In a post dated October 2005 and titled, “Dark thoughts of a closet MCP”, I had imagined the mind of a chauvinistic male. The post began this way:
You should have seen the fuss that my wife made and the tantrums that she threw up when I woke her from an afternoon siesta yesterday and asked for a cup of coffee!
Why she should go ballistic over such a simple request, I could never fathom. It would have taken her hardly a couple of minutes to warm the milk in the gas stove, mix the instant coffee and sugar and serve it to me, along with some chocolate biscuits, as I was on my recliner chair reading a book. Nothing complicated about it. Minimum physical labour involved.
It is not as if she had to slog it out like my multi-tasking grandmother who had to wake up at 3 am everyday, have a cold dip in the Cauvery (cleverly dodging the lurking crocodiles), finish her pooja, run after the cows, pin them down, milk them herself, then grind the coffee seeds, roast them, prepare the decoction, and get the steaming coffee ready for my grandfather at 5 am sharp, before he commenced his morning ablutions. All this, while she continued to prolifically deliver several babies a year.
I thought I was using my humourist’s licence to freely exaggerate and to sound funny in the process.
Last night, while watching a debate on a Tamil channel, I realized how wrong I had been. I had not only ‘not exaggerated’ (pardon the double negative) but had not known that many women actually liked their male partners to be completely domineering and demanding. This was a complete revelation to me.
This debate was between two groups of women, with one group arguing that husbands were ‘visible Gods” who needed to be served and obeyed unquestioningly and the other group defending the view that the husband was a friend in an equal partnership.
That such debates should happen at all in this age is a reflection of our society. The participants were well-educated (in the conventional sense of the word) and I heard one of them – belonging to the group that venerated husbands- say that she held an MBA diploma and that it did not make any difference to her convictions. She revealed that as soon as her husband came home from work, she insisted on removing his shoes and socks not just because she felt she ought to, but she enjoyed doing it. None of the women in the ‘husband is God” group attributed the behaviour to ‘traditional values”. All of them said they actually liked placing their husbands on a pedestal and being as obsequious as they could.
The thought did cross my mind that perhaps this was a stage-managed debate. If so, the women were exceptionally good actors.
Maybe this was a freakish group rounded up by the TV studio to make the show livelier? No, I don’t think so. I suspect that this was a good sampling size, one that is representative of a pan-Indian society,
It is pointless to talk about ‘subjugation of women’ when there are educated women still around, who volunteer to be slaves and derive masochistic enjoyment while being treated thus.