Monday, September 28, 2009

That huge sense of entitlement

Guest post by Apu of Apu's World.

Excuse me for being a little angry here but what is it with (some/many?) Indian men and their huge sense of entitlement? Perhaps I should add a caveat here. You may (if you are a man) jump in and say, but, not all of us are like that. True, true. But, here’s the thing - there are enough such scum around that incidents like this one are only too common - a 25 year old woman in Mumbai, a mother of two, was gang raped and then burnt, it appears, simply because one of the assailants had been rejected by her a few years ago. Acid attacks on women who have turned down a man or broken off a relationship are only too well known.

It is a normal human tendency to feel sad when rejected by anybody. But, where is this sense of entitlement and anger coming from? Why this feeling that she must like me, I am too good to be rejected, I cannot possibly be turned down?

In my opinion, this starts out with the preferential treatment that many boys receive at home. Let’s start with simple things like the traditional Indian style of eating where the mother cooks and keeps serving while others eat, and then has her meal once everyone is done. The girls in the family too are roped in to help mother in the kitchen, as soon as they are old enough. The boys? The boys sit and eat their hearts’ fill. Perhaps this is why I’ve often seen men help themselves and even empty the vessel without any thought of whether the women who will eat later will have enough. When the message is that everything revolves around you, why bother to contradict that?

Food is just one of the many ways in which boys are subtly and un-subtly told that they are better, that they deserve the best, that in fact, whoever denies them what they want is simply wrong. In case you think it is only a few backward people who behave like this - unfortunately not. The scale of discrimination may be smaller in urban families but it is still there. Boys may be allowed to set the table, for instance, but in South Indian households, they will still rarely be allowed to clean up after meals the traditional way, where you sprinkle water and use your hand to clean. This is demeaning to them you see, although its perfectly ok for girls. Ecchal Idardu is what we call it in Tamizh, a concept difficult to translate into any non-Indian language, but would roughly correspond to jhoota saaf karna (झूठा साफ़ करना) in Hindi. I remember once going to a relative’s house, where after lunch, their two boys were excused while I, the guest was asked to clean up, because, that’s what girls are supposed to do!

It goes on in many other ways, including the amount of freedom girls and boys are allowed. (Girls are told that this is for their own safety, while the truth is that many crimes against women occur at home and are perpetrated by relatives and so-called friends). Of course, while every other Indian household is this way, not every boy raised this way is going to become a killer or acid-thrower. We can’t deny though that such conditioning is a great way to make boys (and the men they become) think that the world owes them everything. It develops a false sense of manliness based on others kow-towing to you rather than on reciprocal, affectionate relationships.

Movies too have a role in promoting this ideal of manliness. Mainstream South Indian movies have taken this to an extreme with the Cult of the Eve-Teasing Hero, who mysteriously, gets (often, more affluent and educated) beautiful women to fall for him because of or inspite of the tactics he uses, which the more sane among us would only call sexual harassment. Great role models for boys in this country! Should we wonder that some among this lot aspire to darker versions of what their heroes practise on screen?

12 comments:

Mr Chamko said...

so any solutions to this?

besides south indians seem a lil more orthodox as compared to the rest of indians. such things will hopefully not pass on to the next generation when the girl is equally educated and earns pretty much the same. but then dont girls want to marry a guy who earns considerably more than them? why this confusion?

N said...

nice post IHM...
All these little things reveal so much and leave such a lasting impression on young minds...
there are many families that give preference to a boys education to a girls.. esp. in the north...
And down south a guy is literally forced to do engineering so that he can get better dowry.. Its a Pity.

indianhomemaker said...

N this is a guest post by Apu. I agree all these little things reveal so much and make permanent impressions on the mind...

And if one is treated as equals at home, one will be neither too timid nor arrogant outside...

indianhomemaker said...

Mr Chamko, girls are raised by the same society that raises boys as god's gifts to humankind...

They are taught about the fragile male ego, which must be treated with care, girls are told not to show a man he knows less - even if he does... I am sure you have seen this. Men are raised to think of their income as their report cards.

But this is changing I know of girls who are happily married to men who earn less and have no hassles either.

Solilo said...

“Movies too have a role in promoting this ideal of manliness. Mainstream South Indian movies have taken this to an extreme with the Cult of the Eve-Teasing Hero, who mysteriously, gets (often, more affluent and educated) beautiful women to fall for him because of or inspite of the tactics he uses, which the more sane among us would only call sexual harassment.”

Just the other day a friend and I were discussing the same. It is not just Tamil movies but entire Indian cinema where you get super hits like Kambakht Ishq which just promotes male chauvinism. When a woman slaps a man in a Tamil movie for eve teasing then she is this rich spoilt girl who must be a taught a lesson by poor hero guy.

Even in NCERT Hindi books at one time, there were sentences like Ram khaana khaane aao, Kamala khaana paroso. We have advertisements where women are shown making hot puris in a new Oil while their husband and kids sit at dining table gorging on it without offering any help.

worldthrumyeyes said...

Lovely post Apu.

My 2 cents:

Such insane idiots who throw acids on girls so that if they refuse them, they will not be worthy of anyone else as well. That, I guess, is a case of neurotic disease.

However there is another side to this. I once met a guy (A Telugu guy to be precise) who is anything but the conventional good looking types - he is short and fat... definitely not the type who should "Demand" a fairy-like girl.. But they do! This particular guy rejected a girl because she had pimples!! I was aghast!! Unfortunately, we women turn down guys all our lives... this is the one chance that guys get and do not want to let go of it!!

Sucky Sucky Sucky system!!!

apu said...

Thanks all for your comments.

Mr. Chamko, as IHM says, this is the other side of the coin. Boys are brought up to think of themselves as 'mighty providers' and girls to think of themselves as 'helpless dependants'. Btw, I don't know about South Indians being 'more orthodox' - I know plenty of North Indian families where the girls' parents never stay at her marital home or have food there.

Worldthrumyeyes - yes, these guys are not worthy of anyone else, but chances are, our system will still deliver some poor girl to them, prolly one who doesn't know much about the background.

shail said...

In fact most all Indian movies glorify the eve-teaser hero and his wooing style which is nothing but sexual harassment. Then there are movies where the hero slaps the supposedly errant wife and she smiles and everything is alright. So does the wife slap the drunken homebreaker of an abusive husband to set him right?? Oh no siree, she waits patiently for him to see the light. Ugh! I would love to see a movie where a errant lover/husband is kicked where it hurts and he smiles and everything ends on a happy note.

I know of a case where a guy who was rejected by a girl (Isn't it her right to accept or reject??) committed suicide and the student politicians of the college called a protest in front of the girl's house. I mean what the heck!!! If a boy says he loves a girl she has to be grateful and accept him??!! I cannot fathom the logic of college students protesting against the girl. Weird!
The oil ads and plenty of other ones follow the same pattern and plenty of households run on these lines too. But it is heartening to note that there ARE households where the husbands help out. But the sons?? Hmmm... that is still not common and in fact the mothers, who might accept the husband's help, themselves become queasy about doing asking sosn to help, especially when there is a daughter around!! Now THAT has to change, hasn't it??!!
Loved your post.

Anrosh said...

"but then don't girls want to marry a guy who earns considerably more than them "

and when a girl earns a promotion and makes more than him later on, so what would you do -

Mr. chamko: A secure man judges his worth by how he treats his fellow human beings, not by how much he earns.

Meethi Imli said...

Really i love i agree.. India is still a male dominating one and girls are meant to be treated as their maids... very sad....

Nida said...

Very well written! I think you make a really, really valid point when you say that this inequality starts very early on with the way the boys are treated at home, and leads them to feel a certain sense of entitlement as they become men. This is a fantastic post! I loved it!

Aakashi Kapoor said...

I completely agree with what you wrote in your blog. But chunk of blame also lies on those servile woman who think its their honor to serve men and agree with whatever they say. And that's not only rural women but a lot of educated woman do that too. Until you stand for yourself no one can fight for you. Women are taught to accept whatever is thrown at them and so we need to first change women in our society. Men are irrelevant. No one can suppress you without your consent.