Me Tarzan

Posted on December 8, 2007
Filed Under >Qandeel Shaam, Humor, Society
56 Comments
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Qandeel Shaam

Me Tarzan, You Pseudo-Puritanical-Silent-Maid-Who-Slaves-To-My-In satiable-Ego-For-Life

It is very, very tempting to lump the male of our species under a single category – i.e. insecure, self-indulgent imp who boasts a chauvinistic pride based solely on an alphabetical mishap (designated ‘XY’ by geneticists.) But, I shall temporarily lend credence to the postmodernist notion of diversity and resist such a temptation.

Not too long ago, Raza Rumi made a humorous contribution to the issue of gender stereotyping by creating different boxes Pakistani women must inevitably fit into “or else….” I would like to attempt a similar parody – of Pakistani men. I have socio-politico-feminist reasons for doing so. Nothing too personal, rest assured. My meagre understanding and observation of Pakistani men has led to the groupings you find below.

The aim is to see if the boxes “tick” and what the Pakistani man has to say to that. There’s no denying that in our society it has almost always been the woman who has had to defend herself, no matter what the circumstance. The man prosecutes but is seldom prosecuted. Has he no responsibility for the debilitated condition of women in Pakistan? I include in this the “liberal” Pakistani male who is well-versed in the slogans for woman’s lib, but silently and secretly accepts the sexist codes embedded in our social make-up. Perhaps the Hudoods and the Hisbas offer him a kind of a guilty comfort – a telling reminder of his superior rank, making for a very cushiony fallback position should his ego get so desperate?

The point is that by just keeping quiet he is perpetuating the status quo. Now it is easy to forgive an ignorant man, but not an educated man’s passivity.

Chichora extraordinaire: he is the plankton of our society. You will find his type, always flashy and smirking, floating about in abundance in the dirty waters that make up our bazaars and gallis (mind you, he has also been spotted on the streets of Southall and many other desi ghetto areas across the globe). Blessed with a natural affinity for ogling and elbowing, he cannot help but make the woman feel like she is the first and only woman he has ever seen. The ability – to effortlessly yet expressively reduce the woman to an object – is truly unique to this group.

Proud owner of a whirligig-wife: “marriage” was a business transaction and “wife” his purchased item. He actually believes he owns her like one would a 15 sq. m. utility area, or a whirligig to be spun at his whim. Her very existence is defined by his demands/moods/wants/needs.

I used to know a woman in Pakistan, mother of four, who was owned by such a man. One day she set herself on fire. Alas, fate can sometimes have a very cruel sense of irony: she survived the suicide attempt, and now lies paralyzed and strapped to her charpai, dependent on that evil man to feed her liquefied food from a straw.

Men from all socio-economic backgrounds can fall into this category. On the one extreme of this group you find a battered and broken-spirited wife who has been used and abused throughout her marriage. She may try to kill herself or avoid doing so for the sake of her children. On the other extreme you have those jittery, slightly neurotic, wives, who jump at the mention of their husbands. They are trained poodles, craftily brainwashed by their owner to always behave in accordance with his specific and strict code of ethics and etiquettes. Constantly fearful of making a wrong move at the grave displeasure of her owner, I can’t imagine life to be any more than a litany of lament for her. (I’d equate the relationship to bonded labour but I don’t wish to benumb your senses with too much reality.)

Napoleon-complex: also known as Small Man Syndrome, its members subscribe to a rather intense, at times aggressive, policy towards women. Having nurtured his own inferiority complex by fixating on a physical or mental “inadequacy” of some kind, he seeks compensation for his “shortcomings” via dominance. Caught up in a maelstrom of self-doubt and suspicion in others, he projects his insecurities onto women (conveniently considered the weaker sex.)

Whereas most men would be inclined to judge women based on unfair stereotypes, I feel the tendency is more accentuated in this group. He has a need to prove and establish his superiority. He may adopt a more machismo look; buffing up to resemble Salman Khan or flagrantly affronting innocent passer-bys in public displays of aggression. Or he may try to convince you that he is very funny, or very rich, or very clever, or a ‘very’ of something that is enough to delude him to thinking that he commands more power in relation to someone else. Such extreme competitiveness can be channelled positively in the workplace, but his unfortunate misgivings reinforce the sad power plays between the genders.

New Age sexists: he is of the variety I mentioned at the beginning: sexist by his sheer silence. He doesn’t ogle other women or try to “own” his own. But he passively accepts the system; acting immune to the discrimination he sees around him.

He is the liberal parvenu and poseur: more concerned with affecting the manners of a woman’s-liberationist rather than making any effort to understand and implement the principles he’s supposed to espouse. Because at the end of the day, he’s not the victim, and so why should he bother? And let’s not forget that he actually gets to enjoy the many perks of living in a sexist, patriarchal society.

So, do Pakistani men continue to be conscripted into the groups outlined above? If so, Why? What can Pakistani men do to break these moulds – thus breaking a very entrenched and harsh form of gender discrimination in our society? Finally, is there a Pakistani man who is doing something/anything to combat sexist attitudes towards women? Please come forward and bewilder us all.

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56 responses to “Me Tarzan”

  1. soomro says:

    but women like hunks, badboys, studs and dominant and muscular and attractive men.
    these are the type of men who are most sexually active and women are happy to have sex with them casually (before the settle down with the ideal husband ofcourse)

    nice guys with good personalites finish last. good manner etc. these things are important if you want to be their JUST-FRIENDS.

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