Aug 13, 2008

When will pigs fly?

I realize I don't get chauvinists.

I don't get them just like I don't get a zit on my nose on the day I want to look remotely presentable. Like I don't get hysteria and like I don't get cheating.

Interviewing candidates for admissions in the fall semester gave me a sound opportunity to see how much I don't get them however. They're like a freak of nature. Sometimes they're so unbelievably stupid, it gets you thinking if human beings are really all that cracked up to be.

I asked a young man what his opinion was on women. He said he respected them. Then I asked him if he would be willing to be a stay-at-home dad if his wife wanted to travel the world for her job. He said, "No."

When I asked him why, he replied, "Because she is my wife."

Me: "So?"

Chauvinist number 1: "So I will not let her. I will not allow her."

Me: "Being your wife makes her your slave?"

My eyebrows were raised. If he passed this question, he'd get recommended.


Bad answer. Jerk.

The next guy gets it right between the eyes.

"So tell me," I ask, "would you marry a rape victim?"

"Yeah I would."

I brighten.

"If I'm already married, then yeah, I'd marry her."

The one guy who said he'd be willing to be a stay-at-home dad was the guy who said he was smart enough to know what people wanted to hear him say.

I recommended him for his sheer smart-aleckness. He'd get to be in places in the next ten years.

A fellow colleague on the panel was having the time of his life enjoying the conversations. After each candidate left almost puking with nerves, he would turn to me and say,

"You're really enjoying this aren't you?"

"Only so much. When they say they own their wives, it just makes me want to hammer their puny brains into mush."

"You can't blame 'em, you know."

"And why not?"

"It's what our culture and society has taught them since they were little kids. At 18 or 19 they won't have enough sense to come out of the rain let alone fight stereotypical thinking. You are being too optimistic to expect a rational 18-year-old."

"I was rational when I was 18."

"You can't expect everyone to be the way you are. The normal population thinks women should stay at home and be owned by the men while the man earns."

"I think they are better care-takers too. I'd probably want myself to stay at home to take care of my kids rather than go flying about neglecting my own home. Women are mothers for a reason. But that certainly doesn't mean they don't have the freedom of choice and that definitely doesn't mean men own them like chattle."

The day ended with our last interviewee being a frightened young woman smiling sheepishly and blushing uncontrollably.

"So," my colleague asked, "if your husband forbids you to work after you complete your BBA and your MBA, what are you going to do?"

"I'll quit."

After she left, Mr. D turned to me and began laughing, "I told you, beta. I was hoping a girl would come and prove my point. It's not just men. We're all sexists."

Are we all sexists?


Chauvinism is a strange concept to me because I don't call myself a feminist, a radical feminist or even any kind of -ist. I just feel equality is something that shouldn't be as awesome as a flight to the moon for the species who are growing to live out of caves into feats of architecture that can boggle the mind. When I see educated, intelligent, capable young men and women, seasoned, experienced old uncles and aunties and likeable, loveable people acting as primitive chauvinists I wonder if it's really that far along that we've come.

Sometimes I feel society breeds these vamps we hear stories of. Vamps who destroy houses and eat their young.

Religion plays a strong role in shaping our stereotypical behaviors and so does the heritage a land bears. Pakistanis have a strong reason to believe that their religion has taught them to be sexist and patriarchal. It is convenient enough to forget that Islam actually gave rights to women when it came instead of stripping them from them. Today feminists like to talk about a woman's signature as a witness and her dress code as a barbaric exploitation of women's rights in Islam. I ask them if they'd ever heard of the Prophet SAW's treatment towards Hazrat Ayesha RA when he would ask her if she needed her for anything before he would offer his midnightly prayers. How he handled his wife's anger. Today if a Muslim wants to show just how Muslim and a follower of Islam he is, he does it by proving what a strict check he keeps on his wife, how he doesn't allow her to say a single word in his presence, how he may even slap her soundly if she dares argue and recently got to hear this from someone I wasn't expecting it at all.. "It's really the best if women don't get educated."

I mean, please don't blame me for wanting to hate everything around me right now because people close to me who are capable, intelligent, sensible and usually logical have started to believe that women are the scum of the universe.

A woman should be seen and not heard. A woman must not say or do anything to offend her male counterpart. A woman must take in the butt of all the anger, the flawed logic and a man has the power and the capability to rip her heart out and feed it to the wolves to teach her a lesson. A woman bears lesser intelligence than the man because she is too emotional (if anyone quotes Islam here, I'll be the first to count the number of ahadeeth which have been proven authentic just because a woman .. and a young one at that ... has narrated them, viz, Hazrat Ayesha). A woman is a lesser mortal, a weaker mortal (try waxing your neck and push a kid out of yourself). She must take in all the unfairness with a smile. She must not speak of how life affects her and how must she bear what she does. She must not complain. Because if she does, she is irritating. If she doesn't do what she is supposed to do her grading goes one step down the phylogenetic scale of intelligence. A woman must never think of herself as a more capable person, no. She must control her outbursts, keep her emotions in check, and stop speaking when her anger gets the better of her.

So I'll shut up. Before I really piss people off.


Mampi said...

Should you really bother about how many you piss off? Given the type of questions you have been asking people, you are the type of person who should actually let them piss themselves off. Am I glad that you did it. It would, if nothing else, let them have an opportunity to introspect. Hopefully, it will contribute to bring up a better sensitized generation of men. The change will be gradual, but it will be there, inshallah.

Majaz said...

I hope I piss em off. I hope I piss em off into being more sensible.

Sad part is, they don't introspect either, once they're pissed off.

It just gives them a better opportunity to be more sexist than before.

Ruddy idiots.

Anonymous said...

I dont see why it came as a surprise considering what our society is like. Yes I feel as strongly about it as you do, more but its definitely not surprising. For me the heart rending thing isnt how men behave its how women who are in a position to help other women go out of their way to subjugate,humiliate and overall derogate them into fitting the mould society has fitted for them and that is something which sucks.

your question will bring about a change.... maybe a long time from now (humans evolved mullishness if nothing else!) but I guess one must do what one can in their individual capacity if there is ever to be a change.

Btw nowhere do you see this crap with such force as in government service, one of the reasons which makes me a firm advocate of the belief that its people who have nothing to recommend them who need to put down others (including women) to bolster their own shaky egoes. it was definitely not very pleasant realising that when I went to office the 1st day I had to work to prove myself to the CLERK and the PEON among others while a guy was a "sahab" by virtue of his gender from day 1. there is not much if anything I appreciate in those around me nowadays, this post is just a long run of stuff where I yearn to be convinced vain :)

Majaz said...

What struck me as a surprise, Cynicalutopian, was that even nice loving, caring people can be chauvinists. As my friend says, it's more like a school of thought nowadays.

And like I said.. it's surprising that you don't always see them dressed as the Grim Reaper. But rather as the Little Red Riding Hood or Cinderella, sweet and caring.

I feel for your days in the government where you'd have to prove your worth every day just because you're Mem Sab and that other ridiculously pig-headed guy is Saab Jee.

God be with you. Chauvinists won't change. All we can do is yelp and stomp and bardashtofy the stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

I wrote a long comment and then IESCO made the power go poof. :/

Anyway, your questions were scary. And I agree with Mr. D, you can't expect an 18-year-old to be that rational. Most of them are very everything-is-either-black-or-white beings, and some of them are smart alecks like the one you recommended.

But yes, the adjectives and stereotypes associated with "aurat zaat" are quite crude. Again, the black-or-white thing. We Pakistanis are wired in that way -- it's either this side of the spectrum or that one. Who cares about a balanced middle?

And I might be going off-topic here, so I guess I'll stop.

Majaz said...

A balanced middle is deeply craved when it comes to our nation. It's either a corrupt dictator or a corrupt democrat, it's either mobs on streets for a dead politician (whom they didn't care about in the beginning in the first place) or a total apathy.

A balanced middle is deeply, deeply, deeply craved.

Which questions scared you the most, I'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

The very first question that you mentioned: opinion on women. It's such an open-ended query.

Majaz said...


*self-satisfied grin*

Unknown said...

The thing is the more you consider different people as 'them' and not as people at all, you're bound to become chauvinists, or racists, or homophobic or xenophobic whatever. Our society suffers from way too much sectarianism. We've divided people into so many phylums, sub phylums, sub-sub phylums etc... women are just one category to be reviled and subjugated.
Aga Khanis, Homosexuals, non muslims face the same level of prejudice. The difference is that they don't make up 50% of the population. A chauvinistic society is a paralysed economy.

Anonymous said...

"... A woman must never think of herself as a more capable person, no. She must control her outbursts, keep her emotions in check, and stop speaking when her anger gets the better of her."

no no no no. we control our outbursts, keep our emotions in check, and stop speaking when too angry...because men cant. and often don't. it is when we solemnly regard, perched on the family couch, our better half fly in a rage, ranting and raving over the inconsequential (not to him though!) misfortunes of life that have unjustly attached themselves to his indignant soul do we come upon the reality that we.must.remain.calm.
not in fear of that rage being directed at us (though sadly for some women it has happened) but because we know *sigh* hell someone has to.

impassioned emotions, uncontrolled anger, sharp frustrated outbursts... are never dignified, belittle a lady's decorum and make you look very silly in the end. look at Lady Caroline.

Majaz said...

Pearls of wisdom, Hira and Reja. Kudos.

Hufsa said...

*stands up*
*claps loudly*
Alhumdulillah, written so perfectly and also with such great arguments! You have expressed how essential equality is in such a clear way! Hopefully the people who read this and get pissed off will think again and actually realize that you're right! And you know, nothing will change unless the women themselves start to let themselves get their rights..if they're not even going to bother trying..then well, it's totally futile.
Props to you :) Greatly Written.

Majaz said...

Thank you, Hufsa.

You've got to keep trying though.

Unknown said...

every single minute of today, fate has been trying to prove that men ARE jackasses. All of em.

you started the fire, baby!

Majaz said...

That's the idea, babe!