friendships formed in elementary school last as long as an ice cream on a hot summer day. I probably had a new best friend everyday and all it took for the catastrophic shift of allegiance was a piece of gum. Score!

It’s a miracle then, that I met someone who touched my life in a myriad of ways that I realize only now, almost 11 years later. (Shoutout to Anisha!) I’ve always loved to travel and I assumed that it was something I was born with, having lived in a foreign country for four years. In retrospect though, I have Anisha to thank for much of it. We were incredibly precocious kids at the tender age of 7 (or was it 8?). If we weren’t busy stuffing our noses into a book or chasing kids around the pool, we would chronicle our mystical journey around the world.

Welcome to Spain. Your next trip is to China.  We were quite knowledgable about clothes. Becoming a fashion designer was the fad of the day. Shudder.

Welcome to Spain. Your next trip is to China.
We were quite knowledgable about clothes. Becoming a fashion designer was the fad of the day. Shudder.

Welcome to China. Your next trip is to Arabia. And a Chinese lady. In a kimono. In the days of no internet! Damn.

Welcome to China. Your next trip is to Arabia.
And a Chinese lady. In a kimono. In the days of no internet! Damn.

And it went on, to over twenty different countries that I still have relics of and probably several more that we dreamed up ourselves. It was always dreams on paper, places too exotic to exist in the realm of reality. But that germ of an idea festered and grew into a full fledged travel bug that caught the both of us. Australia Belgium Canada Czech Republic Denmark England Finland France Germany Hong Kong Italy Indonesia Kenya Malaysia Mauritius Norway Poland Singapore South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vatican City. 26 countries in my 21 years of existence and I feel blessed.

For me travelling isn’t all about the sights and the scenery (although that is a huge part of it). It is the thrill of new discovery, finding those beautiful little nooks that the world has forgotten. Opening yourself up to the new possibilities, of finding yourself by losing yourself completely. It’s the freedom of being the person you always thought you could be, but never got the chance to. It is the joy of meeting new people and the awe that comes with knowing we’re all the same. It’s the smile on your face when you see a gorgeous couple holding their dog on a leash and kissing in the rain by the Seine. The magic in the air as even the most mundane things like taking a bus or ordering food become new experiences to be relished and recollected and recounted over and over again. It is a drug, and the high never ends.

Anisha: I’m so glad we got to experience this together, maybe not in body but in spirit. I’m sure you know what I mean. Some part of our subconscious was plotting away and put us back in touch right where we left off. 

I love how you planned for contigencies. 'If I have also...'

I love how you planned for contigencies. ‘If I have also…’

Going from there to you being on top of the Eiffel Tower is so ridiculously romantic, it should be made into a movie. We wrote such long letters to each other despite living in the same city, on colourful paper with those sparkly pens. I guess I have to thank you for my love for writing too. Ah, the list grows longer. We’ve come full circle with the postcard that took an entire month to reach me, but it was completely worth the wait (Paris to Hyderabad is kinda far). I’m glad you got to do it and I’m glad I could be a small part of it. 

'After all if life isn't something to celebrate, I don't know what is'

‘After all if life isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is’

I also just noticed, you sign Love the same way we used to. I guess some things never change.
Nikhita