The recent Tamil movie “Tharamani” is commended for a very honest take on contemporary gender relations. The Director has made an exceedingly good opening to this entire subject. Time and again, many many times in life, more as I grow, I have pondered on this- the power play between a man and a woman. I prided myself on not being shackled under the popular norms and ideas of being a woman. I was a non-conformist. My partner exuded liberalism so much that I forgot the fact that he was a man and that one person and some years of reading and thinking can’t undo or overcome the bindings of a million years of society.
“Tharamani” is a laudable effort against the objectification of women. It is more against men who possess women violently than about women who exist for themselves. But I wish to go one step further. All the women in the movie are made to live for the men in their life in some way or the other. But my question is why should a woman have to be a Mother Teresa giving her all for a man? Why can a woman not truly love a man while giving expression to the many other facets of herself? Why does love have to become single minded devotion?
Every friend, every person we meet and bond with gives life to one particular aspect of oneself. It’s unique to the two people. What one friend is, another can’t be. What first love was, none other can be. Every relationship has a unique irreplicable signature. When we say we miss people, we are actually missing that part of ourselves which that person evokes. Likewise, there are many bits and chunks of our self that we entrust to the people we love. Why can’t a woman not talk to a man who is not just a friend and absolutely not a brother but not a spouse/ sex partner either? Why is anything not tagged condemned, vehemently?
Trust is fundamental to any relationship and particularly so in love or marriage. But trust of what? What do we understand from the many many pronouns we use in such discussions? Once you no more genuinely love a person and fool around for any type of benefit, that’s cheating. When you say “I love you” and don’t mean it, that’s cheating. How’s it cheating when you haven’t said “I love you only” and happen to entertain romantic notions of another person? Unlike men, women are not driven by sex. Women look for many different joys, most of them small in measure. Even harmless coquetry could be extremely gratifying while functional sex could leave one bored. A conversation, a call, a glance, a smile, a message, a word, a gesture, anything could be magical. Pleasure is of the body while joy is of the mind. That twinkle to the eye is such a harmless little joy and an army is out there to deny you that. All because you are a woman and it’s everybody’s business to keep you on one track lest you go astray.
One is a liberal as long as a bird is caged or refuses to take wing. You can safely tell a bird that doesn’t fly to have all the freedom and space it wants.
A woman is property that has to be constantly guarded. Woman exists for the sexual gratification of men, be it in any form. She dresses so that she can have men gaping, she talks to men so that she can entice them, her parading about is an open invitation for male company. Thereby she is constantly made to feel ashamed of herself, the colour of her skin, the curve of her body, the lush of her hair, the titillation of her laugh, the contagion of her smile- everything should be burqa-ed. She should preserve her femininity for one man only and with all others she must put on the gauntlet of a fighter- stiff and severe. A man reprimanding you for other men staring is the same man who could one day throw acid on your face so that you will no more be looked at.
A river will but flow, tree will but sway, rain will but splash, and all these things of beauty need a woman to complete the picture. That’s why Nature is a She. A woman is but a woman, beautiful and enticing, not by choice but by make. A thing of beauty is a joy forever, to others! To oneself, it’s a condemnation or that’s what it is made to be!
PS: I hope this applies only to the conservative hegemonic societies which are but few in the world.