The other day I was driving with my friend in his beaten down car. Suddenly a black Ford Fiesta took a wrong turn, ignored the red light, broke about 3 laws in a matter of seconds, and sped past our car, barely missing it. The tinted glasses of the car did not allow us to see its reckless driver. After my friend overcame the 2 seconds of shock, he started a monologue on how our government is overtly charitable in handing out driving licences to novices. He then bet on me that the driver was definitely a woman as, in his words, ‘that’s how most women drive’. That comment greatly irked me, and had it not been his car, he would have found himself stranded on the deserted highway. He went on in great lengths about how most women make bad drivers and are bad in making turns and beep incessantly and talk over the cell phone for hours while driving. I kept my calm and did not retaliate. After 5 minutes of trying to provoke me and not getting a reaction, he soon got bored and changed the topic.
Stereotyping women is a silly thing to do. The way women are stereotyped is baffling, to say the least. All women have to be family driven, coy and have hyper motherly instincts (and be bad drivers) or else your worried aunt might come up to you with a doctor’s reference to ‘treat’ the condition. While most masala daily soaps seem to come from the era of the stone-age, painting pictures of docile, inhibited and son-producing women, the advertisers seem unable to get past a woman’s cleavage and legs. I can’t decide between what’s more sad. Well, I don’t wholly blame the soaps. People watch them, don’t they? I mean, look at the TRPs. And the fact that they don’t throw their television sets out of their windows or else, at the very least, change the channel, proves that they don’t mind what they are watching. What is sadder is that more than half of the viewers of these shows are women. I once had this debate with a friend of mine. While I was warming my heart by cursing these shows, she intervened by informing me that these shows are actually meant for creating awareness. Awareness of how women are treated and humiliated in the lower sectors of the country. While that is a very interesting concept, I just have this one question. If these shows are really meant for creating awareness of the ills against women, shouldn’t they have a strong moral too? Like, shouldn’t these soaps have occasional episodes of the consequences of these ills? And by consequences I don’t mean the woman hanging herself, rather the husband being jailed for the nightly beatings and the in-laws being out casted by the society for demanding a dowry. I never see that happening.
Even the most educated people can turn out to be such chauvinists that it would surprise you. It is impractical and unreasonable, but there is nothing you can do about it. Every time someone says something extremely sexist, you can’t always retaliate and help them see light. At times you have to grin and bear it to avoid an argument. Of course, in my colorful mind, I would have already punched the person three times by the time the talk ended. I must confess, that does give me some peace.
P.S. I forgot to tell you. 10 minutes down the road we caught up with the black Fiesta. It was stuck in a nasty traffic jam near a metro station, about 8 meters away from our car. The glasses were down and the guy was smoking.