I believed that until I saw Sweeney Todd (the movie).
Absolutely bloody fucking brilliant.
From the writing to the music to Tim Burton's realization of the play- incredible.
And the fact that Helena was in it didn't hurt.
That got me thinking. Would the Indian ideal of a woman do the same? Would she lie and connive to keep the man she loved? Would she sleep with him all the time knowing he didn't love her? Would she aid him in murder? Would she love his child from another wife?
You know what- maybe she would.
For as the demon barber of Fleet Street sings-
At their mirrors-
How they make a man sing!
Proof of heaven, as you're living...
Someone tell me, WHERE ARE THESE WOMEN? We need them.
And the terrible part is, that we might have had them if we were born long long ago.
Take Draupadi- an enigma in the Mahabharata. Now of course, any mention of polyandry and you'll have the purists touching their ears and warding you away, lest your sussurations pollute their homes. Now she was, to my mind the first feminist. A woman of blazing beauty, (by all accounts) what continues to fascinate is the way she used her loins- for both good and ill. Oh yes, who are we kidding? Why did she go to the fateful game of dice in a 'single garment stained with blood'? She should have taken some Meftal Spaz and stayed at home. I propose that she had an inkling that her state would come in handy if the need arose. It did. And ultimately, the whole bloody (pun intended) war was fought because of one woman. And she knew it- perhaps even planned it. Ruthlessly planned it for power- under the garb of restoring her honour. It took 13 years, hundreds of deaths and the loss of her own sons, but she got there in the end.
And lets not even start about her relationship with Krishna- which, deny all you like, has always been more than a little ambiguous. That she worshipped him from afar seems obvious, but there is a fine line between worship and love (maybe even lust).
Yet, inspite of having five husbands and still trusting someone else more than any of them, Draupadi has always been considered a virtuous woman. Never as a politically savvy schemer. I'd even call her reformist.
And what makes it even more interesting is, that even if you look at the Mahabharata (as I do) as a great fictional epic and not gospel truth, the fact that a writer in those times- a man in all probability- could concieve of such a character and not turn her into a whore is really far sighted. That free thinking was so prevalent in ancient India makes one boil with wrath at the current state of affairs.
From those lofty times, are today's women worse off? It's hard to tell. Yes, inspite of those crazy fire spitting feminists (Good day Ms Roy) who quite frankly I think need a good romp in the sack with anybody, inspite of some men with inflated egos who, when their fiancee breaks it off say, 'You should marry me because I'm good at studies and you're an average student..'
Yet for all these people, there is a Sonia Gandhi- who, whether you agree with her politics or not, is an interesting case study. An Italian woman, meets the heir to the throne (rolls eyes in disgust), marries him and soon after his death becomes the most powerful politician in the world's biggest democracy. That's a real story. Or a certain Ms. Mayawati who uses all her evil genius and rules with impunity. Or even Sushmita Sen, who gets around and doesn't care what anybody thinks.
The position Indian women are in today- is strangely dichotomous. One the one hand you have some who can head a Biocon, and on the other you have those who equate a date with marriage instantly. The only reason we ask them out has got to be marriage. If you say you just want to get to know them better they reply, why not as friends?
It's this disparity between professional and social freedom that baffles.
And this is probably because the idea of marriage has been drilled into everyone's heads as the sole reason a girl exists. Even among educated society. Wanna date me? Marry me first.
The evolution of the Indian woman has been a little strange- from an emancipated personal life in ancient times, to wonderful professional opportunities nowadays. Long ago she could still sleep with the Sun God no less, have a child, remain a virgin, ditch the child, have no regrets or guilt, and then years later, blithely ask the same child not to kill her 'real' sons with absolutely no qualms whatsoever. She didn't get to rule, but she was the power behind the throne. Paradoxically, in modern times, our women are given a lot of freedom to pursue careers (more or less). But personal morality is of paramount importance. She has to be 'pure'. She shouldn't wear short skirts even to play tennis. She shouldn't hang out in pubs. She should be 'perfect' and should be married by 25, otherwise she's deemed 'too old'. It's different for us menfolk, we can fuck who we want and get away with it but somehow an Indian woman's virginity is of paramount importance. As to why, that's beyond me. Is it objectification of women? Maybe. I mean YES! It's just crass and low.
That being said, I think I'm gonna dump my girl tonight- her forehead's too wide, one nostril is wider than the other and I didn't like the location of her tattoo.