Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Cupid's Greatest Lie: My Tirade Against Feminism

Intro: There's plenty of subjectivity and male chauvinism here, and more than just a whiff of self-justificatory rationalizing. Make allowances for all that, blogger-buddies, because I'm only human. What's more, I'm only a poor male dick-head.

A Tirade Against Feminism

I'm anti-ism. Isms are forms of evil, no two ways about it. Whether it is capitalism, communism, Islamism, Hinduism, Gandhi-ism or feminism.

I've had particular exposure to the last two isms. But I've been burned and scarred by the acid of feminism. That's my excuse for this rant.

Everybody has issues of injustice -- men, women, children, senior citizens, dogs, chickens, trees... everybody. But the issues relating to women are clubbed together as "Women's Issues", and used to batter our collective conscious into a state of chronic guilt. Among these feminist issues are gender inequality in society, rape, domestic violence ie. wife-beating, female infanticide, foeticide, child abuse, child exploitation, prostitution, "exploitation" and sex-objectification of bar-girls and models, bottom-pinching, wolf-whistling, eve-teasing, glass ceiling, couch-casting...

Individually, each of these issues merit our collective attention and affirmative action. But they should not somehow add up into the subject matter for giving the maa-behen-log the moral high-ground in general, right?

But funnily enough, it does. It all adds up in a sublimal sort of way.

Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me that this isn't so. Tell me that this whole bunch of crimes-against-humanity aren't hung around our masculine necks like a dead albatross to subdue us with guilt.

The Feminists in My Life

In the aftermath of the bomb blasts in Srinagar and Mumbai, it somehow seems trivial to rant about what feminism does to man-woman relations. All right-minded individuals should be expressing grave concern about what a terrible thing terrorism is, right?

But for those of us whose lives have not been blasted apart by the explosions, the quality of our man-woman relationships continues to be prime in our lives. And I submit for your consideration my argument that feminism continually impacts our lives in invisible ways, like a poisonous, pervading gas.

No, not just the lives of men. Because if the men are unhappy and discontented, women must suffer too. They are as much victims as we are of a philosophical slant that is as pervasive today as untouchability and casteism was at one time.

In my 20s and early 30s, I was myself a complete feminist, so much so that I used to tell my women friends, "Tell me all. Consider me an honorary woman." I didn't just sympathize, I empathized.

I understood -- even if I didn't agree with -- many shades of feminism. One of the extreme forms was the man-hating lunatic fringe. One of my first girlfriends -- a khadi-kurta-wearing journo -- felt that her parents had brought her up all wrong, and discriminated between her and her elder brother. "They reserved the best foods for him, which is why he's taller and more well-built", she lamented one day over omlettes and chai. No amount of my gently telling her about innate physical differences between men and women would go past her intellectually overloaded arguments.

Despite my best efforts at harmonious, enjoyable conversations, we argued constantly all the time we were together. Anything that I said could trigger off a one-hour rant about crimes against women.

No, she wasn't stupid! She could talk knowledgeably about Anais Nin, Germaine Greer and Han Suyin before I knew they existed. At least on the face of it, she was enormously well-read.

What I took away from that relationship was that a very fine mind can be skewed by excess baggage from the past.

Over the course of some years, I interacted with a number of feminists who smoked and swore like these were badges of emancipation. And a couple of them who were feminists at heart, but ultra-feminine on the surface... all the better to wind you around my little finger with, my dear! I shall write about them by and by, and pay them my deepest respects.

And then I met my wife...

My Wife

A feminist? No, it didn't seem that way then. At 22, she seemed like a child-woman grasping at straws to keep the conversation afloat. A pink-penned romantic with a penchant for cute girlie stuff. You know what I mean.

Bluntly honest. She told me all about her past when we were just barely buddies, as she fed me home-cooked food out of her tiffinbox. We built our relationship around that unabashed honesty, and a complete lack of game-playing propensities. Truth to tell, that exceptionally fearless honesty is the centre-pinning of our relationship even today.

Back then, she looked to me like a stick of candyfloss -- pink, light, fluffy.  Very inviting because infinitely yielding. Unresisting.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Because I had no idea of what resistance meant until I met her.
I believed then that love -- if it is reciprocal -- conquers all. But that, I found, was Cupid's greatest lie.

I believed that people who loved would bend themselves to each other's will, and gladly so. That illusion was soon to be dispelled.

Within a couple of years, I had modified this belief a bit. Maybe people in love wouldn't GLADLY bend themselves. Forget gladly; maybe they needed some pressure to help them bend... And so I tried that angle.

But no, that didn't happen either.

And then I acted out of the gut feeling that surely a candyfloss girl yields to extremes of behaviour such as rage and violence against self and against her. After all those tears that freely flowed amid protestations of sicerity and love, compliance would follow, I believed. Grudging compliance perhaps, but compliance nonetheless.

I wanted compliance, any old how. By any means, at any cost.

Boy, was I mistaken about human nature!

By the way, what are we talking about here? Compliance on what exactly? Was it firewalking or skydiving that was being demanded here?

Nope, something as trivial as, "Here, read this book, 'Men are from Mars', because darling, there are a lot of things there about US that I want to discuss.' This, to a person who I had found was lapping up huge volumes of romantic novels, with an occasional helping of financial papers, textbooks on nutrition etc.

Things like, "You have a persistent backache? Fine, take your homeopathy pills or whatever, but also just try these two-minute stretching exercises because I know from experience that they really work."

Things like, "Let's go for a walk. Right now, darling, in this beautiful evening light, this cool breeze. Because it means the world to me if you can come with me right now."

Things like, "Let's make love tonight, because I've been terribly horny all day... You've noticed that I've been rubbing up against you all day."

Things like that. Little things that count a lot.

Sounds familiar? Happens to you all the time? Irrespective of whether you're man or woman? You bet. Then why am I blaming it all on feminism? Why not male chauvinism too? 

Be patient, hang on for awhile, and you'll have the answer to that.

Meanwhile, I want to talk about that more little thing that means the world to me: Compliance a.k.a. Responsiveness.

As I was telling a very dear friend the other day, compliance is clearly not the same thing as love. But it's an amazingly good substitute.

It's amazing how compliance and responsiveness can feel like true love.

So it's not surprising that men try to buy compliance and responsiveness, with promises of love and money and earthly comforts. And women try to buy compliance and responsiveness with the promise of good sex.  I think we call this bargain "marriage".

 Conversely, non-compliance is not lack of love. Or is it? Sometimes, one is led to wonder what love is when you combine deep love with a kind of blind, persistent, unthinking non-compliance... an unwillingness to make those little changes that add up to this huge thing that we call marital bliss.

Now why is feminism the culprit?

Today, as a mother, my wife is at the receiving end of the same sort of submissive non-compliance from our children... and it's driving her over the bend. Our son and daughter love her to death; however, they simply don't comply. She has to shout and rant and fly into a temper before she can get the simplest little things accomplished.

And time and again, every other day, I bite down on the impulse to tell her, just when she's cracking up, "You're getting a small sample of what it's like to be in my shoes. Enjoy!"

Of course I would like the children to mend their ways, lest they should ruin their own chances of happiness. But how will children -- boys or girls -- learn compliance, if they don't see mom complying with dad's wishes?

That's why I say feminism is responsible for the corrosion in our lives. Because it is a force, a philosophy that perpetuates non-compliance where compliance would otherwise manifest most naturally -- from a woman to a man! 

Meanwhile, what my children are learning from example is like a martial art: Submissive Non-Compliance. I submit that it is one of the deadliest forms of denial known to mankind: better than extreme feminism, and far superior to Gandhian Non-Cooperation.

How does Submissive Non-Compliance work? It works like this: First say yes. Say it truly, honestly. Say it with tears in your eyes. Say it with sincerity, conviction, what-have-you...

Be seen to be doing it on day one with guilt-inducing deliberateness that says, "See, I'm doing it, although it's killing me. My backache is flaring up, my dust-allergy is coming on, I've got a headache because I haven't had a proper nights sleep and I haven't yet had lunch... but see! I'm doing what you said."

But long-term, non-compliance. It's so easy to slip back into your old ways, right? Today, you have one reason, tomorrow, there's another.

What are you going to do about it , my man? Will you shout? Scream? Hurl abuse? Resort to physical violence?

Oh, you're such a pile of shit, my man. You're such a male chauvinist, such a brute. You're as bad as they come... but I'll forgive you, because you're my man and I'm your woman.

That's the way it works.

And that's the reason I'm beginning to say: Fuck love. Let's make do with plain old compliance, simple human responsiveness.

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