My friend the misogynist
Holds meetings in his head
Bashing the women in red
For being feminists
Heeee should go soak up the sun
Stop telling everyone to be
I wrote these lines following a chaotic meeting inside my own head. The words are passive aggressive and offensive, I admit. I am no better than ‘my friend the misogynist’ who is probably just as confused as I am about the gender roles we all grew up with.
I’ve seen many instances of unconscious misogyny from both men and women and it always riles me up but I keep quite because these are otherwise excellent people and I’d rather not hurt their feelings (or I am coward). We all stumble into misogyny mechanically because it seems to be the status quo.
Misogyny rambles about disguised as a popular movie, a much-loved song, a custom we must adhere to, a friendly warning to women, a compliment, an internet meme and as a simple way of being. It is a shape-shifting monster. And I’ve met it many times in its various forms.
Monster movie magic
A beautiful girl with a moon like face and long tresses captures the fancy of a young man. Perhaps he spots her graceful neck in chemistry class or she pours water on him from her parents’ balcony (her hair flies up in the air, sleek and shinning and at the sight of it his annoyance turns into mushy love). Suddenly she is the love of his life, his obsession and his reason for living. The young woman rejects his adorable but slightly creepy advances. The young man is heartbroken but his love grows to engulf him. He must have this damsel for himself of sink into nothingness. A bout of serious wooing/harassing begin. He stalks her, sings to her from tops of mountains, he carves her name and his own (two hearts pierced with an arrow) in public spaces, he stalks her friends, and he is present everywhere she goes. But he is a HERO and the moon faced damsel falls for his devotion/harassment. According to some tales, the damsel runs into his arms sobbing (her hair still flying) while he is in his deathbed still groaning his unquenchable love for her.
After a few nauseating song and dance acts the romantic hero saves the helpless damsel from evil men and influences. She, the frail and pretty excuse for a woman looks on adoringly as the poor hero battles on his own to save her. They live happily ever after in la la land.
Monster in the shape of a first crush and thwarted love (Sigh)
A scrawny girl with a short mop of untidy hair is sitting comfortably in her jambu tree, munching a juicy red jambu, lost in her dream world. She had just celebrated her 14th birthday and a throng of handsome knights have begun to invade her innocent dream world. Suddenly, she spots her neighbour and former playmate on his bicycle passing her house on an errand for his mother. He had done this many times before but this time she feels an unfamiliar stirring in her heart. He resembles the knights of her dreams and he did read a book she liked. Unaware of her change of heart the former playmate whistles his way home. The girl can’t keep a secret. She blabs to her cousin who blabs to a friend who blabs to the former playmate.
Former playmate’s response: Revulsion and confusion. He refuses to come to her house when his mother asks him to borrow some lemongrass.
His older brother’s response: “Girls are not supposed to show interest in boys first. They have to be modest. Stupid girl.”
Her cousin’s response: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
The girl retreats into her shell shamefaced.
The former playmate apparently has a change of heart a few weeks later. He and a few friends walk behind her as she hurries home. Her shoulders slouch from shame and she is guilt ridden and confused. The playmate and his friends discuss girls amongst themselves but loud enough for her to hear.
“Girls shouldn’t wear shorts. (The girl’s usual choice of attire)
“Girls should grow their hair. No one would ask out a girl with short hair.”
“Girls shouldn’t climb trees.”
“When girls act like proper girls are supposed to boys will start getting interested in them.”
She pretends to be lost in her own dream world and continues to walk away feeling miserable.
Monster in the office projector
A girl runs down the stairs in panic mode. “M M the projector is not working. I have an urgent presentation. You have to come fix it!
M, a decent guy buried deep in his own work looks up at her bewildered. “But I don’t know how to fix it. I am not a technician”
The girl: “But you must know! You are a guy! You are the only guy in this area. The rest of us are women! You must help.
The aftermath Monster in the Wariyapola incident
A group of young executives discuss the incident.
Young man: “He shouldn’t have harassed her. I can understand why she was so angry. But violence is not the answer.
A young woman: “True, she shouldn’t have slapped him so hard for so long.
Another young woman: “You know what. A man should know how to control women. He should have taken charge and hit her silly. Then she would have learnt her lesson.”