Women, ancient bearers of the torch

 

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Category: Women Date: 03 Jun 01


Ironically, the column on sexy men ran at a time women in our country were being variously shot in the head, raped and shoved into a car; raped, killed and flung down a cliff; being bashed into a concussion and eventual death, while seven months pregnant, having a slit throat, by men.

 

Conversations with several women led me to this conclusion:

Many men (generally speaking) base their entire sense of self as a human being, not on intellect, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, compassion or hard work, but on their masculinity - how many women they can attract, on how many they sleep with, how many they control.

 

I felt as if a light had suddenly been turned on. That’s why they kill when they can no longer control the women in their lives - because they see women leaving them, or horning them as a threat to their very identity which is based solely on their ability to attract and control through their sexuality.

 

Perhaps if men began defining their manhood in a broader way - and if our society lauded men who were faithful, rather than faithless, family men rather than philanderers, intellectual creators, rather than solely sexual beings, humane rather than powerful - then they wouldn’t feel so insecure, so emasculated over a horn.

 

They would be big enough to walk away rather than hit a woman. I felt a little ashamed of one of our criteria for sexy men - power - because it is so often used to control and debase other human beings; its more hateful attributes of guns and violence, control and terror actually serve as a glorified extension of manhood.

 

Over dinner, on the night a self-appointed panel (four women, five men) made the ten sexiest men list, we also made the ten sexiest women. The exercise degenerated into a male thing and it was, as I pointed out to the men, even if done in jest, a broad indication of how men treat women in general.

 

Firstly, they eased the women out of the discussion entirely by saying their choices were, in their words, “determined by an objective and disciplined methodology,” which essentially meant if they had a nice “ass” they were in and if not, they were out. Not only had they systematically deprived the women of a voice, but they also “rationalised” it.

 

Secondly, by reducing women to “asses”, men didn’t have to think of them as human anymore.

 

Even as I joined in the fun, initially, there was unease, discomfort beneath my laughter. I not only felt like a traitor to women, but also I was contributing in some small way to a meat market where girls and women were treated not unlike slaves as if they were, in the chain of life, beneath human beings, sub-human bodies. Mere objects of pleasure - no wonder their lives are not valued.

 

Close your eyes, and if you believe women and men are equal but complementary, then justify child brides, and dowries, and the way women are led like cattle to their husbands’ families, their negative worth a liability so their parents have to bribe men with dowries to take them - they are not even worth selling. You have to pay to give them away.

 

Naturally, under the circumstances, I had no choice but to rip up the male sexiest women list (we are more than that) and do my own.

 

Firstly, I decided to change it to “most admired women” because I have come to understand that when men call a woman sexy they often also rip out her mind and leave her standing limply like some lifeless doll.

 

The women are all uniquely admirable and I left out too many so I did not rate them. This is a random sample of women in this country. Just a tiny, glittering sliver.

 

I name some because they are role models, reasonably well-known and, together with all our women, have collectively and bravely borne the torch (as women have since the beginning of the world) of the very soul and conscience of our country, making up the backbone of our civilisation.

 

They are clever, and curious, natural managers who routinely juggle high-powered jobs with pampers. They are caretakers of the weak: children and the elderly, the poor, the battered, the downtrodden, because they combine compassion with responsibility.

 

They have a passionate sense of justice and empathy but are also formidable achievers because they are fearless and strong.

 

They all have a timeless glamour, a crackling spirit; some are included for simply being beautiful, but by putting them in my most admired list I want to say there are so much more to them than just that.

 

Above all, they have the ability to bounce back from adversity, and even when they hit rock bottom, emerge radiating hope and the immense possibilities in life.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur