Bachao, Bachao… & here comes the HE-MAN!!

These days my wife has found a new game with which she keeps herself entertained with my almost 3 year old son… Lying (in both meanings of the word) at the edge of the bed she shouts “Bachao… Bachao”… hearing this, my son comes running (bouncing and jumping really) from the hall and he pushes her back to the centre saying, “Hu Spiderman chu… hutane bachavu chu… jo mea tane bachavi didho” (I am Spiderman… I will save you… see I saved you)… sometimes he is lion… sometimes he is Ben 10… but essentially he is the hero… and my wife would then pull him up, hug him, kiss him… and this is not only restricted to saving her from falling off the bed… the same game is played in various other modes… when my wife does not want me to say or do anything against her wishes… she calls for her savior “Bachao… Bachao… jo daddy mane gusso kare che” (save me… save me… daddy is getting angry at me)… and enter the hero – my son, who would then push me back and tell me to stop talking…

While this seems (and it really is) so cute and sweet… what I realized was that how typically at such a small age we are stereotyping genders… my wife plays so much with other people’s daughters… but they are never asked to Bachao…

Forget movies for older kids and above… even in the children cartoons that come on TV, the guy (even in childhood) who is saving someone is almost always a boy… the girl is the innocent one… sweet little damsel… sometimes in distress… all the movies the kids are exposed to, there is this stereotyping… all books they read… there is this stereotyping… Even the rare Rani Lakshmibai story has this element of need for her to be that way because her man is no longer there…

Cut from childhood – fast forward to teenage adolescence / young adult hood till early few years of marriage… is there a wonder than that all men (grown up kids really) want to have a girl friend / someone special in their life… While there is the other angle of being seen as cool (for which girl friend is essential) this days… the primal reasons seem to be only 2: the physical one – the need for a female companion at that age having a lot to do with raging hormones that need physical satisfaction… and the psychological one – being the hero who can save the princess, the provider who serves the need of the beauty, the shoulder on which the damsel in distress can lean on…

While the negative aspects of the physical yearnings lead to affairs and one night stands… which though immoral, leave a relatively lesser impact on the man… the psychological one causes at times immeasurable destruction to a man’s ability to stand up… the white nerd in the Hindi movie ‘Pyar Ke Side Effect’ essayed out that role very well… Oh what that feeling it is to be recognized as a hero by someone – that pride in ones manliness, that ego boost powered by those female tears on your shoulders… the higher the heights to which they take, the bigger is the drop from that levels… So many platonic guys have gone into depression…

Forward life a little and post some years (say 3+) of marriage and these drivers somewhere vanish… I still don’t know if it is the grinds of managing a family, home, parents, job, partner or what not… that kill the raging hormones… or their getting subdued is natural… but that hero image certainly has died its natural end… for all movies end when the hero gets or saves the heroine… now what should the hero do afterwards… the poor manly soul now does not have the faintest of idea… and all that is left are dull drudgery’s called marital duties…

Seriously…  I have know so many people whose love from their love marriage has vanished… and while a lot of times people blame it on worldly duties, taking each other for granted, realizing different dreams, etc… no one actually realizes that from a man’s perspective, his basic drive to be the hero is no longer there… he has served and achieved the end which he was always consciously or unconsciously exposed to… and he has never known any other dream that his hormones had powered for pleasure or satisfaction…  all that bringing up of the family, taking care of parents, bringing up children, etc were imbibed in him as a duty – not sold and drilled into him as anything for fun or pleasure…

This over hyping of heroism phenomenon is not just limited to causing deep psychological blows in adolescence and making a man seem lost after some years of marriage… it is also one of the unseen hindrances in bringing equality between men and women… I am surprised as to how come the Shoba De’s of the world have not protested vociferously against this discriminatory gender stereotyping right from a young age…

To ensure I am not misunderstood… I am not against selling heroism… oh please… if we were not sell a bigger dream to hearts… mankind would only degrade itself and progress no further… And except for that game mentioned at the start of the write up, nothing has happened to me in personal life – they are my observations… so no personal rants here…

What I am against is this stereotyping of genders… and I don’t know if the intellectuals that frame policies / write books, the parents who bring up kids, the leaders of the world, the entertainers who influence masses… realize the harm they are causing…

Any thoughts???

– Written on 22 March 2012

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