‘Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere’. Were the tragic pawns of dangerous liaisons—Madhumita Shukla, Bhanwari Devi, Geetika Sharma, Kavita Rani—‘Cosmo Girls’? Who knows, but it’s as if Helen Gurley Brown, Cosmopolitan’s zesty editor and author of the ’60s DIY book, Sex and the Single Girl, whose quote this was and who died this week, could have been their idol. Brown may have taught a generation of women feminine guile, but that is not the point—she also inspired generations to throw all caution to the wind and have it all.
Perhaps it was this spirit of spontaneity that empowered the fiery young balladeer of Lakhimpur Kheri, in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh, who became a star in the local kavi sammelans (poetry sessions), to have a torrid and ill-fated affair with notorious politician Amarmani Tripathi? Madhumita was 21, Tripathi was 45, married, a father, and had 30 criminal cases pending against him. But she was independent, unrestrained—a child prodigy who was invited all over to take part in sammelans, and was the sole earner in her family.
Was it a similar recklessness that spurred Bhanwari Devi, the 36-year-old auxiliary nurse and midwife from Jodhpur, Rajasthan, to conspire with her husband and associates to blackmail their political benefactor, former Congress minister Mahipal Maderna, with an incriminating sex CD? Bhanwari went missing for almost a year before her remains were found in a deserted canal. Maderna is in jail for conspiring to kill her. What was the impulse that swept off Kavita Rani, a 29-year-old lecturer at the Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut, to become an influential broker because of her alleged links with powerful politicians? She was found dead after missing for eight months. Or the terror that kept pulling the latest victim, Geetika Sharma, a 23-year-old former airhostess with MDLR Airlines, who committed suicide in Delhi last week? She named her chairman Gopal Kanda, whose position as Haryana’s MoS for home affairs affords him a direct say over the state’s police, and his harassment as the reason for taking her own life. The disgraced Kanda is on the run.
Clearly, what gave these girls their chutzpah was that women’s lib has redefined what it means to be a woman—you can be bold, adventurous, empowered and enjoy it. And you don’t have to end up dead. They may have been both progressive and retrogressive given their circumstances, but they were self-made, smart, sexual and ambitious go-getters. Some enjoyed the good life, or were captivated by the thrill of political power, or simply rode the wave of sexual consent and liberation. They could have been victors living their lives, but they became victims in the battle of the sexes.
For, herein lies the rub—in the mating game of cohabitation and passion, while the women have inherited a lust for independence, the men have remained primeval, mean-spirited and illiberal. While they were incurably attracted to the vivacious and sprightly young women, who brought with them a vitality and spunk they would never have dared look for in their own homes, the men were swift and ruthless to snuff it out when it became inconvenient.
In fact, if one had to put the story on its head, the gender debate surely beats the hell out of men. Obviously, we are not referring to the criminals above, but where are the men in the gender story? While women have successfully fought and won several triumphs in the workplace, inheritance rights, birth control choices, gender roles, etc for whatever it’s worth, where do the men fit in? Has redefining masculinity even begun in public discourse? Is masculinity and manliness rooted in biology or in the demands of cultural machismo stereotyping?
Gender programming has left the poor blokes holding on to a violent, patriarchal world, stuck with performance anxiety, feudal fornication and misguided aggression. Is being tough the only weapon they have? Isn’t it time to boot out violence to preserve patriarchy?
If you pushed the idea further, it’s funny, but if the first wave of feminism saw women trying to be like men, it seems the first wave of manism is making men wanting to be like women. So, those who want to smash out of the machismo rage now preen as the caring, gentle, tender metrosexual man; or he is the buffed, coiffed, glossy six-pack man; he can be a bromancer (close nonsexual friendship between men) and he loves his Brotox (botox for the guys). So, men now want to touch their inner Barbies.
Is the manist movement ready to kick off? Are men ready to rethink their ideals of masculinity and manhood? What do women want from men? Where are the manists? It’s time the men have their Virility Monologues.
Apropos Vrinda Gopinath’s piece Difficulties with Girls, the ‘other woman’ syndrome is as old as the hills; let’s not blame Helen Gurley Brown for it.
Behind every successful neta, there’s a baba, and behind his downfall, a babe.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
15 D Saleem,
If you think this article was written ( that too, so painstakingly by feminists ) for 'voyeurism reasons', you are sadly mistaken.
It is part of a sinister media campaign to discredit ALL males through myths, lies and insinuations. Wrapped, of course, in 'voyeurism' - casual sex and powerful murder.
Historically, women have been at a 'psychological war' with men, in order to enslaving them and making them work for them. This 'war' includes groupism and propaganda.
This article is only another example, of how feminists can distort reality to convince males to feel guilty about themselves.
Woman always knows that her temptation is her secret weapon and a man always knows his trangression is always an excuse. There is no point in turning someone's tragedy into a debate for voyeurism reasons.
Let's not beat around the bush and accept the fact of life/nature, i.e. just as men like to lay women for pleasure, the women also like to get laid by men, except in some cases for reasons which are more than just pleasure, like getting something extra. Look at Prince Harry; despite being caught naked amidst naked girls on camera enjoying a wild sex romp in a Vegas hotel, he's still bullish about it, while the Royal family is trying to find fault with media, just like the author is trying to blame it on men,
Check out http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/sun_says/4502239/Prince-Harry-Vegas-Pictures-The-Sun-publishes-photos-of-naked-Prince.html .
So let's not be gender specific, and just wish that whomsoever has consciously made a choice about having sex with someone, should not take the foolish step of doing anything stupid like committing suicide.
In the graphics to go with the story, why the (de)-evolution from cave-man to desi neta-man? Aren't you worried of the netas hauling you for contempt of our democracy. Is it because all the men used in the article as examples are desi netas. I am sure this is not limied to Netas - though they have their fair share in it.
This "fire" wasn't started by these women or women's lib or the east or west. To rephrase a song "... the four women mentioned didn't start the fire, the fire has always been burning since the worlds been turning ..... we didn't start the fire ....". This is about the oldest headiest cocktail know to mankind (women too) - sex, power and money.
Even the great modern liberal, Ted Kennedy, remember was suspected to have "caused" his mistress death in car crash. Of course, he got away legally though paid the price by never being able to run for President, as the Kennedy tradition (btw, from all accounts all the Kennedy brother partaked frequently in this cocktail).
Point is let us not a big deal and get into de-construction or make it something new.
Of course, our laws about adult suicide and abetment of adult suicide are silly. We seem to not want adults to be adults. Why abetment - charge with murder if there is a case and prove it by that standard. An adult commits suicide, blames someone for it, and their life is just turned upside down between media, and authorities. I shudder - sounds like you just cannot piss any one off for this fear. Not to mention our mainstream media becoming like tabloids.
"Is masculinity and manliness rooted in biology or in the demands of cultural machismo stereotyping? "
"Is masculinity and manliness rooted in biology or in the demands of cultural machismo stereotyping? "
Yes it is. Read Desmond Morris (Naked Ape, The Human Zoo)
It may be noted that for every single Apha Male there are hundreds of males who are subservient (or become rogue elephants on lonely roads).
In the Monkey Groups all females tamely submit to the dominant Monkey in the group. The dominant monkey drives out competing male monkeys out of the group. One may note the Jungle permits freedom in the true sense. The weaker male is out of the game : "Natural Selection".
In the human society the Alpha Male is one who wields Power - ambitious women (alpha types?) are attracted by them. But it would be wrong to stereotype all males and all females in the same group.
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