THE BLOG

Why Women Must Gift Men Handkerchiefs, Dictionaries And Glue

The inner fears that make men grope, catcall and molest.

09/01/2017 1:14 PM IST | Updated 10/01/2017 8:58 AM IST
Abhishek Chinnappa / Reuters
Is the bravado of men merely a mask?

After reading and watching the news about the Bengaluru "mass molestation" incident on New Year's Eve, I was compelled to make sense of why men would behave the way they did that night and on numerous other such occasions. Come to think of it, there has to be something off-key inside a person's psyche to engage in an act that departs from common public decorum. After poking around the issue it has come to light that though this fight is about equality for women in every sphere of life, it should also be one to cure men of an all-pervading condition that they're suffering from and are unable to articulate.

[S]ociety has broken [men's] humanness and made them frightened individuals who can't take full responsibility of their emotions and have to project them on to women.

A man's predatory sexual behavior in public places, private corners, or even at the workplace is a matter of, what psychology calls, "projective identification". Projective identification is a defense mechanism defined by a person's need to preserve beliefs about themselves by disowning aspects of themselves that don't fit the definition. When young boys are raised to dissociate with and often fear dependence, passivity, and vulnerability, they grow up to become adult versions of themselves who project these very feelings on to women to maintain their mental image of themselves. Men tend to get women to embody their feelings that embarrass them so that they can define themselves by distinction. For example, every time a man causes a woman to fear him, he appears fearless himself in contrast. It is a collective movement to maintain an image men were brought up on by excessive praise for strength, agency and toughness. Simply put, men have been scared into "submission to strength" all their lives and they've been doing a grand job of it if you notice.

Handkerchiefs

By making our boys incapable of feeling anything that is "weak", society has broken their humanness and made them frightened individuals who can't take full responsibility of their emotions and have to project them on to women. This also explains why the patriarchy's core attributes such as power, control, and superiority are upheld over presumed weaker attributes such as emotional expressiveness, compassion, and nurturing. By distancing themselves from what men consider to be weaker emotions, they have established a cultural domination that is proving very hard to break and causing extreme acts of violence that cause shock but do not invoke punishment.

It is this culture of male superiority that approves of this predatory behavior and the herd gives them the needed courage to believe they're right. Therefore, groping, catcalling and scaring women in public places are not entirely acts of power, but also displays of their own projection of their feelings of fear, vulnerability and weakness that men have been denied. But since they're unable to articulate their refusal to comply with this submission, women have been putting up with their baffling displays of physical expression and feeling their emotions for them. Alas, even in matters of feeling, women have to do the job for men. Therefore, to start with, women must buy men handkerchiefs and lock them in an empty room alone to cry so they can fully feel. Unfortunately, it is not an all-encompassing solution. We're going to have to buy them a few more things.

Dictionaries

In a commencement speech at a university, Joseph Brodsky, the Russian Nobel Laureate, offered young men and women six pieces of wisdom on how to live meaningful lives in the adult world. One of these was to be "precise with your language" so that one is able to articulate oneself effectively as one goes through life's meandering, wondrous and frightful gullies. The idea behind this was to avoid a possible neurosis caused due to "accumulation of things not spelled out, not properly articulated".

[T]here is a theory that assumes the cause of domestic violence as a man's inability to express himself with words, the related strain of which causes him to use his hands...

Incidentally, there is a theory that assumes the cause of domestic violence as a man's inability to express himself with words, the related strain of which causes him to use his hands, and consequently his body. How else would you explain a man's complete inability to understand simple words such as "No" and "Stop"? Two words, one syllable each, and used as frequently as the sun rises in the sky. It's baffling that men show complete incomprehension of everyday words when they're resorting to express their uninvited sexual urges. It's an unchecked neurosis of the male kind which might also result from the male need to project their identification to the female, and we should be ashamed that as a society we've let such an ailment go untreated for so long. Isn't that why we hear the same phrases and words over and over again? "Boys will be Boys" "Not All Men" "These things happen." Do you think a human being with a better understanding of themselves and what they're feeling would say the same words over and over, and completely refuse to engage in a worthy dialogue?

I wish it would suffice to say that to get men to keep their hands to themselves women must also buy them a leather-bound dictionary in whatever language they're mildly proficient. But there's more.

RBB

Glue

Our society has blessed groping as a shortcut to intimacy. Imagine having to allow oneself to experience varied emotions (that also include the weak ones), work up a vocabulary to express them, and then seek an intimacy that comes willingly. Sounds like hard work, doesn't it? That's what the men think too. They secretly find themselves to be uninteresting, unkind or not-funny, and therefore resort to stealing the intimacy they would have otherwise have had to work for. By giving them sanction to cash in on the shortcut, we allow our men to continue to be stilted people completely unable to invest in their own growth.

By touching women without their consent... men [are] also displaying their own belittled opinion of themselves. They want to touch women intimately, but are convinced that they won't be invited to do so.

By touching women without their consent, not only are men violating the right to their bodies, but also displaying their own belittled opinion of themselves. They want to touch women intimately, but are convinced that they won't be invited to do so. Additionally, patriarchy supplements this by telling men that their need for love and care can only be met by being masculine, which is a term that has taken on assumed definitions of power, strength and ultimately violence. This speaks of a much larger fractured sense of self that needs all kinds of mending. So, I'd recommend we also buy them some glue of a most reputed kind. It must stick. It must stay. If men would like to add powdered gold or silver to the glue to patch up their broken selves, let the women know, they'll set up a trust fund.

***

It should be noted that if all men are projecting their feelings of weakness on women, and so many women across the world have been denied the right to equality and live in perpetual inferiority to men—what men actually think of themselves. They have been denied the right to assert their visceral intimate feelings, and have been in bondage for so long that it has metamorphosed into a gangrene of a completely different kind attributed to a completely different gender. Why are we crying hoarse to free the women when men need freedom, too? This is not a women's-only issue, as women are not the causal elements of it; they're the ones who suffer the effects.

The real challenge is... to assure our men we won't laugh at them for feeling defenseless, for their tears, or even for fumbling for intimacy.

When men in positions of power proclaim that women have invited acts of violence by men, sexual or otherwise, upon themselves, they're disregarding a gender disease that afflicts them in ways they do not comprehend and cannot articulate. Therefore, the real challenge is not to keep women locked inside homes so they can be safe, but to raise boys to grow up to be humans who can feel, speak, and touch in human ways rather than the warped methods men across the world have resorted to. The real challenge is not to get women to be coy and behave acceptably, but to assure our men we won't laugh at them for feeling defenseless, for their tears, or even for fumbling for intimacy. While we make avenues open for women to be treated with the equality they deserve, we must also make channels open for men to realise that they're under slavery they've engendered for themselves. And being under bondage does not condone their crimes, it makes them untreatable unless they consent to participate in the cure.

If we don't let men become human again, women will have to keep doing the expressive, emotive, and intimate living for them. And honestly, the women can't keep doing it anymore. They're getting increasingly tired living two lives to the fullest. While we wait for men to acknowledge their disorder, as a symbol of accepting their condition, women are encouraged to gift men handkerchiefs, dictionaries, and fastidious glue.

Endangered Animals

More On This Topic

SPONSORED BY THE LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH FOUNDATION