My Reactions

You’re the same today as you’ll be in five years except for the people you meet and the books you read.

– Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

I do agree tremendously 😀 I’m what I read and what I think of what I read. Well, what I do want to say is that nothing I say in the post below is my own brainchild. It’s my answer to someone’s brainchild – a reaction to another article/blog I read. I hereby do warn of a bit of angst and of serious disconnect between topics, but do read on:

Summarizing from an Oscar Wilde play, Shreya says “…basically it says that while men love women with all their flaws and sometimes, because of the flaws, women love men because of the good in them. In fact, most of us play up the men in our lives to be better than they actually are, putting them on a pedestal so to speak and then obviously, nobody is that perfect. Hence, women are more liable to feel hurt, when their dream-world comes crashing down. I do agree. I feel we women don’t have too strong a grip on reality. We are floating somewhere in between our fantasy worlds (comprising and because of, all the movies we watch, stories we hear, books we read) and ground zero. Every young girl has a version of her Mr. Right and some fortunately grow up and realize that he does not exist before there is any lasting damage, some don’t. In that way, women seem to be more impressionable than men. Men to me, seem to be ambling through life, letting all its barbs and stabs slide over their rough hide, simplistic and naive whereas women are constantly hyperventilating all those barbs into a conspiracy by the Universe.”

I thought a lot about this, thought about if it’s true for me because that’s how we all think. We like to try the idea on, and see how it looks on us. I almost completely agree with what Shreya said, and this is why I think so: As women, we’re attuned to expect more out of life. Most women I’ve met in my life are people who want more out of every ticking second, every hard-earned penny and every recyclable knick-knack. It’s most natural then that they also expect the most bang for their buck when it comes to relationships. On any given day, something or the other disappoints her. Not just men. Daughter-mother friction, DIL-MIL awkwardness, BFF cold wars –  they all come from a place where women get “wronged”. Before I sound like I’m stereotyping women, I want to clarify that this is an unfounded speculation – I’m just taking the liberty to replace the word “me” by “women”. Feel free to ignore. Men, in my opinion, are only different in the sense that they’re not used to one-upping the order of life, and often beating it. Most of them are here-and-now-ers, accepting it with lesser resistance. So whatever happens is most likely to meet a row-with-the-current attitude than a fight-with-all-my-might one from women. Women then proceed to take a far larger share of the blame – the “guilt” – than men ever do, making them hurt while men simply shrug and carry on.

One of the other things I chanced upon was a tag – a list of ten things Holly and Sally each dislike. I agreed with most of their pet peeves, and was tempted to make my own list. However, at the moment, I can come up with two:

  1. The “I-hate-the-IIT-IIM-types”. (Yeah yeah, I know I’ve said it before!) IIT-IIM types are not put up in display windows for you to like them either. They’re people who are all different, and you club them under one label and generalize – which, by all means, you claim you never do. Stereotyping. They’re similar because they’re in similar kind of jobs. Why is it that the expectation of being different falls on MBAs, and not on say, dentists or journalists? About the “arrogance” and “uninteresting life”, I have met plenty snooty people and ridiculously boring ones who’re not from these institutes too, so what’s your point? If you mean EVERYONE from these institutes is so, I’ll have to go all Maths-y on you, and ask how many such students/ alumni have you met? What makes you so sure?
  2. Baby-talking, when done by adult women. Really, how is it cute to reduce everyone’s name to a nickname by adding an “ooo” or “uuu” or “iiii” to it. Baby-talking is fun to watch when done with a baby, people. The next time someone decides to call me “Nehoooooo….”, do know that I’m all strung up and ready to snap.

Then there was Chetan Bhagat’s article claiming that we all suffer from a case of Ash-envy.

I quote, “Why? Why do we, deep down, harbour resentment of our most successful people? Why do we want them to fail? It’s that ugly word: envy. We know it is rampant in our society. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan isn’t alone. Shashi Tharoor is another example. A fast-rising, first-generation politician, Tharoor was subjected to far greater scrutiny than entrenched politicos, and ultimately made to suffer for it. And, of course, there are several less well-known rising stars pulled down in organizations every day.”

Is it true? Do we “harbor resentment” for successful people? Or is it that Ash/ Abhishek almost take their stardom for granted, and it actually hurt to see Raavan fail on audience’s like-o-meters on *only* that pretext? For one, what does a commoner get from resenting a star? And it would be really imaginative to assume this “envy” being strong enough to cause bonding among a billion or so Indians and get them to hate a movie so much? A simpler alternative to believe in would be that the film really was that bad. And since he mentions Shashi Tharoor, I’d like to say that Tharoor did get more leeway than scrutiny, because he was a writer, a first-generation politician. There were as many criticizing him as trooped after him. The “made to suffer” phase was of his own making – something he could have entirely avoided. So let me say this: I actually tend to believe exactly the opposite. We have a way of taking our stars too seriously and making Gods out of them, such that everything they do becomes a trend. When it comes to stars, our tolerance is unlimited, our memories shorter and our love blinding. Nothing else explains the success of movies like ‘Wanted’. When a Raavan is criticized, it means looking beyond personal stardom. I think of it as a coming of age of sorts for Indian audiences. Something to be welcomed and not rued.

And next I’m just going to jump on the bandwagon and comment on Joel Stein’s article in the Time about Indian immigrants. For all those not wishing to go through the link-and-read ritual, here’s a summary: Joel wonders about how bright Indians – the worshippers of an elephant-nosed God – can be. He challenges the very premise of Gujaratis immigrating to his hometown Edison for the sake of good schools because “In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if “dot heads” was the best racist insult we could come up with”. He abhors the curries we eat, the colognes we wear and the names we have. Said in good humour, apparently. Sadly for him, a large part of his reader base did not find it funny – maybe twisted humour does not work with dot heads, after all. Which part of it is supposed to be funny? Time editors not filtering out something that reads racist from the word go? The very anti-Asian sentiment that the article reeks of? The basic intolerance of a minority for no good reason? If none of these were funny enough, Joel shows up with an apology that reads like this: “I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction, we’d be better equipped to debate people on the other side of the immigration issue.” For someone setting out on a lofty mission like enabling a debate the other side of the immigration issue, the first thing he should have checked for is traces of cockiness and downright ignorance, don’t you think? Do read this and this for more reactions on this article. Oh yea, I do believe that every bit of negative publicity this gets is well-deserved – taking crap in our stride isn’t tolerance or coolness, it’s certainly doormat-ish.

The last thing. There’s a tag doing the rounds about gender stereotyping and how men/women have managed to go beyond typical traits associated with their gender. I think I’ve seen the list of various gender stereotypes broken, and how, on many many blogs this last week. I’ve also been tagged. However, I’ve decided to skip it. For one, I believe in stereotypes – the ones that are harmless (see my response to Shreya’s article above). For example, cooking. It’s good-to-know for both genders. So no matter who says they can’t cook at all, I feel a little sad for them. To me, cooking, swimming, financial planning – these are life skills. Next is the fact that in our bid to check off which “stereotypes” we break, we’re bound to reinforce some. As in, I didn’t even know that monopoly over the remote control was a male trait, so to speak, till I read the tag rules. I know that people fight over the remote, but is it really a male trait to insist on having it all the time? In some way, I feel that knowledge was better not had. Thirdly, some stereotypes that are not stereotypes anymore get a new lease with this list. For example: Accounting or math. With over 60% students in Delhi university opting for Maths and Statistics courses at the grad and post-grad levels being girls, are we really going to hold this as a stereotype? It’s not. So, to mention it as one is not taking fresh information into account. This is just a personal opinion and well, I do love reading these lists, so bring them on. I hope I didn’t offend anyone here and I do think I’m being more than a little nitpicky. My apologies if I did offend anyone.

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29 thoughts on “My Reactions

  1. I quite agree with you and was shaking my head for most of the post ! Yes we women aren’t totally clued into reality and really expect much more from life.Well said !!

  2. Ah! You said it! I wanted to say this about the stereotyping tag. I can’t get myself to do it because I know I would be reinforcing what I am expected to not believe in if I write that post. Did that last sentence make sense? I am sure it won’t, when I read it the next time 😀 I really hope I am not offending people who tagged me etc, but it is just something I don’t believe in.

    Oh and just so you know – I once belonged to the “I hate IIT-IIM types” bandwagon too – I now think it was mainly because both of them rejected me within 4 years of each other. LOL! And then I met people who bored the living daylights out of me/ hurt me/ turned out to be the kind of people I wouldn’t speak to if they were the last people on earth, and I realized that liking or disliking someone has very, very little to do with where they got educated. It has more to do with other very fundamental things about those people or our incapabilities.

    Hmmm. See how grown up and all I sound? 😛

  3. *And then I met people who bored the living daylights out of me/ hurt me/ turned out to be the kind of people I wouldn’t speak to if they were the last people on earth and they were neither from the IITs nor the IIMs

    I left it off incomplete 😛

    • Oho I did get it 🙂 So candid of you to say you were one of the “I hate” types.. and really glad that you see that any one insti doesn’t make you that boring/ smart, nice/ nasty.. there’s simply no correlation!

      About the tag, well, I’m relieved to see someone feels the way I do simply because I’ve been thinking all evening if I’ve really over-reacted. I’d totally get it if someone did think that I am, still.

      And yes, you did sound pretty grown-up there 🙂

    • I loved that post 🙂

      Women may be far less restricted, as it comes across, but I’m trying to see this in the perspective of constructive or non-constructive. Like, for the sake of breaking a stereotype, one can claim not being able to cook or being able to beat someone up or something like that, which I’m not sure helps in any way. Also, some people may have taken a step backwards in terms of reinforcing an old stereotype. Just for example, take this one: “I can drive.” Is driving really a male stereotype anymore? I am not denying it was, but not been so for decades. So, what’s the point? By that definition, we’ve all broken the stereotypes by not keeping a purdah/ghoonghat or going to school or staying out late or some such… which, actually, were never our stereotypes to break in the first place. They were gone.

      Anyway, like I said, I’m reading too much between the lines. Just something that creeped into my head and I couldn’t let go.

  4. First off, let me tell you, I have been on this page since morning, I left home, but the page remained open, because I HAD to comment.

    For one, its great that you have such clear and precise opinions on so many things, I for one, would be lost in my own mind. I loved the way both you and Shreya have analysed the difference between men and women. I think in some ways men are more accepting of the reality, while women kind of always dreaming of perfection. About harbouring envy for the successful, by the common man is crap…..Esp in the case of Ash, it just feels sad seeing such a plasticy woman thrust in our faces, time and again.

    And a very very vehement yes, to finding it really sad, when men or women say they can’t cook. I believe its one of the basic skills too, and not knowing it is nothing to be proud of!

    • Oh Thank you GM, I’m so glad to find that you also understand what I’m trying to say 🙂

      About the Ash-envy thing, I read the article in disbelief because it seemed that CB was really force-fitting an idea in his head to the Indian populace at large. I mean, in this nation, where people wait outside stars’ bungalows for hours to get a glimpse and could kill for autographs, it’s a little far-fetched to say we’re being envious simply because the movie is being disliked!

  5. Enjoyed reading the piece. Maybe after a point some so-called stereotypes will change to become a newer so-called stereotype, like say, now girls outdo boys in maths.

    Every general pattern will exist as a ‘stereotype’, every single general pattern. It is the way a mind will seek to quickly understand a situation or a demographic. An individual will never set a pattern, a group will, especially if certain traits can be identified as being either unique to the group or as being generally prevalent among members of the group.

    • Anil, you said it! What is a stereotype? Just a simpler way for our mind to store and recognize patterns! I do believe that as long as stereotypes are not drawn on negative parameters or unfounded beliefs, we don’t have to try and consciously break the pattern.

      • If a demographic, be it linguistic grouping, be it caste grouping, be it regional grouping, be it gender grouping, if it demonstrates certain traits, negative or positive, it becomes an identifiable and in some cases a relatable identity for that grouping and will get used in certain contexts by other groupings.

        How this identity is used, and in what context is something no grouping will have control over. So ‘stereotypes’ are not necessarily false even when they might be unflattering.

        More each such grouping in turn has the opportunity to change the stereotype, like say how India went from being the land of the snake charmer, and where folks ride elephants to get around, to one of an IT destination.

        Stopping someone from articulating a ‘stereotype’ even if there’s a basis in it as an observed or experienced general pattern will not stop them from believing in it.

        So, instead of us reflexively crying foul it might actually be best if groupings seek to change the ‘stereotypes’ about them that they might find unflattering.

        There’s always scope to improve upon the perceptions another might have of us unless of course it’s based on an irrational hatred.

        • I’ve read your comment several times. I have to say I completely agree.. it’s simple, stop being the stereotype if you find it unflattering. The good thing about stereotypes or labels is they stick as long as you stick with them.

          What I meant in my previous statement is that I’d make a conscious effort to not articulate a stereotype that I think is a negative trait. Like say “Loud Punjabis”.. I may know it and believe it with a good reason/large enough subset to back my thinking, but I don’t necessarily say it. About the ones that become popular without any real reason/ foundation, I’d resist even believing in them till I see something that proves them. If the question is whether there ARE stereotypes that are unfounded, I think there are. Like ‘Geeky Bankers’. Or ‘Racist Brits’. I feel most people meet an equal number of geeky or non-geeky bankers. Or racist and non-racist Brits. Then why generalize either which way?

          I hope I’m making sense.

          I checked out your blog.. love it.. Reader-ed you 🙂

  6. I visit this post of your almost everyday since you wrote it wanting to comment.. but not sure of what I want to write.

    I am really impressed by the clarity of your thoughts and your ability to put it into words.

    Completely agree with you when you say Raavan was a failure of the movie as a whole.. it would be just looking for excuses if someone said it was because of audiences resentment about successful people.

    And I did the gender stereotype tag, mostly because it was fun.. did not think a lot about it.. you POV seems quite interesting!

  7. I was nodding along your entire post. First of all Chetan Bhagat- sub par ‘writer’ needs to be slapped silly! I hate men who think we hate Ash because we are insanely jealous. Really?? There are tons of beautiful women in the world, most prettier than Mrs. Bachchan and not everyone hates them with a vengeance.

    Joel Stien needs to be bitch slapped and hard! That article is hateful, racist and dripping with malice, the gall of him and Time to call it funny is really something!

    Ditto about the cooking thing, really gender is no excuse to not cook. I feel bad everyone man/woman/undecided who can’t cook. Or worse people who say ‘oh you cook well or like cooking because you are a girl’. If I didn’t cook I’d either eat gross take out every day or die hungry! Being a girl has nothing to do with it!!!

    • 🙂 Angry kya? But I was nodding along your entire comment. Oh yes, “you like cooking because you’re a girl” was my pet peeve when I was staying alone.. my standard responses ranged between “no, it’s because I drug myself silly.. and it’s always better done on a fuller tummy.” and “yes, because if I was a guy, why would i stoop down to eating healthy?” You get the drift, i hope

  8. Thank god someone finally wrote something sensible on the gender stereotype thing! I’ve been reading it across many blogs (yes i had too much time on my hands recently and wordpress isnt blocked in office :D)…and the same thing struck me – how can people today think it is “breaking a masculine stereotype” to be driving? or hogging the remote? I’ve even read stuff like “I am more determined than my husband/other women” or “I speak my mind at work” and the killer of them all “I will take care of my parents when old”! Err…arent these like basics? How can an educated (I’m assuming they are since they are literate) person even think of these as stereotypes?
    I was wondering if something is wrong with my way of thinking – was relieved to see your post mirroring a similar sentiment!
    First time on your blog…liking what I read so far 🙂

    • Amrita, hi! you’re quite right.. these are simply basics. This is what I keep trying to say.. if as a deviation from a male stereotype, we have to mention things like speaking your mind at work.. it’s a sad day for womankind. secondly, looking for 10 things to claim this, strangely, makes you lose vision of what’s ULTIMATELY nice or not-nice for ANY gender.. like I can cuss my head off.. excuse me? what’s your point? Tomorrow’s stereotype break: I can rape someone? So yeah, u can say I am quite hormonal 😀 oops, stereotypical, are we?

      do u write? link? 🙂

  9. Pingback: Empathy in Moderation « Another Dark Comedy

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