Tuesday, June 21, 2005
She was shocked at this question, and clearly mystified that I had the slightest doubt about it. I referred this incident to my friends later, and they said I must be mad if I expected her to even think about something of that kind.
I said I didn’t really expect her to do it – after all, she was going to live with her in-laws now, and she had to think about their reaction – but I resented the fact that she didn’t think it was a legitimate question.
And I still resent it. One of my other questions was if she would wear a mangal-sutra. I expected the answer to be no. It was yes, but at least she thought it qualified as a question. Feminism, it seems, has brought the general public to that stage at least.
Another time, I was talking to my friends. I expressed the thought that if I earned enough money through my writing, and/or my wife had a well-paying job, I’d like to become a house-husband. My friends actually laughed at that. Then, when they saw I was serious, one of them asked me if I could bear the indignity, as he saw it, of ‘washing her panties and stuff’. If my mother could bear that ‘indignity’ for so many years, I don’t see why I shouldn’t. Anyway, right now, in our house, I’m the one who washes the clothes (i.e., puts them in the machine and turns it on), but I realise he was probably speaking metaphorically.
There are many other issues of this kind that I like to discuss, but which seem to mystify many people. I remember one incident – my mother and I were talking about kids in general. I said I’d like to have one daughter, and that’s it. My mother seemed agitated. She said that I should have a son, at the very least. Why, I asked. She said it’s better. Here, I’d like to note that my sister is older than me. Still, I must say I haven’t perceived any other sign of prejudice of this kind from her.
Clearly, we have a long way to go yet.
Till a few months ago, I used to call myself a feminist, but the word ‘feminist’ seems to make people think that you believe women are superior to men. I am a bit ambiguous about that, and therefore, I now call myself an anti-sexist, and I try to express that through my writing as well. This is where political correctness comes in.
I think that the idea behind PC is a good one, but its purpose is to make people tolerant of each other, and yet we see that most of the new concepts of PC are formulated by some of the most intolerant people around. There might not be a very long way to go before we have to start calling dead people ‘electroencephalographically challenged’ and funny people as, perhaps, ‘seriously challenged’ (heh-heh). But still, I approve of most of the PC related to sex and gender.
When you are talking about people, should you write ‘man’ or ‘humans’? When you refer to a person of unspecified sex, should you refer to them as ‘she’ or ‘he’ or ‘he/she’? I like taking the middle route as much as possible, and therefore, I decided I’d write whatever’s easier to write. But then, I thought that there’s still too much male-centricity even today, so to counter that, my writing should tip on the female side.
Therefore, I write ‘s/he’, which is easier to write, and ‘her/him’. And when the ‘/’ feels unseemly, I write ‘she’ or ‘her’.
One of the characters in my first book (still writing) refers to any human of unspecified sex as ‘it’. But that might be due to the fact that he’s a vampire.
I have begun to like using ‘it’. So I will end my post by saying that if you meet a friend who might be interested in discussing this kind of thing, please refer it to this post.