Sunday, November 4, 2012

Too much testosterone

A point about my beloved hometown is starting to irk me. This point has always had the capacity to irk; however, now it has come to the fore  and is causing me to no longer be the cheerful spreader of sweetness and light I am known to be. I speak of the nasty presence of too many of my own species (men) wherever I go.

As I was heading to St Andrew's church for mass yesterday, I passed a group of people, presumably returning from their walk on Bandstand promenade. I felt an sudden, unexpected surge of annoyance that made me look back to determine its cause. Then it struck me; the entire group of twelve people was composed entirely of men. That some of them were (rather ironically it may seem to outsiders) holding each others' hands while ogling at passing girls is beyond the scope of this post. I will go into it another time.

Why is a group of twelve grown adults, merely going for a walk (not a game or anything  else remotely virile) composed entirely of men? That too on a Sunday, a day you'd think they'd want to get away from their male-dominated work places? It's beyond comprehension in a normal city. Alas, in Bombay, it is easily explained. You see, for every 1000 males in the city, there are a mere 866 females. And in the migrant worker population, this number drops to 153. What I saw was a mere manifestation of this unfortunate trend. A manifestation that does not occur only occasionally. Try going to Bandstand on any Sunday evening. For every member of the fairer sex, you are guaranteed to see ten penis-possessors.

If it is so easily explained, then why is still so irritating?

Firstly, it is an eyesore. Secondly, it is extremely unsafe for more balanced but smaller groups of young people, for couples or even for the occasional girl gang. Testosterone ridden males, starved of good physical and social relations with women and only each other for company tend to spend most of their time talking about what they do not have. And when they see something their tiny minds consider provocative, they often react like rabbits in the mating season.

Thirdly, and most importantly, it is a constant reminder of a much deeper and bigger problem - a cultural one. Ours is a society which revels in its penis preference. One does not have to comb too far through a newspaper to come across a horrific female foeticide in which both parents play an equal part. Dig a little deeper and you find cases of abandoned baby girls; if the abandonment is injury enough, the place that is chosen(generally a dustbin or a railway station) is insult served up in copious proportions. And of course, there is that which all of us are immune to by now: the staple dose of rapes, molestations and brazen Indian arrogance from authorities who claim that 'dressing' actually has a part to play in it all.

The ideal way to deal with this nasty state of affairs is a long term project - one of mass education and exposure in the proper sense of the words. But at any rate, given the diversity we are so proud of in this country and the large numbers of subhuman vote banks that can be manipulated to do the bidding of any corrupt power, this project would likely see tangible results after at least another three generations. And that's being optimistic.

In order to supplement this idealistic strategy, something more concrete needs to be done. Something even a subhuman can understand and appreciate; something centred around money. I can think of a dozen welfare schemes to promote the girl child. I'm sure you can, I'm sure our lawmakers can. I'm not talking about quotas or reservations, I'm talking about solid monetary rewards for producing females. That it may inherently be flawed to have a scheme that promotes one sex over the other and encourages 'choice' is a point worth debating. Nonetheless, it is flaw I am ready to bypass. It will anyhow be a long time before Indian couples start terminating male pregnancies on account of the monetary benefit girl chidren are going to afford them. And we can deal with that eventuality when it is closer at hand.

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