I would begin this article by stating that there is hope yet. It’s not in the spaces and milieu’s that I personally occupy, but it exists. Salman Rushdie the writer makes me hopeful. Reading Shalimar the Clown it struck me how deeply Rushdie understood the psyche of both the men and women of the subcontinent. Two scenes in particular stand out. In one scene the Indian army colonel ends up shouting at a girlin the process of enquiring about her. His real reason for approaching her of course is uncontrolled lust and obsession with her person. The girl sees through his facade; informs him so and tells him to f*** off. Feeling suddenly conscious the Colonel brings forth his hands to hide his crotch. But too late, fully clothed as he is, she has seen him naked. As I see, as we see.
We is? We is “A”, its “N”, its also “P” and how could I forget “D”?
We see YOU, we see through you. I know you don’t care, you don’t agree, you will never agree or acknowledge. The “You” is plural, please note. The “You” here refers to South Asian MEN. I use South Asia because my interaction is limited to people from South Asian nations, I have no particular affection for the subcontinent.
Sequence of events:
*Man sees Woman.
*Woman sees Man
*Man is sexually attracted by Woman
*Woman senses this, feels DISCOMFORT- as reflected on her facial expressions, in her body language.
*Man reads her discomfort as a “blush”, is convinced she too is interested in him
*Man tells the entire universe the girl is interested in him.
*Almost (99%) the entire universe believes him
Every. *******. Time.
Nobody gives two hoots about what women want. Their CHOICE has no value. That’s patriarchy for you- enacted or rather performed in your street, out on the road, in the classroom, in the canteen, in the corporate office.
I was quite amazed initially. So ANYTHING a woman does can be considered as having “showing interest”. This includes:
- Sitting next or close to the person (so what if the place is crowded and no other seat is available or what if you want to sit there in order to hear better, to hide or just get more sun)
- Eating (This is my personal favourite). So eating, or eating too much or eating fast is a DELIBERATE ACT OF SEDUCTION (DAS). No, being a foodie is not an excuse, sex objects cannot feel hungry, not for food anyway.
- Wearing something you look good in, if the thickness of your kohl has increased by 0.000000001 mm. Please understand, a woman’s body exists for a man, so what if that day she just felt like dressing up? Sex objects cannot possess such feelings.
- Oh, DAS also includes petting animals, taking your lunch box from your bag, drinking water- in short existing.
Let me give a real example, veryyyy recent. I’m seated at a table with friends both male and female when a girl hesitatingly enters and sits down. My friend who has been infatuated with her for quite some time makes her uncomfortable, uses a code name for her which I am sure SHE KNOWS. Her expression changes from that of mild discomfort to extreme discomfort and goes and sits at the next table. I feel sorry for her, irritated at myself for allowing it to happen.
My friend however is smiling broadly. “Tumne dekha na? Kaise wo mere waje se conscious hoke baithi thi? Phir uth ke chali gayi? She likes me”
She likes you. Yeah RIGHT.
I then proceed to tell him that she does NOT like him, she was AVOIDING him. Another female friend also informs him of the same, albeit in a more colloquial way I really cannot express here. Not that it has any effect on him whatsoever. He is still smiling and blushing convinced of his own charm.
Uuuughhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bleaarrrghhhhh. Nausea, nausea, nausea!
See the deal is this- if you are staring, rather ogling/leching at a woman with a half dazed expression of lust she is bound to know, okay? She knows, we know. ALWAYS.
We also know it because of how men behave to hide/cover this lust or try and attract our attention. They try to ‘tease’ women, say derogatory and provocative remarks so that we have no choice to respond. Commenting on our voice, our face, even our favoured academicians. It’s quite pathetic actually. Just stand with a neon sign saying “Look at me, look at me” (which is what their facial expression and behaviour is actually screaming). This kind of behaviour is acceptable when you’re twelve not in your twenties (sometimes nearer thirty). It’s not funny. It’s not sad either. It’s just pathetic.
If you have, however, managed to ignore these desperate calls for attention, then the propaganda and consensus building starts- the whispers, the smiles, the ‘looks’. Hinting overtly or covertly about your character. If she doesn’t like me, she’s likes EVERYONE (read- she’s loose). This has a dual advantage. You can ‘play’ with her because you have a ‘chance’ and if she doesn’t reciprocate, well who wants her anyway- she likes everyone! So people I don’t know, have never spoken to have an in depth knowledge of my character, my interactions with men and more importantly the motives behind those interactions. They are romantic and sexual obviously. A sex object’s motives can only be sexual, right? Oh, if they can’t start a rumour about your character, if you are too strong socially and men consider you their own, then you’re lesbian. And the best part is you can’t even take offense at any of this because it was a JOKE. We/They were just joking yar.
Well, then- Hell hath no fury like a man with blue balls. Go ahead. Laugh. This is also a joke.
The name of the Author is being withheld as per the request. The Author is a research scholar at South Asian University.