Who is a Man then?

Written By

Chitra Doraiswami

Whats your super power Loading

Man, stud, macho male – all these words are bandied about, but really who is a true man? Can’t be those muscle bound chaps whose biceps probably extend up to their forehead (!). Personified by Arnold Schwarzenegger (did I spell his name right? He seems to have all the consonants in the alphabet in his name) and other ‘action heroes’. If being large and aggressive is everything, then our gyms and our akhadas are full of true blue men. Might is right is utterly wrong and we all know it. The only exception I know of is Dara Singh, yesteryears boxer/wrestler and B-grade movie star. He sent his own money to each and every gallantry award winner from the 1965 Ops from the Defense Forces as a rare gesture of thanks. Now that’s a man!

True. Men should be ready to defend the weak and the helpless or what are you so ‘healthy’ for? I think that is why most people view guys from the military as manly men.

Does being brave and ready to risk your all make you a man? Only if the cause is worthy. Otherwise all our reckless teens and twenty somethings who ride three to a mo’bike with no helmets on their hairy heads and try wheelies on crowded roads should be heroes.

It is a big no-no to guys who hunt animals, bull fighters, poachers and others of this clan who torture dogs, cats or any helpless creatures. How did hunting animals become a ‘manly’ sport? Those poor creatures are busy minding their business and finding it tough enough to get their victuals without the added bother of watching out for guys with high powered rifles all set to drop them down and stand with one foot on them, in unsuitable shorts, jackets and solar topees, that I’m not sure they are even human forget being Men with a capital ‘M’.

Intelligent people are Men. Especially those who use their brains to improve the lot of mankind. I can’t tell you what kind of a home life Sir Isaac Newton had or what Mrs. Franklin thought about Benjamin, but it is rare for a thinker to be a boor as well. Absorbed in work and undependable, yes. Nasty? No. They may not ‘bring home the bacon’ (or the bread and butter for that matter from the market) but they won’t fight with the woman if the ‘sambar’ had a tad more salt than necessary.

Writers and poets are normally Men – Romantic Men. Remember Robert Browning who wooed a sickly Elizabeth Barrett, defied her tyrannical Dad and carried her away to Italy (at least, eventually)?

I’m not sure all women would like to live on top of a pedestal. God knows I have my faults (none that I will own up to in a public space such as this). But I would rather be a partner than a Goddess.

I hear you saying, ‘ Get on with it, who IS a man? Spill the beans, sister’.

He must be a responsible person. Any man who gets a woman pregnant and scoots off like a jackrabbit is no man. He who strives to look after his family the best way he can is one. He will love kids, care for his elders and support his woman. He will be courageous enough to stand up and be counted (like Gandhiji) will not dislike his boss just because she is a woman. He never talks about a ‘woman’s place’ and is ready to change nappies when required. He respects his female colleagues, loves his mom, cares deeply for his sisters and is proud of his wife’s achievements.

To misquote:

If such there breathe, go mark him well

For him all minstrels’ raptures swell,

High his title, proud his name, boundless his honour as wish can claim…

Not that many going around, no? Is it about time to start a petition “Save the man”?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chitra Doraiswami, 69, is from Bangalore. She has written for many publications such as the Deccan Herald, The Times, Femina, Eve’s Weekly, etc. Chitra has many an interesting tale to tell including the one about finishing her Masters along with her son; sadly “only” getting a First Class, where her son got a rank. She joined CMR, NPS as Headmistress two decades ago and is now known as the Associate Principal of the institution. She also has a sixteen year old grandson. Chitra is an avid dancer, reader and drama-enthusiast. She's traveled extensively with her husband who was in the IAF. She taught wherever they were posted. Chitra enjoys teaching people innovative ways of helping children learn, but she is definitely not the prototypical fluffy grandma!

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