Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Subjection of Women

It has become a sad truth in our country that a single woman with a prospect of bright career is in need of a disastrous marriage. After they cross mid twenties social obloquy reach such a level that they are forced to make rash decisions which ultimately ruin their lives to the complete ignorance of the society at large who are fundamentally responsible for the outcome. I do not only refer to the domestic violence that often follows such failed marriages but the lifelong of mental torture, sacrifice, humiliation that these women have to endure all alone.  And for what I ask you, all because we cannot tolerate the fact the girl of such age can still be single.

It is with utter sadness that I have seen so many of my female friends and acquaintances bowing down to such unjustified pressure and ending up marrying men who neither had the broadness of mind nor the strength of mental character to allow their wives to pursue their dreams. It is as if marriage is a kind of bondage, modern day slavery, a new art in subjugation of women. I was privy to the narrow-mindedness that these men could stoop to; some forced their wives to leave their job, successfully destroying their career, or ordering them to stop making social calls to their friends and in some cases not letting them visit their parents! Furthermore these men supposedly came from middle class educated background, so much for our Asian values and education. Some of these men gloated over the fact that they could force their wives to make enormous sacrifices; it is as if was a potent display of some sort of masculine prowess. In all honesty I believe they would have made even Marquis de Sade cringe. One has to be sufficiently senile and cowardly to feel good about themselves after committing such crimes and make no mistake reader crime they are. The psychological basis for their pusillanimous behaviour is their male egos which have been unduly buffeted by a patriarchal culture which belittles women contribution to the society. It is as if by simply being born male they have been given a god gifted right to be superior, how intellectually challenged and dense one has to be to subscribe to such archaic medieval notion.

Who do we blame for this apart from the ‘men’ who are too insecure to let their women folk independence? I say the society at the large, the relatives, the family, the whole culture, is to be blamed for this. We have promoted a culture where independence and freedom of thought are frowned upon, whereas timidity and lack of originality a boon. So the moment we see a single educated woman working with a stable job, we feel the urge to get her hitched, not bothering to figure out whether the person is ready or not. Once she is married we conveniently forget how she survives, whether she is indeed living a better life or is she suffering under an oppressive husband. God forbid if she ever discloses her pangs or sufferings to others, it is with utter disdain that most of us respond; instead of solace she is thrown further pangs and darts. Unfortunately other women who should have extended their hand find more joy and happiness in discussing how supposedly ill-equipped the lady is to deal with her husband. I have seen parents suggesting their married daughters to get back to their abusing husband, who thrashed her black and blue, after all what would the society say otherwise. It is as if the common lot of the women kind is to suffer and sacrifice with a smiling face.   

I beseech these women don’t look to others for salvation, for you will not get it. Look to yourself, be independent and understand that you do not need a man to survive in this world. If you allow people to use you then they shall, for at the end of the day we are animals only that we have bigger brains, which is a reason for concern and not a comfort. Bangladeshi man can be bigoted sadistic crude and in fact most of the time they indeed are. While you may think that the social pressure is unbearable and things will improve the moment you marry, even if the person seems a bit dicey, then you are grossly mistaken. The society will forget you, and so will your family, you will be left alone to fend yourself and if you end up marrying the wrong guy, which in Bangladesh is probabilistically quite high, then you have a lifetime of misery awaiting you. I ask you, is it worth sacrificing your entire life, your dreams and aspiration so that people, who hardly care, are pleased.
If a man is dictatorial and orders you around then stay away from him, save your life, nothing good will come of it. We are born equal and no amount of social etiquettes, traditions and values can alter that. Women are not commodity to be played around and for men to understand this, women need to rise up and stand for their rights. As a man, this is my humble warning to the remaining free women of this country. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

In praise of dishonesty

Caveat lector, let the reader beware, this is not a satire. The author wholeheartedly believes in what the title states. True there might be some subtly and sophistry involved even some degree of qualification but on the whole the statement stands.  There is a strong belief in this society and others elsewhere that honesty in all its form is good and beneficial. I believe it is a pernicious view which can only harm us and make us pessimistic especially considering the time we live in. Look around us and you will see disorder, hatred, corruption and other such fiendish things. Are we not supposed to espouse the efficacy and need for honesty and such other commendable values? The answer, if not obvious to you all, is a resounding no. For if indeed moral appeal did work it would have worked by now. This battle against moral degradation needs to be fought with cunningness and Machiavellian style; moral luminaries of the world might disagree but then my response would be they can go and inflict pain elsewhere.

Jose Saramago, the Nobel laureate writer said "Pessimists are the ones who change the world, for the optimists being the ones who are enthralled with what it is.", at the expense of sounding extremely conceited, I think he got it wrong. It is not the pessimists but rather the unreasonable ones, as Bernard Shaw suggested, on whom all progress depends. One has to be unreasonable and deeply so, in order to believe there exists a bright future for this country; our future depends on such a belief. We can bicker, quiver, and lash out venomous satires against the society but of what good is it?  Yes it might make us feel superior as if we are above these squalid creatures or criminals but that’s about it, much ado about nothing. What we need is a heroic unreasonable belief that the country is in a good state, be dishonest with ourselves and for a change not complain. Yes we have heard it all, the crime rate, the fraud, the traffic, the imminent devastating earthquakes, the politics and what not. What good has it done us? US cities have more crime rate than ours, Chinese government is far more corrupt than ours, New York probably has the worse traffic jams in the world!
Our negativism justified or not, has real life consequences. When we grow abroad and interact with foreigners we ourselves give the vibe that they shouldn’t invest in Bangladesh and then at the same time vehemently protest Government’s inability to promote FDI, how patently ridiculous. We are ambassadors of our country and this has to be recognized, self pity is the sign of weakness and inadequacy. Our media needs to be dishonest too; there I have committed a blasphemy. As Oscar Wilde rightly pointed out "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life”. I can already see critics, especially the bardolators among them,  going but the purpose of art is " . . . to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature." And I should say let the literary genius rest. Instead of giving stories on number people dying and disappearing let us give news on positive ones too; yes something like the Rickshaw puller returning BDT 2.5 lakh. But don’t make them sound inspiring and unique, make them look common place. It is precisely their uniqueness and the way they are covered, with grandeur and pomposity, that defeats all its purpose. Instead of inspiring further act of heroism it only strengthens our pessimism. They should be in the back page, in a small section, just like an occasional theft; subliminal message that is what is needed.

As for our video media, ah the level of honesty is simply sickening. The dramas portray dysfunctional families and the pervasive sadness in our life, the so called art film, as if we were oblivious to reality. What we need is believable characters that have veneer of normality, which allows the audience to relate to them, and yet have some edifying qualities which inspires the viewers. For instance a character who makes a point of using foot over bridge when crossing a road or waits for the red light to cross the road using a zebra crossing. This alone can probably reduce our traffic congestion significantly, if the drama is of any good. It is also about rational expectation, the more people are bombarded with work of ‘heroism’, the more people will take them for granted and when confronted with similar situation will react accordingly. Human beings thankfully are cognitive misers; the universal maxim of our age as Schopenhauer said is “to get by with the least possible expenditure of thought”. Hence with such little dishonesty on the part of the vaunted guardian of truth i.e. media, much can be achieved at the trifling cost of conscience.

If the reader is detested by the aforesaid ribaldry then the fault squarely lies on the reader for he/she, lest I look gender biased, was forewarned. If at all I sincerely hope that I have inflicted you with some level of doubt after all better doubt in knowledge than certainty in ignorance.