Disclaimer: This is not directed to anybody. It’s just a general post.
It’s common knowledge that Indian men, some of them, thrive on having Indian women under their thumb. They can’t stand a lady boss and neither handle an attractive lady in charge especially if they are Indian women. Perhaps the only woman Indian guys abide to without questioning is their mother but that too is subjective.
How Tamil cinema further ingrains that assertive women are bad for Indian culture
In Tamil movies, bold ladies who dominate men and don’t vacillate to express their sexuality and desire are portrayed as must be ‘controlled’, ‘not wife/love material’, ‘should be put in her place’.
The below is the infamous advice dialogue delivered by Rajini to Ramya Krishnan from the movie Padayappa.
Although I agree that one needs to control anger irrespective of gender, I cannot concur to the saying “Pombele na, adakkam udakkama irukanum.” There is something called edam, porul, yeval. I can’t maintain adakkam udakkam when a guy rubs himself on me. I should kick him in his groin, shouldn’t I? Overall, what Rajini recited is that women should have forebearance and don’t display authority. We all clapped and cheered at this scene which practically communicates that women should always be patient, not hasty, should be submissive, not assertive, should be tolerant, not outraged, should be taciturn, not scream bloody murder, shouldn’t pin authority, should have self control, not be a loose cannon. Above all, a woman should behave like a woman. There is a classification on how a woman should behave and should not behave. Of course the classification is made by males. If females classify how a man should behave, some males and even females would say that males can do whatever he wants just because of the genetic accident at conception, the chromosome Y, testosterone and the male brain. That regard is denied for females.
Notice that when an Indian woman proposes to a man forthright and speak her mind, her appeal as the ideal female, mitigates drastically and the male humiliates her as if it’s his birthright. Indian women are conditioned from young that they should not have sexual urges and even if they do, they should suppress them some, even being in the mind frame that if Indian females entertain sexual thoughts, they are sinning. Boys, particularly Indian boys are not subjected to such conditioning. Of course males are more sexually assertive than females but in Indian society, females are literally prohibited from admiring other men especially if they are married in the case of sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka. In the movie Moondram Pirai, Silk Smitha will be married to an old, impotent man and she desires the young Kamal Hassan and tries to entice him. This cinematic role of hers was detested by most Indian women thanks to the conditioning that women should not be sexually assertive. This scenario might vary but I’m talking about Tamil movies’ influence on the Indian mindset, not every other, individual, ground realistic story.
Both women have a love interest towards the hero but the hero is captivated by the woman who’s coy and rejects the assertive one who openly told him that she would like to marry him because he is the best man she laid eyes upon. It is an underplayed rule that Indian guys have the right to classify Indian girls but girls are not granted that prerogative because that’s a semblance of a powerful and assertive women which god forbid should Indian women cultivate.
There is such a scene like above in Padayappa too, where Rajini would classify women in Sanskrit – saathvigam, prachothayam and bayanagom. Just in case you readers and especially Malaysian Rajini fans think that I am a Rajini detractor, hence me targeting him, I gave an example from a different movie. Kuchi karuvadu maari irunthukittu, Vadivelu is classifying Indian girls based on their looks. Nowadays, it’s ‘super figure’ ‘saavadi sarakku’ ‘semma figure’ ‘semma katte’ for what Indian males consider as girls worth ogling at, ‘sumar figure’ ‘sappe figure’ for ordinary looking girls and ‘mokkai figure’ and ‘attu figure’ for girls they perceive unsightly. These are terminologies used liberally in Tamil movies and they are slowly imbibing the minds of Indian males here – especially youngsters. If Indian women start classifying Indian males based on their looks, will Indian males take it easy? I’m afraid not.
Assertive women seen as a threat to Indian masculinity
Even in this age, many Indian men can’t take orders from a lady boss especially if she is of the same race. The, ‘nee enna soldrethu, naa enna kekrethu’ attitude stops them from doing an assigned task wholeheartedly.
Also, if the wife of an Indian man earns or is more educated than him, inflated ego gets the better of him. One of my female relative who’s doing PhD was forced into marriage to a guy who is a SPM dropout. He is now so absorbed in inferiority complex, he’s torturing his wife, not letting her study, accusing her of being a vamp so much so, she’s mooting divorce.
If a woman is smart and overshadows her husband in any respect then the husband is deemed henpecked or queen controlled and that woman is called adanga pidari or bajari.
If an Indian man gets his wife sanitary napkins, lets his wife drive while he sits beside her or hold her handbag, he is deemed emasculated , a faggot or a sissy rather than a loving, understanding, supportive better half.
Indian men who live with their wife’s family is called, ‘veetode maapilai’ and are generally considered as a man who has lost his dignity because he is kinda dependent on his wife. Ironically, it’s not shameful to be dependent on wife to clean up the mess he makes, to wash his clothes, to clean his house, to make his food and drinks, to single handedly manage the children which are also his, etc.
Assertive women or not, being a woman is not easy
When some married Indian males does household chores, they expect praise and the women of the house do grant them praise. Why is a married man lauded for looking after himself and his family at household level? Household chores are deemed as lesser tasks that should not be done by a man but isn’t the man part of the household too? Things are changing but not fast and prevalent enough.
It is not easy being a woman. She has to constantly live under a plethora of stereotype threats. At every stage of her life she is expected to behave like a certain peer of her own age. She has to be dignified, talk softly, behave like a lady (whatever that means and entails) and also bear all the pains of growing up without complaining. She has to be almost perfect for everything she wants to do and still face twice the competition compared to her male counterparts. She is the one who makes adjustments and sacrifices. She is the one who has to endure and still be strong. She is the one who has to hide her tears behind a smile. And then after all this we have a WOMAN who stands tall and takes a stand for her loved ones. The woman of the house is the first to rise in the morning and last to go to bed at night and she though she might not be assertive, she’s certainly in charge. For one moment just imagine if your wife or mother quits her role as a wife or mother. Entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. One’s value would only be felt when the one is no more.
Assertive women and women of authority are not something to be condemned, avoided, ridiculed and be bridled because it is a threat to manhood. Recognize that women, assertive women or women in charge have a mind of their own, capabilities and capacity to excel in male dominated fields and that they have desires that are their own, not meant to be hijacked by patriarchal establishments. Give them the space and opportunity to prove themselves rather than maligning their existence by toeing obsolete Manu laws for women or after watching some dumb Tamil movies.