Valuing the Feminine


Sex ratio drops in many parts of India due to female foeticide/infanticide
Woman burnt alive due to dowry
Infant girl abandoned next to a dust bin
Educated professional women finding it difficult to find husbands
Sex crimes against women on the rise

All of us are familiar with the above headlines. They repeat with sickening regularity in the Indian press. I would not find it surprising if many people yawn at reading such news, that’s how common it has become. Indeed, it would not be wrong to point out that this has been increasing proportionally to the modernity that India is going through.

What has been the response to the problem? Platitudes like “We should respect women” and “Women are equal to men” and “The government should do something.” What does the government do? “We have banned sex-based testing.” “We have banned dowry” “We have opened ten more women’s welfare centers”. “We have opened a special women’s police cell to tackle sex crimes.”

What has been the effect of all the government programs, NGO’s, feminist agencies and others’ effort to alleviate the problem? It has kept growing worse. The more resources are poured, the more sickening news items appear in the papers.

This article seeks to explore if the root cause of all these symptoms is that ancient tradition of valuing the feminine component of a society is slowly wearing away.

In a documentary, an educated couple is asked what kind of future they would like their two daughters to have. Proudly they say: “Both our daughters are very intelligent. They have always scored well in math and science. They have hopes to go into finance and medicine. They both study very hard. They have little interest in jewelery or fashion. We won’t pressure them into marriage and children – we don’t want them to be tied down. They can do whatever they want. MBAs with finance and doctors make a lot of money. They can go wherever they want in the world. They can be who they want to be”

In the same documentary, another couple is asked why they aborted two female fetuses. They reply: “Having a daughter brings nothing but problems. They have to be protected more all their life. They have expensive habits. They want more clothes, jewelery. They need more attention. They are sensitive, moody and cry a lot for small things. They have more health issues upon puberty, causing more expenses. They are more self-centered and selfish, demand privacy and will not do much to help us in our old age. They get in trouble with boys who give them false hopes. They become fat and cry. They become thin and cry. They backbite each other. They get jealous when someone else has something they covet. Even in the workplace they are discriminated and don’t bring as much money as men. Marriage costs a lot of money, even if we don’t give dowry. And then they are back for child birth, causing more expenses. And if they have marital problems, we have to pitch in to save it. Boys, on the other hand, cause very few problems. They need little attention, stay the same all the time, listen to our threats and are more competitive throughout their life in school and workplace. They give back more money than we ever have to spend on them and can be controlled better. They are easier to love. If they have marital problems, we can just ask them to dump their wife.”

I understand that the reader wants some time to control his/her vomit. But I need to continue.

Some relatives of mine complained to me that their daughter-in-law has completely domesticated their son. Apparently their son helps out in the house by cutting vegetables for cooking, loading the laundry, bathing their child, sharing the cleaning and other household activities that are traditionally feminine. And that’s a big problem. Their darling masculine son has stooped low enough to start engaging in traditional feminine tasks. What a shame to their dynasty!!

All of the above have the same problem – they view feminine as something that’s beneath masculinity, and something to be discarded, even in girls. They view being masculine as superior in all respects, even for their girls. The first two also have the wrong notion of money.

To the first couple who want their offspring to be nothing more than money churning professionals, I would say: Well, if that’s what you want, wouldn’t it be better to just have boys? They would most likely bring more money and be more willing to share it with you.

To the both the first and second couple I would say: Indeed, if these are the values you cherish, wouldn’t it be better to do away with women altogether, and have only men in the world? Just men, working night and day to make money. Money that could be used for…oh I don’t know…nothing?!

Seems to be that underlying their contempt for the feminine is the wrong notion of money. Before proceeding further, I request the reader to read my article on Sulekha: The principle of money – to understand where I am coming from. Another column: Male-Female continuity would also be of related interest.

Besides the stark fact that the concept of money has no meaning in a world devoid of feminine qualities, it should be emphasized that life itself will come to an end if the natural balance of masculinity and feminity is disturbed.

For life to continue, people have to procreate and treat their progeny in a manner that the cycle will continue. This will need man and wife to work together in harmony. This will need both masculine and feminine qualities in equal proportions. It’s not only important to have masculine qualities like money making and saving skills, logic, hard work, discipline but also important to have feminine qualities like empathy, caring, nurturing, spontaneity, non-violence, money spending and other soft skills. The feminine qualities that the above couples bemoan (moodiness, clothes, jewelery, sensitivity, jealousy) are not weaknesses but strengths essential to forming of a woman. If people devalue these qualities, society will become narcissistic, violent, uncaring, rigid and blind pursuit of wealth will become the sole past time of younger people. It is interesting to observe that all these are on an uptrend in India presently. Eventually, bereft of feminine qualities, people will find that money will buy them less pleasure. They will spend increasing amounts of money on security to protect themselves against gangs of testosterone filled raping youth who have never felt the kind touch of a mother or the sweet charms of lovely woman.

But you ask, don’t you think women should study, work and be competitive? Education is good for the marriage market these days, you counter. Do you want women to be just housewives at the mercy of their husbands, you question.

All fair points, but off the mark. Education is important not just because it brings money through productive work but also because it tames the savage in man/woman. It exposes a person to possibilities that were never thought of. So yes, every woman needs education as much as a man. Women should also participate in the workplace to the extent that it does not affect their future as a mother and a wife. What’s been happening recently is that women work hard because they are more marketable in the marriage market. While it is true that professional work prepares them for marriage, it does nothing to prepare them for life after marriage. Increased divorces in India are a product of this. Women are finding that their professional qualifications hinder them from performing traditional womanly tasks, and they try to outsource cooking, cleaning, child-care to others, usually with disastrous long-term consequences.

Many women are increasingly suppressing the feminine in them to be complete professionals, only to realize in their mid-late 30’s that it is not bringing them happiness as was promised by the feminist brigade. Their feminine qualities resurge back with a vengeance and they hunt for a man, any man, tall or short, bald or grey, married or unmarried. But since they are set in their ways by then, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to settle for someone who is “inferior” to them in many ways.

Another point that is made often is that women nowadays want  independance and individuality, and that they should not be asked to give it up. I contest this theory and assert that the notion of wanting independance is very much a masculine trait that has been imbibed by women along with the other traits that we listed previously. I work in Wall Street where there are many women in senior positions. They got there by making enormous personal sacrifices: Limited dating, no marriage/children, not much of a personal life. Every now and then we get a corporate email which goes like "We regret to inform you that Christine/Melissa/Diane has decided to take an extended leave of absence to evaluate her personal life. She joined us right out of Havard and within fifteen years has been heading our North American Brokerage division. We are sorry to lose her and wish her the best". What that email really means is: She's in her late thirties and no man is willing  to look at her. She's lost all abilities to have a social life and is finding that million dollar bonuses are not really making her happy. She'll start a hunt for a man, any man, and settle for someone drastically lower than her.

It is a feminine trait to be dependant and to desire to be provided for. That's the way it's been since the dawn of civilisation. Dependence and Independance are the balance between the Yin and Yang. Women want to be swept off their feet and whisked away by someone they trust to have a good time. They want to have a shoulder to cry on. They want someone to provide for them. It's normal. What's been touted as "modern" is abnormal. That's why in the instance I gave above, women who have all the money, individuality and independance in the world crave to be dependant on a man. There's nothing inferior or wrong about this.

Meanwhile, housewife has become a four-letter word. No one in their senses wants their daughter to end up as one, even though their own mothers and grandmothers were perfectly happy being one. The very fact that they consider housewives to be at the mercy of the husbands goes to show that they consider masculinity to be superior to feminine. Once that notion is removed, questions of mercy do not arise.

This article is about feminine and masculine traits – not about men and women. It's good for men to have some feminine traits and women to have some masculine traits. It's when the balance is tipped that life gets messy.

There is a bubble in masculinity in India. Like all bubbles, this too will find its pin. Meanwhile there will be a whole lot of collateral damage: Divorces, Affairs, Crimes of passion, female infanticide, female foeticide, rapes, dowry deaths etc etc. These will hasten the return to balance.

Once society starts valuing the feminine, female foeticide, dowry, sex-crimes will come down gradually and eventually die out. This can be accomplished with minimal government/NGO intervention, police support or patronizing foreign agencies. Temples, community leaders, panchayat heads and other social organizations can spread the message that without the feminine, being masculine is useless. Respect for women will follow, and things will slowly but sure be back to normal. The sex-ratio will correct itself without passing any bills in the parliament.

Women need not be like men to be treated as equals. They should be free to be themselves, as natural as possible. The sacred Feminine should reassert its proper place along with the sacred Masculine.

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