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Chivalry
by Priya Subramanyan Bookmark and Share
 

Today's headline'  Chivalry wanted.
Dead or Alive. Handsome Reward Offered.

A favourite fantasy'that Chivalry could be captured and let loose in the world. I think he will be caught dead. What do you think?

6:00 p.m. News' The headlines today 

Chivalry Has Been Captured!! 

After a long and thrilling chase, in which the INTERPOL was involved, across continents and seas, Chivalry was captured. The Chief Of Police, Commissioner Subramanyan, looking tired but triumphant, had this to say,' Yes. The boys and I are thrilled. It was a difficult job, and I give them full credit for doing it well. The persistence and courage shown in nabbing a very elusive and crafty person -- There were times when we thought that we had lost him, or that he had killed himself. But we could coax him to give up his weapons and come out of hiding.'

He is still in a critical state though; the paramedics tried to revive him first by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. And he is now being flown by helicopter to the intensive care unit, at the local hospital.    

Newsflash. 7:30 p.m.

The doctors haven't been able to detect a heartbeat for the last fifteen minutes. They are still in the operating theatre. Clinically, Chivalry is dead. The doctors haven't lost hope though, and they are continuing with their efforts to revive him.

Let's talk to our correspondent for women's issues, Ms. Bachao'

'Ms.Bachao, tell us why you think it is so important to keep Chivalry alive. Haven't women moved away from such archaic and tokenistic gestures of respect? Isn't it a step back in time? Standing when a lady enters a room, opening a door for her, offering a seat in the bus or train'?'

As students travelling by bus in Mumbai, we didn't care for anyone offering us a seat.. We were young and ready to take on the world. And we couldn't do it seated. It made more sense to huddle near the door and continue with our yarn. People were only too glad to keep away from these loud-mouthed, fast-talking creatures. So, they would sit tight, and hold on tight to their seats. Suited us fine. We didn't want Chivalry.

But the scene at the Mumbai-local-trains was different--there was no question of girls getting into the 'general compartment' with the men. Do you think Chivalry could be found there? We would have been quite content with finding Civility--no Comments, Innuendos, Groping Hands and Bottom Pinching!

If things were so bad for women, couldn't something else be done, instead of calls for reviving Chivalry?

'Yes, unfortunately I must inform our viewers that Chivalry is dead. But HE must be revived. And no, I don't think it is Archaic' I go by my experience and many others' when making these assertions.

As students traveling by bus in Mumbai, we didn't care for anyone offering us a seat.. We were young and ready to take on the world. And we couldn't do it seated. It made more sense to huddle near the door and continue with our yarn. People were only too glad to keep away from these loud-mouthed, fast-talking creatures. So, they would sit tight, and hold on tight to their seats. Suited us fine. We didn't want Chivalry.

But the scene at the Mumbai-local-trains was different--there was no question of girls getting into the 'general compartment' with the men. Do you think Chivalry could be found there? We would have been quite content with finding Civility--no Comments, Innuendos, Groping Hands and Bottom Pinching!

If things were so bad for women, couldn't something else be done, instead of calls for reviving Chivalry?

For once though the authorities were clued on and provided the women with a 'ladies' compartment' or 'ladies' dabba'. It seemed like an oasis. Far from the Deprived and Repressed masses of men, who would quite willingly make an Anonymous Meal of any available woman. 

While this was an immediate response, for the long-term, we could do well with a revival. 

That was about students, Ms.Bachao. What about real women?

The 'ladies' in the trains were a boon to everyone. Girls as well as, women.

But a real change in my thinking came after I got married. I could still take on the world. But I needed help.  After a full shift in the morning at home in a joint family, I would have been glad if Someone had offered me a seat in the bus, to rest my tired legs and catch my breath before I got to office. But no such luck. The attitude instead of Anyone among the men was, 'If I couldn't cut it, I should be staying at home.' This had nothing to do with professional competence. Just Boorishness.

So, Ms.Bachao, are you suggesting that women require a little Cosseting after marriage and hence this call for Chivalry? 

Not Cosseting, but Support. I'm not at the end of tale yet, because I also got Pregnant. I had a difficult time with both my pregnancies'Oedema, Diabetes, and Hypertension. The trip back home in the evening by bus used to be a nightmare, especially in the monsoons. The potholed roads; the overhanging pollution, because the cloud-cover wouldn't let the gases escape; and my own Condition. There I would be hanging from a strap in a wildly lurching bus and do you think Anyone cared? No Chivalry, no Sensitivity, no Humaneness. Not one of them around... Who I had to contend with in the bus was, Sullenness, Insensitivity, Retribution. The common thought, "Serves you right--You've taken a job which, had it gone to a Man, would've fed a family. You're doing it for luxury, now take it!" From the seventh month onwards, I started taking a cab to work and back. How many women in India can afford that?

Can you extrapolate your experiences, to lead the call for a revival in Chivalry?

I believe my lot was not as bad as for the majority of women in that country. So I do not hesitate in leading the call.

That's about Mumbai, Ms.Bachao. Can you give us a global perspective?

Yes. Coming to Sydney, I was surprised when the main newspaper had a Similar Discussion. A pregnant lady wrote in to say that she never gets offered a seat on the train in the morning peak-hour. Justification was there. The men felt the women's movement had gone very far in delivering them Rights. They saw themselves as the new Underclass. Outdone by women everywhere! 

Are the men truly justified in thinking that way?

No. A recent study said that, women, despite equal opportunities women are working on an average at least 50% more than men every week. The work at home is still largely along Traditional Lines, where the bulk of the    laundry, cooking and homework of the kids is overseen by women. Men give a hand, but they don't see these tasks as their Primary Responsibility.

So yes. Women are run off their feet and are highly stressed. Chivalry would help.

Is there a precedent anywhere in the world, which could force men towards equality, Ms.Bachao?   

There have been reports from Germany, that failure by men to share equally in the housework is a legal offence. There was recently a story, where a girlfriend filed a police complaint against her boyfriend, for consistently not doing the dishes. He was served a warning by the police. Of course, just as in everything else, there was a body of opinion that found this law too intrusive.

Is it a step in the right direction?

I for one think at least now there is an alternate course to nagging. Which woman wants to be labeled a shrew?!

Education of men will also go a long way. Training in Sensitivity and Homemaking skills.

Is it a step back in time Ms.Bachao? 

No, I don't think so. Women have never claimed superiority in physical strength' They demanded equal opportunities and have proved their capability. They just didn't expect or want a concurrent De-humanizing of men.

So, what do they want?

They want SNAGS'Sensitive New Age Gentlemen!'

Where is Chivalry in that Ms.Bachao?

Chivalry, along with a host of other qualities, is part of Sensitivity. To reduce a woman's hindrances, and help her make a meaningful contribution to society.

'Thank you Ms.Bachao. That was enlightening.

To move towards a society that values every individual and the contribution each has to make, valuing strengths and making up for weaknesses, will, we're sure, go a long way.

Thank you for joining us on this special news bulletin. Have a good evening and stay with us for our next program, TODAY TONIGHT' 

5-Apr-2001
More by :  Priya Subramanyan
 
Views: 1175
 
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