Google fb32x32 twitter linkedin feed-icon-32x32

It's A Man's World

It's A Man's World

December 22, 2011

Being born as a male child into an Indian family is in itself a qualification.

We all know that the male child is a prized possession in India. Only the child in question does not know that, at birth. But this state of innocence is very short-lived. Soon he discovers that he has achieved no mean feat just by being born male in India. This awareness is tantamount to a mental block, a learning disability except in rare discerning households.

For starters, one of the earliest assurances that he receives is that as a male child he is eventually heir to the position of the head of the family if not also to most of the family property. In rural India, where there is not much inheritance to pass from one generation to the next, this assurance is still there, that he still gets to be the unquestioned “head” of the family, with a docile (read, servile) wife and a bunch of kids that are there to serve him and for him to bully.

This mindset is still with the Indian male as a full grown adult and he carries it with him to the workplace. More often than I care to mention, I have found male co-workers who find it difficult to acknowledge that at the workplace the household equation of unquestioned male supremacy is not there. Out of the comfort zone, many such men are unpleasantly surprised to find that they have to prove their mettle by demonstrating technical, managerial and other skills. There are of course exceptions, but the vast majority of men who start their careers with the assumption that the red carpet is there waiting for them at the workplace, or that there are women waiting to follow his orders, are in for a rude shock when they don’t find these things. The shock turns to depression and subsequently to aggression when they are saddled with a female boss from whom they have to take instructions. If the lady in question is sensitive to the psychology of such a team-member, she might sometimes take the help of a male co-worker to ease the new entrant into the work situation. If not, then a tussle of power can become quite a futile loss of both time and energy which, needless to say, benefits no one.

The term ‘male ego’ is widely recognized, why has no one heard of ‘female ego’? Probably because socio-culturally there is no sanction in Indian society for a ‘female ego’ even though we are a nation that worships various forms of ‘Shakti’. Tradition and convention taught us to put the woman either on a pedestal and worship or, to look upon her as an object of use, at best a piece of furniture, meant to look beautiful and add value in terms of a possession for her owner, the man.

In the West ever so often, the Indian male is perceived to be a guy who has fun the way he wants to while studying there, or learning the ropes at a new job, but dutifully goes back to India in search of a wife because apart from the fact that he is secretly hoping to marry an innocent virgin, he calculates that she would be easier to control, that he could expect her to perform household duties like a slave and appear like an epitome all virtues.

The fact is that like India, the Indian male is also typecast. India is all about cows, snake charmers, dirty streets. That description of India makes us all cringe. Yet, we all know it’s partly true. Bashing the Indian male smacks of a similar Western mindset. We all want India to break out of the image mould, so also for the Indian male. The Indian female, I must admit, gets the better part of the bargain. She is typecast as the beautiful, submissive, clever, deft woman who is forever under the jackboot of the Indian male.  Casting the Indian male as a mother obsessing, woman beating, lazy and helpless lout pining for a lost feudal world is fashionable. But is it true? Well in my experience, more than partly true at least. Every day I witness the male swagger and the male bragging - both pathetic attempts at denying a new world order where worth is directly proportional to the skill-set and experience being put on the table.  What is more infuriating yet is to also observe how the same clever and deft woman so often plays the “damsel in distress” card, thereby artificially inflating the “male ego” and eventually manipulating it to suit her own purpose. But I guess this is how the game of survival is played. As they say, all’s fair in love and war, and what better virtual war-ground than life itself.

Photo credit: Nathan Put-Fernandez 


  • Kirklops
    30.12.11 11:35 AM
    "For starters, one of the earliest assurances that he receives is that as a male child he is eventually heir to the position of the head of the family if not also to most of the family property."
    There are certain families in Kerala that follow 'marumakkathaayam', a matrilineal system of inheritance. Using wiki's words, "unlike in many other Indian traditions, they were not considered unwanted births, to be married away and never to return. They were conferred a higher social status, they inherited family property and the family home. They did not live in the otherwise common fear of the mother-in-law."

    But, this did not mean that the women were completely independent. Their happiness was determined by the men folk and families without an elder male member felt a certain sense of insecurity. So it indeed was a man's world not so long ago.
  • vaibhavGhevde
    29.12.11 10:46 AM
    Nice write up. I agree with it. But the cause of it being a man's world, I believe lies in the upbringing of Indians. Both the male and the female child are brought up to believe "It’s A Man’s World". Ok, but that woman beating stuff is a really bad thing to do.
  • roopz
    26.12.11 02:11 PM
    Well said :)
  • Rajpriya
    24.12.11 06:54 PM
    @Harry, Hi,

    Thanks for wishes. I will. In fact I bought all the presents in London at the end Nov. Had a great problem hiding them in the cellar. At last they will see them at midnight today if they are awake.
    24.12.11 06:24 PM

    Very true in what you said Rajpriya. MY best wishes to you and your family as well. Give love to your grand kids and plenty of presents and have a best new year. HARRY
  • Rajpriya
    24.12.11 05:40 AM
    @Harry, Hi .

    I totally agree with you. She does deserve an award for putting with up my badass attitude. For years she has put up with it and it may be, a way too late to think “My life could have been a lot better if I had married Harry instead .

    Attitude is a bargain that comes with arranged marriages.

    One is born an Indian and grows up outside. His are parents are little above middle class. They are owners of reasonable amount of land, are financially well off, have a good reputation well known to the wider society and a class above among relations back in India, what more they belong to the same caste and the best quality he won't take a Dowry.

    They send their son for education to two different western countries. He is in good employment in another with a good salary. Lives in a comfortable house and owns a car and he has seen half the world. He has more than reasonably good features and has a lighter brown complexion, reasonably tall- The dream Prince of every Indian parent who has a daughter.

    Don’t you think I had all the necessary qualifications for some one in India to think of giving their daughter in marriage? Yes! They did and never worried about his shit attitude. That’s a criterion that goes unquestioned with everything else so fine and think he is our Harry .

    Compliments of the season to you and your lovely wife and children. God bless you all.
    23.12.11 05:03 PM
    @ Rajpriya :) :)

    I was thinking about nominating your wife for a award, for putting up with your badass attitude. Copping with Indian is bad, but copping with Indian with German attitude and sense, it's even worst. What can I say? :) :)

    Have a good christmas and a happy new year, and don't eat too many mince pies, it makes Indian guys fat in the middle.

    :) :) HARRY
  • Rajpriya
    23.12.11 08:17 AM
    It’s a Man’s world? I would say, yes you are right in everything you have said if I myself was a woman. But what I am going say is neither to defend the man nor to blame the woman but it is the way the Indian society needed the Indian male to be.

    There is no secret that any society around the earth always wanted the man to be strong, muscular be able take jobs that need physical strength and to fight evil. A woman herself looked forward to have a gladiator by her side one day and would not approve to be in any kind of relationship with a weak man. So the man was brought up to be the stronger to meet the expectations of women, parents and the society at large.

    She dreamt of the stronger man to go through difficulties in life with ease, one that was wealthy if not educated, had a good job if not wealth, and worked hard to give her a good living and a comfortable life. It was her responsibility to manage everything about the house while the man was out toiling to keep the home fires burning.

    She was educated by her parents and being a woman she was closely watched by the society that was ready to look down up on her if she was anything other than that of a sound character while they paid little attention to the behavior of the Indian male. Until the strong man came along she placed a huge responsibility on the parents to keep her aloof of the many taboos of the society.

    The woman was the more protected one by parents who kept in mind, one day she would be married and they were ready to give all their savings as dowry so that their daughter would be better looked after for the rest of her life even if the male was not so wealthy.

    A family owning a large property in rural India needed a man to continue to cultivate land that gave good returns for the well being of the family. If there was no male member with only a girl in a family, the parents sought for their daughter a good husband who could take on the role of managing their wealth and give their daughter a life she was accustomed to.

    I have not known of many women in middle class families in rural India who would go out to the paddy fields to manage cultivation. It was a man’s job to stay out under the sun all day and one day reap what he had sown.

    A woman was the one who was by entrusted by nature the role to bear a child and she needed to stay at home for the upbringing of the child. It is normal at least in Germany to allow a working woman three years paid leave to stay at home to bring up the child.

    The Indian society needs to change to recognize the Indian woman’s role as one that involves keeping the house as full time employment that needs to be compensated adequately rather than be seen as that one of a domestic aid.

    Then came a time women started assuming active roles in getting employed some as breadwinners for a poor family. They took on jobs more suited for women and those that did not demand physical strength. If she drove a car she needed a man to change her flat tire.

    The mindsets of men anywhere in the world is the same except for the fact that women of India were a bit too late in catching up with the man’s dominance at the workplace. In the western world it was not uncommon for men to stay at home while his wife went out to earn the bucks.

    I would agree there may be men who are unpleasantly surprised by a few women who had better technical and managerial skills but the women still have a long way to go to replace the man altogether and make him dispensable in India.

    A man’s expectations of a red carpet works with a woman boss too, who looks down upon men because of her qualifications and wants to impress the world that she has the skill to manage a man more than the job she needs manage at her work place.

    I have not ever worked for a female boss but I have had men lamenting of bossy women whose bosses were their pawns. Isn’t that enough for a man to be depressed?

    A job is not about taking instructions; it is more about any one having necessary qualifications and the skills to understand how to get the job done. A boss’s job is not about ordering people around but more on how to motivate people to do their jobs and make work environment more pleasant for any one.

    I would take my hats off to a female boss if she had the skill of making me love my job and motivate my dedication to it. It is a skill that is essential for both a male and a female boss.

    The world as a whole uses the women as a commodity from time immemorial. Anything that was to be sold carried a woman’s picture if any attention was sought to attract the buyer. Women never protested them being commoditized and were willing to get bolder and bolder how they would allow them be exposed as an object that seeks attention particularly the male.

    The Indian male was deprived of the much needed comfort of being close to a woman in public in his own country and found that the west exercised no taboo of such forms of socializing. It is something that the Indian male found an unaffordable luxury back home.

    But the Indian male had a choice: go for the glitter that may not last or for one without a glitter that would last. This is the truth about the Indian male who did know the difference. Whether the virgin he married was innocent is not a thing that was easy to discuss at least he believed it be so because of constraints the Indian society imposed on her.

    The poor Indian male was pushed into being what he is because the Indian society has made the Indian female to play the role of a moral goddess and she readily agreed unlike her western counterparts: the care less attitude.

    The Indian female nevertheless makes herself attractive to the eyes of the Innocent Indian male and as usual he is blamed for his basic instinct that could turn out to be a fatal attraction.
    22.12.11 09:25 PM
    Very true in most things, what you said SUSMITA, regarding male ego, but I don't think this is exclusive to India. This also applies to foreign males as well, where they all have problem with lady boss. I think this is more to do with psychology, then culture or being Indian.

    One thing that I can say is, I have worked under a lady boss, in all honesty, I perfered her more, then some of the men. If you are there to work, then it realy doesn't matter who runs the office.

    The other thing that you said, was that Indian male will go back to India to find wife, so he can control her better, is totaly false statement. I will tell you why?

    Have you ever lived abroad Susmita? if your answer is no, then you will not understand this why? I will give my take on, why people take this steps in their life, and it's not that so they can bully their wife and kids as you think they do.

    If you go out on friday night / weekend in the city centre abroad, then after 3/4 am you will see most of the girls pouring out of clubs, covered in drinks and vomit, hardly wearing anything, and you will see them urinating openly in the street without a care in the world. You will also see some of them past out due to boozing.

    Before any body says anything, I have seen this happened, and I still see it happen today in UK. I am not pointing any finger but I am saying as it is.

    If you have to select a wife from this, then my question would be, would you? I DON'T THINK SO. This is not to bust your bubble, but to tell you why. If you fish in dirty river you get dirty fish. I think I have said enough.

    The other example I will give you is this, would you give a thief, keys to your life's fortune ? you know the answer to this as well. If you want the best Mangoes then you need to go to the trees.

    The part I totaly agree with is, when a woman who plays damsel in disterss card, thereby artificially inflating the male ego. I think women as spicies are more clever then men. If you take a man as a truk, then the only way to control it, is to get inside in the driving seat, because you can't do it from outside. Thereby this is true.

  • Shalini
    22.12.11 07:37 PM
    Liked the coinage "female ego". :) And it is good that you have touched upon the fact of women also playing typecast roles to their own ends. Both are guilty of being trapped in their own stereotypes.

Leave a comment