WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE THE MEN?

photo courtesy: https://twitter.com/EVAWhd/status/313017235314724865

It seems now we all can talk about rape without eliciting incredulous gasps. Apparently, some people are even willing to acknowledge it as a crime. Progress? Yay! Does this mean we can talk about how this affects the men too? Gasp! Oh well, I’m going to try anyway.

 So Assaram Bapu said that the horror that was the Delhi girl’s rape & death in December could have been averted if she had implored them to have mercy on her, to treat her as if she were their sister (and also chanted the Saraswati Mantra – but let’s not go there). Because obviously, Assaram Bapu believes that brothers do not rape their sister. Or fathers their daughter. Because sexual abuse of women & children is only committed by people not related to them, or those not responsible for their safety and their wellbeing. Right.

 But you know what? Apart from the blood pressure spiking, puke inducing statement (and more scarily the belief system), what got my goat was the way men were branded. Not the monsters that walk among us in the guise of humans, but the honest-to-God good men, the ones that actually try to live a decent, dignified life. To me, it felt as if Assaram Bapu’s statement, in one fell swoop, absolved all men everywhere of accountability – if she’s not your sister, she’s fair game – and brushed off – with supreme indifference, if I may say so – the need for decent men in daily life. As if men are not only not expected to be honourable, but woe behold a man that tries to.

 And where does THAT leave the men? The good men. Like the one that fought tooth and nail, endangering his own life, in a futile attempt to save that girl on the bus. Or the thousands of men everywhere in the country that look out for the safety of women in extremely unnoticeable, but significant ways? What of the man that raises his voice against roadside romeos, may be in the hope that someone else somewhere is doing the same to his sister/mother? Even though, yes, men in this country need decades of conditioning before they truly understand the vital importance of the emancipation of women, what of the men who are already on a journey to such a state of mind?

 And really, do we really expect so less from our men? I hope they are offended, even more so than women. Because in my eyes, Assaram Bapu cast a slur on men everywhere. He tells me that the only thing preventing my father & brother from turning on me like animals is not their inherent integrity, but my relation to them by blood. That my husband is not bound by the honour of matrimony, that I cannot expect him to be faithful. He does not believe we should give men a chance at a more honourable life. Worse, he does not even believe them capable of it. Unless they are prevented by blood from maligning a woman – as if that would ever stop a truly heinous mind – they wouldn’t be able to help themselves.

 We do claim that women are our own worst enemies; but truly, here is a man who is intent on besmirching his own gender. One that makes the battle of the decent soul even more difficult. 

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THE VIRTUES OF AMBITION

 

 

“Ambition is all very well, my lad, but you must cloak it.”

 

– Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkhand

 

 A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions – that was Marcus Aurelius’s claim. And yet, every day, people are willing to relegate the significance of ambition in their lives. This is nowhere truer than in the lives of significantly successful people. I’m not saying they lack ambition; I’m saying that they simply refuse to acknowledge its importance to them. Ambition gets cloaked in responsibility, as if that somehow makes it more acceptable.  “I’m only doing this for my family.” “I’m doing this to secure the future of my kids”, is a favourite refrain of people of my acquaintance. That’s the excuse (I refuse to call it reason) people tend to use to explain away their 18-hour working days and interminable trips.

Why? Is it such a crime for people to work because they are ambitious? Because they want to get better, they want to get ahead, and their work is where they would rather spend their time?

It makes me wonder if the shame is brought in by the money factor. After all, beyond a certain level of success, monetary rewards tend to shoot through the roof. Subsequently, workload increases – the more money you make, the more you have to work for it – and consumes you. The question rattling around in my bewildered brain is this: so what is wrong in dedicating more time to that which you are obviously good at? Or at least, what is so wrong that one feels the need to pass it off as responsibility?

 A spouse of my acquaintance once claimed the same, and got shot down by his wife who declared that she never wanted so much money anyway. He carried around the “hurt” like a badge of honour for years. What she wanted was time with him. What he wished to give was money; his time was reserved for more worthy pursuits, like career. My question (which did not go down well, obviously) was this – if it is about the family, why not give them what they want, instead of what he was willing to give? I’ll tell you why. Because time, a person’s most valuable commodity is reserved only for things that light their fire. And for most people – especially true of but not limited to, men – their work is it. They just refuse to declare it in public.

 Ambitious men and women push the limits of possibility further and further; they, in short, change the world. And it feels slightly incredible to believe that every one of them did it in order to secure their family’s future. History has pointed out, time and again, that men (and women) advance because they wish to be ahead, to progress, and because they find their current state unbearable. So they get up and work to change it.

 Where is the shame in acknowledging that a lot of what you do is because you would rather be doing that than something else? And when something is worthy enough of your time, energy and commitment, why would you shame it by giving it another name? Somebody enlighten me.

 

“Ambition is not a dirty word. Piss on compromise. Go for the throat.”

-Steve Erikson, Gardens of the Moon