Monthly Archives: January 2010

Fear & Insecurity

A conversation with a wise girlfriend you’re seeing after awhile can be food for thought. As you exchange titbits of information about news and the then and the now, there’s realization and growing up that happens in those very moments.

I mentioned a name, quite unconsciously with reference to something else. She picked it up and probed. So I told her some. And she told me what she knew, coming from a different source, a different angle. As we put the two together, her story and mine, we created an idea, based on the framework of the person we discussed.

There are of course the men who never got used to the fact that women got a vote, the right to their own bodies, education and careers as well. But there’s a different sort of man around now. This one has had ample time to get used to it. Maybe he had a strong mother. Perhaps he grew up with an ambitious sister. Or maybe he was just sharp that way and found himself the company of women like that.

That means he’s had the time to not just understand and appreciate their motives but also see their Achilles heel, hidden as it may be. The women of today are just as human as the ones that came before them. And hence, we have our own brand of insecurities and fears.

The thing is, my wise friend said,

A guy who sees that insecurity and tries to exploit it to his advantage.

Don’t we know him? We all do, we’ve encountered him at various points of time. In the case we discussed, there was a girl who my friend described as ‘not conventionally good-looking’. The guy in question knows this and seems to be using this over her as a control game. The reason this clicked was that I know when he tried a similar strategy but with a different tactic. He used age instead of looks.

Now the guy in question is of barely any, if at all, consequence to me. The reason this stayed with me is because it brought me back to my own experience of an abusive relationship all those years ago. It’s been very difficult for me to answer questions like why I stayed with him and what hold he had over me.

The answer is of course that he knew my fears and took advantage of them. No one is so strong that they have no fears. And nobody is so guarded in a relationship that keep all their secrets. But those secrets can turn into ammunition in the wrong hands.

Strangely enough our conversation earlier in the evening revolved around fairness creams. I was trying to explain why the idea of having worked with them at some point of time in my career is something I carry with heavy guilt. She admitted that she had used fairness creams for a good while herself. Then she said,

Strange as it may sound, my moment of reckoning came when I read about the Aishwarya Rai-Salman Khan relationship. To know that a woman like could get battered was to realize that it had nothing to do with looks whatsoever. And that’s when I stopped needing those creams.

Hmm, interesting. So we have our fearful secrets and we have even more furtive ways of getting over them. Those close to us can turn traitor. While those on a completely different world from us, can be our salvation.

Guilt-Reading

I’ve just finished reading my first novel of the genre called DickLit (as opposed to ChickLit).

The book by Mark Mason is called ‘What Men Think About Sex. My initial reaction, one chapter down was,

Whaaaaat? It’s fiction?

and immediately felt cheated.

Despite its seemingly nonfiction (meandering into ‘self-help’ territory?*cringe cringe*) title, it is an out-and-out fiction story set in the form of diary excerpts of the protagonist.

The story itself is quite readable and Mark Mason even manages to pull off making The Clare Jordan Five and Three-Quarter Feet Handicap Stakes sound believable. The above is a contest between two men to seduce women whose names or seduction locations start with the letters C, L, A, R and E. All because the common object of their affections bears the now-offending name of Clare Jordan. Don’t ask. It sounds bizarre but in a funny way, he manages to make it work.

On the other hand, I hate it when writers pull stunts like that, making a book sound like something else in its title. I only bought it because the blurb described it as the male ‘Sex And The City‘ which at least half of you know (assuming an equal gender-ratio split in the readership of this blog) was originally a newspaper column.

I was mildly surprised at how like ChickLit it was. I even flipped over the cover to check that I hadn’t misread what may have been a ‘Marcy’ or ‘Margaret’ Mason. No such thing….an ordinary, if not pleasant-faced man stared back at me from the book’s inner flap. The format is even like Bridget Jones’ Diary!

Okay, enough about what I don’t like about the book…but when did I say I didn’t like it? Such homogeneity with the female standpoint is reassuring.

Except, what is it with men and guilt? A particularly intriguing excerpt from the book goes on about the Guilt/Temptation trade-off. It says that men can and do feel guilt about succumbing to temptation. Exactly why they do succumb then and what’s worse, doggedly chase after such temptation-laden situations is not answered.

“Because he does. Sorry I can’t be more cogent than that, but I’m concentrating on Bloke Feelings at the moment, not Bloke logic. Which is by the way, your answer. Concentrating on feelings instead of logic is precisely what blokes do when Temptation’s hovering.”

That’s cool, really is, since women have libidos too and yes, we give in to temptation too.

What stands out to me is that none of the women I know who cheat, have experienced the kind of soul-searing Guilt that Mason describes. It’s not exactly that they are callous, but they’ve accepted their own folly and somehow made their peace with it.

It may be a fact that there are probably fewer women in such situations than men (okay, let that just be opportunity rather than character tilting the stakes). Be that as it may, shouldn’t it be easier for an average man to reconcile this conundrum? Either be strong enough to withstand temptation & wise enough to avoid it. Or lay your guilt to rest. And yet it appears, they carry it around like a festering, burdensome sore, never resolving it and mostly adding to it.

The old adage,

All men are dogs!

…used to sound to me like Anticipatory Bail. Ever notice that it’s only cheating men who say that? A sort of ‘I can’t help it, I’m a man’ thing.

Somehow I’m not sympathetic. Truly womanlike, I want to say, good job he can’t get out of the guilt then. He deserves it. Consider it my repartee to the guy who told me,

Why do women have periods? Because they deserve it!

At least I only bleed once a month. Guilt bleeds you every waking, conscious minute and if you don’t know how to tackle it, the rest of your life is an endless pursuit of distractions from your own thoughts.

How about the book itself? I guess I liked it. A small part of me, the cynical one still holds out asking,

Do real men, I mean the ones walking around everywhere really think like this? About love and a special someone and the need for a ‘spark’ over and above good looks?

And then I think of Adi, Moksh, Rohan and I have to say, at least some of them do.

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