Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Talk like a man

You don’t really have to be male to talk like one, you see (to state the bleeding obvious). One, erm… lives and learns.

“It’s her duty as a wife to live with him and look after him in his old age. What do you mean he was emotionally dismissive?”

Gender of speaker: Male in this case, and family; Context: Very Indian middle class;

Translation: After a lifetime of being treated like an emotional and intellectual doormat i.e. her primary function being to cook, clean, look pretty and nod assent when everybody gushed over her surgeon husband who had actually played cricket for the country (lucky woman!), she decided enough was enough. At the ripe retirement age of 60. And chose to go live with her daughter in the U.S, start a business, make friends of her own and get a life. But this is unacceptable, of course. Ungrateful little shit. What about the poor man? He just can’t cope with the weather in New England. And he just hates the food. He can’t possibly go live with her.

“Her son’s a weakling, he’s never going to do well. She should support him in every way. It’s her duty as a mother. Why does she want to buy jewellery at this age? She’s 70, for God’s sake! It’s not as if anyone’s going to look at her. He needs her help, she's his mother!”

Gender of speakers: Male and female, in this case;

Context: Hamara Bharat mahaan (‘India is great’, for those of you deprived of the joys of Hindi)

Translation: One of her sons is a loser. This suits his very successful siblings and extended family since it provides them with a ready made travel agent, chauffeur, concierge, payer of bills etc. They pay his (and his unfortunate wife’s) rent, in return. Except for one small problem. He now wants to procreate. And wants Mama to help with extra money, and childcare and and and. Mama, widowed young and without supports, has worked very hard for her money, until she retired 5 yrs ago. She’s never bought jewellery for herself. Until she came by an inheritance. Recently. Which she should donate to the loser-procreator-turned-mard (more Hindi). Naturally.

“She’s sexless”

Gender of speaker: Male > female. Context: Cross-cultural

Translation: She’s focused on her work and has no time for gendered office games viz. popping cleavage, flirting, playing the sex card, living up to the 'feminine' stereotype etc. However, if she was a man, acceptable descriptors would include, ‘incredibly focused and determined’, ‘dresses like a typical intellectual’, 'he's so focused he's not bothered about what he wears', 'typical absent-minded Professor-in-the making' etc.

“She’s a frigid cunt”

Gender of speaker: Male

Translation: However much I try, she won’t sleep with me. Because she has

1) Better taste; and/or

2) Other priorities.

“She’s a fuckin’ nympho”

Translation: She’s almost as interested in sex as the average man. Almost. And interested. Not constantly subconsciously preoccupied.

“She’s really vicious/ a ballbreaker/ jor

Gender of speaker: Male or female, take your pick; Context: Cross-cultural, but Indian in this particular anecdote. Hence the jor;

Translation: She thinks for herself, is candid about what she thinks, and is unafraid to argue her viewpoint. However, though most admirable in a man, I feel extremely uncomfortable when this happens with a woman; it just doesn’t feel right. When I am a man, it makes me feel like my penis is actually shrinking, then…..well (horrible). When I am a woman, it questions the validity of the status quo I’ve accepted unquestioningly all my life. And what does that make me, huh?

Never mind the validity of her perspective. Okay? Now shut up, please.

“He’s looks like a tough bastard, all right, but he’s a useless henpecked git around that wife of his” “He’s completely under that babe’s thumb, mate, effin’ idiot”

Gender of speaker: Male

Context: Universal. Boys being boys, doing Man stuff viz. getting drunk, watching football/cricket, working on that cute beer belly etc.

Translation: He seems to have fun hanging out with his partner/girlfriend. He even gets wasted with her, for Chrissakes! The idiot goes to frickin’ art galleries! He even cooks for her. Stays at home on Fridays, watching effin’ DVDs. Hilarious. And he doesn’t talk about birds. Forget fit birds. But can’t tell him this, because he can be a bit of a bastard, that one. What a loser. Fuck ‘im, mate. C’mon, let’s have another drink. Pass the fries, will ya?

And finally, my favourite, from a ‘liberated’ Indian man who married for ‘love’.

“Change into Indian clothes when we stopover in Dubai and don’t argue. I don’t usually ask you to do stuff, right?”

Translation: Now that I have satisfied my intellectual need to feel ‘liberal’ by dating, living in with and then marrying a woman ‘not suitable for my parents’ (no, they aren’t the ones marrying her jointly, in case you wondered), I need to maintain a charade of ‘respecting tradition’, ‘keeping them happy’, ‘showing that she will adjust’ by making sure she switches her jeans for a salwar in a toilet in Dubai airport. Just so that she is not improperly clad when we arrive in Bombay.

Change in London? What d'you mean? What if someone saw her? These things count at work, y'know.

Note: This post has been anonymized. Googling the surgeon who played cricket for India will lead nowhere.


Blogger Sreekumar said...

An interesting spectrum of attitudes and mindsets...but I hate to be judgemental on some of them atleast without knowing the persons concerned further. Even if they are totally fictional.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007  
Blogger bendinggender said...

i LOVED this post:) thanks nevermind.

to add to the stuff one hears around all the time- marriage is about compromise. someone needs to stay at home, look after the kids, move cities or countries if the partners job so demands.
subtext- women are better at adjusting and caring. it might as well be them.

gender of speaker- female often. the men are too busy working. they can leave such domestic bickering to their womenfolk after all.

Saturday, December 08, 2007  
Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said...

Glorious post. The second conversation especially is scary, because it mirrors the situation of a family I know (family friends), where the mum has two adult children, a daughter and a son. Her daughter takes care of her and basically does everything for her.

But of course, if you're Indian, sons are the shimmering beacons at the end of a dark tunnel (eyeroll), and even though her son was out-of-work, lazy and an overall good for nothing fart, she poured all her resources into supporting him, basically sidelining her daughter/thankless beast of burden in the process.

It sickens me to this day, it really really does.

Sunday, December 09, 2007  
Blogger That Armchair Philosopher said...

haha, excellent post. loved the bits about the nympho, and the jeans-into-salwar frieze at the airport. Jeez. The last quote - I actually know people who I'm *sure* would think that way.

Tis a pity, but the truth.

and hello! :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007  
Blogger nevermind said...

sreekumar, hi, good to see you're around. none of it's fictional. i am a relativist, and a pragmatic believer in context and subjectivity myself, but i believe with cold clarity that most of this goes beyond relativistic understanding, let alone justification (sorry for sounding like a paper from a journal; try v. hard not to do that). in short, primitive, unintelligent attitudes are just that.

nikita, now, why aren't i surprised:)? the next time you have, erm, certain guests, maybe the lady and i could trot along and do the dirty. you do the wine and view, we'll do the rest. should be fun, no?

Monday, December 10, 2007  
Blogger nevermind said...

punkster, thanks. the lady in question, she did exactly what she wanted, eventually. and has reached a sublime state of don't give a shit anymoreness. so good for her.

TAP, hi, long time. re: the last bit, boggles the mind, no? i mean, un-fuckin-believable. Jeez.

Monday, December 10, 2007  
Blogger That Armchair Philosopher said...

long time indeed :)

@punkster -

"sons are the shimmering beacons at the end of a dark tunnel"

-- warms the cockles of my heart, i tell you..

Wednesday, December 12, 2007  
Blogger Unmana said...

Lovely and extremely funny post. In a sad kind of way.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008  
Blogger nevermind said...

hi unmana, thanks. hadn't thought of the sad angle before, but it is, isn't it?

Thursday, February 21, 2008  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.