At the offset one should be apprised that this is no feminist outcry but if it need to at all be labelled, this piece is an attempt to sound the gong for our men-folk to wake up and take a good look at their lovely, little daughters who they are raising as Princesses and so as a consequence, would not want them to grow up being wives to men like themselves (elaboration in a bit) or for those, who in the garb of Mr Zen, have with concurrent convenience, mastered the art of maintaining their heads in the sand. To be quite honest, I do not know how this strip will pan out—a cry of indignation, helplessness; a call for gender sensitisation (to use a fashionable phrase). However, before setting sail one matter to set to rest, isms of any kind, not my cup of tea even in takeaway tumblers; feminism making it to the top of isms. Feminists, according to most men, are supposed to be shooed, regarded with suspicion and disdain in equal measure, and are species far separated from the human race. Have these men who are said to hail from Mars, and thus, in actuality, are Martians dressed in the apparel of men, ever knocked their misogynist minds against one another to at long last learn basic 2+2=4 arithmetic and finally stop being paranoid? Why ever for a fractious feud that makes radio waves when a woman minces no words in proclaiming she belongs to the same tribe and should have full access to the human club?! Humanism, not feminism, to use one of those dreaded isms. Is it so hard for men—generally speaking—to treat women as equal, as co-humans? Apparently it is—no need to go over a spreadsheet of statistics.

Some Snapshots: Both husband and wife have jobs, there is a mad rush, come morning. Breakfast to be assembled (would not be an exaggeration to say all members of the nuclear unit have different palates, so it is a fruit platter for one, soft-boiled eggs with the yolk removed and cold coffee for the protein-only other, paranthas with mind you, only home-made curd, the Desi member quick to give one a discourse on the virtues of Indian-ness… In the same breath, varied lunch tiffins are packed to be slid in school-satchels. Little wonder that the Lady of the House is biting into an over-done toast with butter sloppily slapped on while running helter-skelter racing against the clock. This just a foretaste of the day’s long trench of designated tasks which one can only get away through temporary absence, sickness or death. Where is the better-half when this marathon is run? In all likelihood, fine-combing the newspaper or impatiently demanding to know, on the brink of getting into kerfuffle with car keys swirling in the air, why women take so long to get ready ?! The next time one pauses to speculate why the lady in the car is running a comb through her hair or tidying the bag in disarray, the answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. Incidentally, forgot to mention the above scenario can be a scene from any middle class home—upper, lower or in-between the two. And if you’d let the shoe fall on your scepticism, even the champagne and caviar segment. Undoubtedly they have a staff to do the needful but…but do not let garden-parties, finger sandwiches and tea-on-tap mislead one. A woman, therefore, works double-shift, triple-shift and that’s how things have always been, is the incredulous response upon being asked how come? The mother did so, the Dadi/Nani and even the sister, who was in Med-School, would in-reflex cart out a tray carrying water for guests. This snapshot filmed out for longer than intended and thus no option but to get one’s skates on and speed across all reachable landscapes, if only in patches.

Staccato Clippage: the fridge has gender preferences and so the lady of the house is privy to what is lodged in it; in any case, men are fridge-blind. And the microwave was manufactured on the Moon thus the Man of the Manor could quite do with his head in the clouds as far as this gadget goes. This brings to mind a TV commercial: a couple shopping for washing machine; the husband bored-to-the-bones, tootling away on his phone until his wife asks the salesperson to show them a Unisex Machine.

The fridge has gender preferences and so the lady of the house is privy to what is lodged in it; in any case, men are fridge-blind.
Of course, in this advertisement there is a, “they-lived-happily-ever-after ending” where the man once acquainted with the workings of this user-friendly machine, explains the swish of the buttons much to the amusement of his wife. Before making more whistle-stop trips one matter that got lost in the Safari. Homemakers, better known as housewives, despite the politically correct term dished out to us in the ‘80s Yuppie age, perhaps have a harder time than their working brethren. Since the lady is not working what work is she saying has worn her out—making beds, doing a handful of dishes, grocery shopping, cooking some dull dinner?! The answer lost in the heap of the laundry basket. Rewind twenty years ago: Rupert Murdoch’s first wife of 30-something years Anna, had demanded 50 % of his fortune, when he found love elsewhere and filed for divorce. She had, after all, consciously decided to stay at home and raise their children despite having gone to University so that her husband could actualise his dream of building an Empire without a backward glance at wailing babies, wayward teenagers, wishful adolescents.

“Superwoman”,  a brainwashing title “bestowed” on the lady who is heroic enough to multitask 24X7 thinking nothing of her cat cradle of duties, clocking in four hours of “quality sleep’ sprinting out of bed unrumpled, without a hair out of place. On rural India—where a wobbly wooden push-cart is manned by a sun-scorched, barefooted woman towing her sloth-ridden sleeping spouse— for another day.  

Gender sensitisation comes much later. For now, should we not recognise the existence of an elephant in the room?!

Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all


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