On the contrary: Woman on top?

The impression that \'women are weepy and emotional\" is far more widespread than most liberals would like to admit.

Viewed through the prism of Kerala's matrilineally structured society, the idea of feminine superiority isn't such a radical concept. For example, Nair women pass on their family name, inherit and bequeath property, take important decisions and, come bedtime, have no qualms about assuming what gynaecologists genteelly refer to as the 'feminine superior' position. No sweat, man. Er, make that less sweat, given the weather conditions prevailing in Kerala. Social anthropologist and author Amitav Ghosh inform us that although matrilineal societies are not uncommon in South India, the Nairs "have achieved an unparalleled eminence in the anthropological literature on matrilineality although none of the rituals survive in any significant way today."

Despite being brought up in conservative Chennai, my mother worked nine to five, ran the house, looked after the educational, emotional and corporal needs of her husband and three children and never made a big deal about it. It was something we took for granted: as immutable as ice cream on Sundays. It was only when I got to high school that I figured out that my upbringing was by no means conventional. Ranga, a pimply, bespectacled classmate with the soul of a chartered accountant firmly embedded at the age of eleven, solemnly informed me of his disapproval of working women. 'My fother told that woman should be in house doing cooking, performing puja and such things only. This whurking (working) woman is rotten Western culture influence'.

Fortunately, Ranga and his Taliban parent only borrowed books from the British Library where my mother worked. Had they been present at the staff Christmas party with chaste bussing under the mistletoe they would probably have had them flogged in Moore Market. Several factors have empowered women today: better education, employment opportunities and the broadening of work bastions, especially in IT. Plus, of course, the Jerry Maguire Factor: show me the money. The days when men got home and peeled off a few bills for household expenses while giving the little woman a little extra to 'buy something pretty' are history. Today's women are well paid, hardheaded, commercially astute money managers; not the wussy creatures of yesteryear who would dissolve into tears at the sight of an unbalanced chequebook.

Do red-blooded Indian men feel threatened by women on top or by stridently- aggressive women who call the shots, bring home the bacon and fry it? My friend Bala said he'd rather hop on a time machine and proposition Kaikeyi; "Dude, she makes Akshay Khanna look like a wuss." Speaking of bacon, dare I say the world's best cooks are men?

In Ben Elton's play, 'Popcorn', Wayne, the redneck mass murderer is discussing the infamous Bobbitt case with Scout, his partner in crime. Scout says, 'That bastard done beat her up and he raped her too. I hope she used a rusty knife.' To which he replies, 'Personally, baby doll, I don't see as how any woman can get raped by her husband on account of he's only taking what's his anyway'. 'Wayne, you are such a dinosaur,' is her last word on the subject, with her gun drawn.

The impression that 'women are weepy and emotional" is far more widespread than most liberals would like to admit. Back in the 90's Urban Edge held weekly events exclusively designed for women. Pracharaks would have got their khaki knickers in a serious twist over the ads: 'DJ Ivan spinning only for women, fashion extravaganza by XYZ, gorgeous male models waiting on you hand and foot, 4 U'r eyes only'. Eat your heart out, Mr. Bond. My source informs me that scantily clad male models danced on table-tops while the women wolf-whistled lustily followed by an auction of the hottest bods.

One doesn't know whether successful bidders took their trophies home, but evidently all the women present had a blast. In a scene eerily reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 an intruder may have felt he was at a bachelor's party with one critical difference. The women were likkered up, some dressed in outfits made from handkerchiefs, the noise was deafening and the handful of men around were treated as commodities. The dividing lines had blurred and, for that evening at least, the women were on top.

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