Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Honorary Guy Syndrome!

I used to identify myself as one of the guys. Or let’s say I suffered from the ‘honorary guy syndrome’. My failure to fit in with the girls around me without makeup and relevant information about latest accessories pushed me to hang out more with the boys around me. Reminds me of an incidence at school when a friend of mine asked how I had no makeup on, and how it made me less feminine. It resulted in a feeling of inadequacy and a brief complex.

Also, I was tired of listening to comments like; you need to stop being so tom-boyish; stop playing cricket on the streets; start taking interest in cooking and baking; what? You fly kites with the guys? So on and so forth. Not to forget the evilness associated with women, especially from the religious point of view.
Hadith 1:28
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet said: "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful." It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, 'I have never received any good from you."
As a teenager, it seemed that being a woman was a curse and everything associated with it meant I would be treated badly. Moreover, the guys I hung out with treated me better when I was not all ‘girly’ as they said. I would be privy to all their indiscretions, dirty street language, newest trends in ‘poondi’, crank calling, and name calling girls. Sigh!

There are things I am ashamed of. Times when the guys talked mean about the ‘girly girls’ and I never stopped them. Or they would indulge in ogling and instead of admonishing them I would be a part of the group, even agreeing that if ‘they’ dressed or acted a certain way, it was to get attention from the guys. It was a perfect case of women being ‘they’ for me.

Statements like, bad driver, duh! Of course, a woman; cranky like a typical woman; my boss is so mean, if only there was a man in her place; or telling some guy who is very emotional, fussy, or loves gossip, stop being a woman all came out without a thought. I’m sure others can add up thousands of such comments we hear in our daily lives. I guess I had a bad case of HGS!

It would probably have continued if I had not met with men who actually did not treat me like one of them, and wanted me to be the woman our patriarchal society dictates. These men wanted me to, be their pet, look pretty, learn to cook, be docile, have less opinions or in some cases no opinions and still understand the male psyche of using women like tissue papers, because hey, this is what women are made for. Remember, women dressed pretty and acted a certain way for the entertainment of the men.

This shift in my circumstances, from considering women as the other, to being a ‘woman’ myself played a huge role in my understanding of how our society literally forces us into a mould. And how great a role men play in maintaining the status quo. Now, when I hear some young women go on and on about how they are not girls because they don’t wear makeup, or don’t wear high heels, or don’t watch dramas or indulge in gossip etc etc, I let them know that they are not alone!

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