Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The things we think and do not say

Consider this:
Man hits on woman. Man scores. Man is a player.
Man hits on woman. Man doesn’t score. Man is a loser.
Man hits on woman. Man doesn’t know if he scored. Woman is a bitch.
Woman hits on man. Woman scores. Woman is a man-eater.
Woman hits on man. Woman doesn’t score. Woman is desperate.
Woman hits on man. Woman doesn’t know if she scored. Man is a player.
Man gets wasted at a party. Man is wasted.
Woman gets wasted at a party. Woman is embarrassing.

I didn’t make these rules. Neither have I heard anyone articulate it. But it’s all out there, under the thin veil of sexual politics, where nothing is said and everything is understood.

I find it amusing that most of these rules are made by women, but the men aren’t complaining. May be, because as a race, they are more forgiving, have lower benchmarks for behaviour, and will largely give the benefit of doubt to the woman (whether or not they are interested in her). Because, in a man’s mind, a woman can do no wrong. So there are no rules for them. With their own kind, there are plenty. “Don’t get in my space. Don’t make eye contact more than necessary. Don’t interrupt me when I am talking to my woman. Don’t tell me what to do unless I ask you. And don’t deprive me of a good fight.”

Women on the other hand are governed by rules — whether it is for our own sex or the opposite. We are also constantly asking for rules to be defined whenever we are in a situation we haven’t been in before. And are forever articulating and modifying them depending on our state of mind and the company we keep. For men, it’s all very simple. “Mess with me and I’ll mess with you. Mess with my woman (wife, girlfriend, sister, friend) and I’ll mess with you. Apart from that, I don’t really care if you are a serial killer or a nudist.”

Which is why men let women get away with a lot more, while they are not forgiving of their own race. At a recent party, a woman mixed a drink too many and spent the rest of the evening pole dancing and lap dancing. Except that the poles and laps were real people. The men wanted to help her, but didn’t know how. The women, for the most part were embarrassed and stayed away.

Had it been a man, the menfolk would have discreetly huddled, bundled him into a cab, and disposed off his remains for the day. To them, a man is a collective. He stands for them. So any man who behaves badly is a collective responsibility, something that they will all get together to set right. And I love men for this.

Women on the other hand are ruthless. They believe that pretending it didn’t happen is the best punishment. I am sad to report that yours truly is sometimes guilty of the aforementioned.

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