A few weeks before my wedding, my mother decided to give me “the talk.” Now I know what you’re thinking but my mother is an Indian woman with her Indian sensibilities. Her opening line was, “If you dry roast all the masalas for a few minutes until the raw smell goes, the dish will taste better.”
Believe me, that’s no euphemism.
After her instructions on spicing up my (ahem) curries, she told me the following words to live by that I never lived by, “A man’s ego needs to be constantly stroked. Keep flattering him every now and then.” She further went on to add that there is no harm in apologizing at times even if he was at fault, because “men are like stubborn children” (well, I agree to some extent to that bit in quotes).
Luckily for me, the Mr. had by then seen me at my nicest, and also during my absolute vampiric worst, when he knew the safest way to approach me was to hand me hot beverages held on one end of a stick, while standing preferably two rooms away. His sans-moustache-Rhett-Butler attitude preferred someone who spoke her mind over someone who mindlessly flattered him, and thus was qualified to handle me at my best.
What about all the other girls whose mothers have told them the same thing? How are they happy with the “Oh, Johnny Bravo, you da best!” line even at times when he is being only ok? The sad bit is how they do it in hopes of something in return – often a little material something. When I tell my husband he makes the best prawn curry in the world, it is simply because he does. Not because I expect shoes in return.
Women are conditioned – by the world, by their mothers – to keep buttering men up. They are encouraged to bow their head, not make noise, handle the household, quit their jobs. If your husbands are kind enough to let you retain your jobs, then by no means earn more than him, or even equal to him – you are threatening him and his fragile ego. So used are women to being treated as second class human beings that they have led themselves to believe a man who walks all over them is what they want and need. Such is the extent of this belief that they shy away from wanting equality and become eternal male pleasers. Such is their need to be approved by the Alpha Male, that they would rather join a fight for male superiority than demand equal rights. This okayness to be trampled upon is something I’ll never get. What they require is not a companion to share dreams, make plans with and enjoy a lifetime with, but a protector whose classless jokes about nagging wives they can demurely smile at. There are women who have gone so far to believe that by keeping their husbands chests pumped, essentially they are the ones benefitting. Right, what benefits are we referring to here? Again, the little treats?
And the mothers of these great men in our lives – they probably contribute more to male chauvinism than any testosterone fueled mainstream feature film. All a boy has heard growing up is how privileged he is simply because he is a boy and how he will always have more and better opportunities than his sister. At social gatherings, the proud mommies will show off their sons’ successes, much to the envy of everyone within earshot. The same mommies measure their daughters’ successes differently – how much the sons in law earn, or where they work – USA or UAE or Uranus – the fancier the better. And the poor misguided daughters believe that what they want is not success of their own, but a successful man, who can – and we’re back to this statement – buy trinkets! The only other measure they have for their daughters’ successes is how much dowry they gave the groom (dowry-abolishment-laws-are-for-losers, hashtag YOLO). The same daughters teach the same to their “privileged sons” and “substandard daughters.” And so the cycle continues.
Once the Mr. told me that a colleague advised him about “keeping women under control.” Then I told him about the general belief around a man’s constant need for validation and flattery. Then we shook our heads and had a good laugh. Because when you marry someone, you’re looking at a friend and an equal partner. You laugh your heart out at ironies. You are not marrying the Colossus of Rhodes and you do not smile abashedly at his embarrassing spanks on your shoulder in the presence of his drinking buddies. Have some pride!
We all have a very small space in eternity, if you ask me. Instead of fighting for dominion, we should be treating ourselves equal, laughing more often, hugging tightly, and kissing sweetly. Instead we have turned our pathetic lives into a battleground. Funny, only by the time we die in this battleground, we’ll realize there are no winners.