The Jezebel Curse

I am no misandrist. In fact some of my best friends are men, though given the content of this piece I run the risk of being pilloried. But I’ll take it on my chin.

The truth is woman have it tough.

It’s a man’s world and so it’s natural I guess for women to get the rough end, though I would not like to paint all men with the same tar brush. My dad’s a good guy and I’ve been lucky to know some really nice men, but they’re a rapidly diminishing lot. It’s the scum sucking sort that abound, and every now and then you’ll bump into a few, just to keep your short-term memory refreshed.

Living here in India we’ve been lucky. Lucky to have seen a lot of powerful women, across various fields and through generations. For a country that’s largely patriarchal, we’ve had great female role models, women who’ve been powerhouses in their own right, not merely essaying roles as the wives of famous men. Come on… we were among the first to vote a woman to the most powerful office in the country and yet the sad truth remains that we do have a dismal female to male sex ratio, one that gets skewed more and more towards producing male offspring.

So who’s responsible?

Women in India are their own worst enemies, is what an American friend told me once, quickly adding that it was the same back home. It’s an old story she said, passed on from generation to generation, perpetuating the stereotype of the man being the bread-winner and hence entitled to a larger share of everything. Yes… gender discrimination happens around the globe. And in many southern states in America and in some north eastern ones as well, a woman’s place is spent between the kitchen and the bedroom of their home, with sixteen being the minimum marriageable age for girls, and some states dropping it down further to fourteen or even thirteen, if Mamma and Papa give their consent.

It’s essentially the same everywhere.

So are women at fault for perpetuating these injustices on themselves? I have my own take on it… I feel that often when you’re pushed into a corner, like many women are, you make it your home. It’s a question of survival, coupled with ignorance and illiteracy and is what has enslaved nations, communities and peoples over centuries. Times they are a changing they say, but for many of the world’s female population it looks like time has just stood still, taking a few leaps back in certain sub-Saharan nations and in some countries in the Middle East or in places like Utah or New Hampshire and in villages in Haryana.

It’s been that way from time immemorial, going back to that sixth day and the creation of that insufferably lame first guy, who as the story goes, traded his rib for a woman, who stole an apple which he ate and enjoyed. Then, feeling slighted at her ingenuity went and ratted her out to the big boss… typical. And then they get chucked out of Eden… but he wanted out anyway… so he’s not complaining. All alone he was, Adam, in that idyllic paradise of a place, then he cops a deal and gets a woman… and the Lord says to him, “go forth and multiply”, but wanted to watch… and Adam couldn’t go forth and so it stayed platonic. But Adam was desperate, so he pouted and then feigned hunger and poor Eve desperate to please came up with some ingenious plan to keep her man happy, but it back-fired on her and got them booted out.

Now they’re out and no one’s watching so they finally do go forth and multiply and produce…what else… but sons, who eventually grow up and also have to go forth… and Hell, now I’m confused and knocking on Darwin’s door because there’s no other woman around except for their Ma… but they do end up populating the earth.

I think it’s time to retire Oedipus.

Seriously Eve… If I were you I would have made off with the serpent.

Further down the biblical track and there’s King David, who’s like the beloved of God and a peeping tom… or so it reads on his rap sheet.  So this one time he looks across the wall and sees Bathsheba, his neighbour Uriah’s wife bathing in the garden… The minx! And he got a rise out of it. But Shoot! She’s married! I suppose David was honorable in some weird way or maybe she just gave him the bird and told him to vamoose. Whatever it was, the fact was that she and he weren’t going to happen, at least not while Uriah was around. So David sent him off to be killed, coveted her… whether with or without her consent hasn’t been chronicled, and then danced his way naked, right into God’s forgiveness, while everyone wagged their finger at that shameless and clueless Bathsheba.

So I wander closer home, with all our Sati’s and Savitri’s bending back and forth as per the whims of their mighty lords to whom they’re tied for seven lifetimes, when one is often just too much and think about poor innocent Sita abducted by that wily villain who had a beef with her husband, but was otherwise quite the gentleman and didn’t mess with her. So yeah she gets rescued… and I’m thinking why rescue the girl if you’re going to doubt her chastity and make her walk through fire, especially when you know what they say about lie-detectors. So yeah she almost gets tossed out of the window… well, metaphorically speaking and gets saved by a Copperfield stunt and no one thinks about asking her husband to take a test. Oh no! Even the thought would be sacrilege… after all it’s never about the dude…

So much for the olden days.

Then we leap-frog into the 21st century and see that nothing’s changed and women are still commodities, objects to be traded and trafficked in or just used and thrown away, unless of course you have a strong and ‘open-minded’ man around you or unless you’ve been labeled feminist, with its accompanying disdain. Yes, we’re in the 21st century, surrounded by the Kobe Bryants and Tiger Woods’ of the world and Schwarzenegger sleeps with the help and everyone looks shocked except for Shiney Ahuja and his wife who jumps up yelling… “Didn’t I say the maid did it?”

So people gasp and ask… “How could that ungrateful wretch do it to poor Maria?” The wretch in question being the maid, according to everyone… except Jane Seymour. Poor Maria, who comes from a family where infidelity should be inscribed on the family crest on her maternal side of the family, and Arnie and Mildred, both immigrants, desperate to be accepted, bad accents notwithstanding… knowing they’ll always be on the outside. I’ll bet it was tough for the big man living with the ghosts of all those Kennedy’s roaming around with nothing of his own to write home about, no great legacy except for corny lines in a few over-rated movies. No Monroe’s, no Mary Jane Kopechne’s of his own, just some two bit starlets and the odd hooker or two… nothing to get him a notch in that belt… so a little rumble in the sheets while the missus was away and now at least he has a son to show for it. Hold that belt up high Arnie…

Meanwhile Maria’s contemplating divorce and Mildred’s in hiding, hoping that the hoopla dies down soon… so she can have a moment to think and decide who to sell her story to… Aah… She may as well. Now that she’s out on her fanny and has an extra mouth to feed… and he won’t be back.

Seriously…if boys will be boys, I think it’s time girls took charge as well. And while I’m no admirer of infidelity and believe that a woman who has sex with a married man should be held morally accountable. More often than not, they get all the flak, while the man who has not merely a moral but also a legal responsibility to stay honest to his spouse gets away with nothing but a slap on the wrist.

So good on you Mildred! Squeeze it for all its worth.

And Maria… here’s hoping you get the best divorce attorney his money will buy.

There’s no going gently girls… It’s time to bury the Jezebel curse.

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