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You can live with them, you can’t live without them

Indrajit Hazra thinks the best way to deal with women is to see them as objects. The trick is to not let them know.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2009 01:08 IST
Hindustan Times

On a day meant to commemorate the fact that women hold up half the sky — that no one bothers to hold up the other half may explain why there is no unlimited sunshine in our lives — my confusion regarding women reigns supreme.

Having had the anthropologist’s advantage of watching the tribe from close quarters, I know that they kick up the hugest of fusses if they are seen as ‘objects’. But let’s be germaine to this gear. How subjective can one be when women themselves are vying for such ‘object-ivity’?

It’s not men alone who gawk at the stories and lick-turn the pages of the subtly named genre of publications, ‘Women’s Magazines’. Women are the chief subscribers to such self-idolatry. Nothing wrong with that, gentlewomen. It’s just that men, being humans too, are curious creatures and wonder what women – whether in between tae kwon do classes or under the hands of a Swedish Massage masseuse – are busy reading up and looking at. Most women I know certainly understand this. But there might be some Lata Mangeshkar-ish helium-laced scream from the other end of the room pointing out that the problem is with seeing women only as SEX objects, as if by using the word SEX in capital letters, the men shrugging their shoulders and looking at the protesting lady (as an object, of course) will be forced to burn their Y-fronts and declare something drastic.

So does the woman want to be an object or not? I guess the ladies who don’t like being objectified don’t like to be objectified in a certain way. If, for instance, they were objectified by men the way men objectify other men — whatever that means this side of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code — would they mind?

Even though I hear that not all of them mind, I’ve never taken my chances. Frankly, it’s been my unshaken belief that every woman minds when I objectify them. This has turned me into an archetype of my clan (the epsilon Bengali male) — terrified of talking to women, especially attractive women, and looking into their eyes at the same time. Funnily enough, this male pusillanimity is also detested by women, and unlike when we objectify them, this is something that apparently all women detest.

So what is a man to do? Does he objectify a woman after having a quiet chat with her and asking her about what she prefers to be? (“Madonna or whore? Sati Savitri or Rakshashi? On a scale of 1 to 10 please.”)

Or does he carry out a covert operation in which he treats women — barring, of course, the ones he might make erotic headway with after getting subtle or unsubtle signs of permission — as if she’s just one of the blokes with a different set of parts but actually continues his constant guerrilla warfare with?

To quote the delightful Mayawati, “I will go with the second option.”

Happy Women’s Day, Gentlemen.