By Somali K Chakrabarti
Prejudices, biases and gender inequalities have always existed in our society, and from time to time these come to the fore front. But, when such points are raised by foreigners, there is always a risk that the writer may succumb to temptation of stereotypical or caricaturish portrayal of the characters or the culture of a country.
Making Friends with the Crocodile, written by Mick Canning is a book that highlights gender inequalities prevailing in a North Indian village. Steering clear of stereotypes, the book depicts lives of people in a normal village family, and the conditions that not only dissuade a woman from reporting an assault, but also subjugate her further by holding her responsible for it.
Making friends with Crocodiles is available on Amazon.
Here’s a bit about the author. Mick Canning is an Englishman, who has traveled extensively in North India, Nepal and the Middle East. Mick finely captures the essence of these places in words and in pictures in his blog that goes by his name. I have always enjoyed reading his posts on Bodhgaya, Varanasi, Sarnath, and Punjab. While I had been intending to read his book since quite some time, I managed to do so during this weekend.
In his book, Mick has delved into the mind of a middle- aged woman living in rural Bihar (I have no idea how he managed to analyse and portray the sensitivities) and has beautifully sketched the love – hate relationship she shares with her daughter in law.
By Somali K Chakrabarti
Mard ko dard nahin hota.
Amitabh Bachchan had declared in his characteristic style in ‘Mard’, one of the memorable Bollywood blockbusters from the 1980s. Translated in English it means ‘A real man does not feel pain’.
This stereotypical projection of men in India, has time and again been exemplified by the society, perpetrated through the movies, and reinforced by many parents while raising their children.
In a thought provoking show ‘When Masculinity Harms Men’ in Satyamev Jayate’, Aamir Khan took a step towards busting the myth of manliness that exists in the Indian society.
Here is what Mr Bachchan said on the show.
To forcefully instill values in the male child to constantly act like a man or to behave violently is wrong. ~Amitabh Bachchan
A far cry from his iconic dialogue!
Power, aggression, control are classified as ‘masculine’ traits, while caring, sharing, expressing emotions or crying are the typically seen as ‘feminine’ traits.
These notions are instilled in the mind of male children right from their childhood. Any small boy, who cries, is consoled saying he shouldn’t cry like a girl, since he is physically stronger. Mothers urge their sons to beat up other children rather than get bullied or beaten up. The image of a ‘Macho‘ man endowed with enormous physical strength, gets so imprinted in the mind of male children that it often leads them to believe that “masculinity“ is about demonstration of power rather than about human consideration or sensitivity. As such, they value aggression more than reason, and at times they tend to believe that they will be more admired and can get away with whatever they do if they are more aggressive or violent.