My Struggle To Understand Gender Stereotypes

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Giribala Joshi on December 31, 2008
Generally for women, even though it is not always necessary, it is perfectly fine to do all sorts of manly things except the ones that are related exclusively to the male anatomy. On the other hand, when men do womanly things, the results range from downright absurd to highly aesthetic. For example, when men wear a sari, or put on a mangal sutra, lipstick, or a bindi, they look funny, but when they indulge in any creative work like cooking or cleaning the kitchen, they look extremely sexy and handsome.

When this topic was started by Indian Home Maker, I could not think of a single manly thing that I had ever done. In my opinion, whatever I did was womanly because I was a woman. To write this post, I sought help from one of my close friends. I narrated scores of anecdotes to her, from which she selected the following ones as the most macho.

1. As a toddler, I used to play with lion cubs. My favorite nursery rhyme was, “Hum Bharat ke Bharat khelte sheron ki santan se. Koi desh nahin duniya mein badhkar Hindustan se.” We the Bharats of Bharat play fearlessly with lion cubs. There is no nation in the world greater than our Hindutsan.

2. When the sun went behind the hillock, when the birds returned to the jamun tree in our backyard, when everyone settled down to watch TV serials, I would venture out to deflate the tires of bicycles in my neighborhood and would practice my aim at street lights.

3. It was also the time to honor some deserving members of our community by highlighting their accomplishments via graffiti on the wall that bordered our colony.

4. We looked forward to the festival of Holi with great excitement not for the colors, but for the Holi bonfire. Many a night, we went around collecting combustible material from proud owners in the rival neighborhoods without their knowledge. One time, a gentleman cornered me and inquired about my motive for being in his front yard. At first, I started crying loudly, but he did not let me go and adamantly demanded to know my father’s name. I had to give him someone else’s father’s name for my freedom.

5. A few stray donkeys used to meander into our high school compound. That gave us occasional opportunities for free rides. Once a hyperactive donkey tossed me 4-5 feet up in the air. That was my first experience with weightlessness.

6. I devised secret rules and codes for our gang. We had difficult induction criteria and held elaborate initiation ceremonies. That is all I can share with you right now because my vow of secrecy forbids me to disclose any more.

7. While studying in a girls’ only college and living in a hostel, we did have our share of fun. But if you hear some fancy escapade attributed to me, please do not readily believe everything. They continued inventing such stories long after I had graduated.

8. I am an adult. Most of the times, I watch and read age appropriate content.

9. There was a time when I often embarrassed my male colleagues by telling dirty jokes. I stopped only when someone warned me that I could be sued for sexual harassment.

10. When I told my friend—the one who was helping me with this list—that most of the above stories were not entirely true, she started to doubt my femininity. According to her, lying and cheating were the ultimate male bastions. Poor gal, she must have had some really bad experiences with men to make such unwarranted allegations.


  1. Nice photo Giri! No. 9 is really :-) and No. 5 is the funniest. I have a friend whose mom rings her every time we go on a trip and warns her not to ride a horse. While a kid, she told me, she fell several times trying to run after ponies. Clap! Clap!

  2. That sexual harassment bit had me in splits. I'm glad you did the tag. So have I :)
    Will be a regular on your blog now.

  3. #7 is hilarious yet so true...when men tell stories to their wives about their bravado, they do not forget to include the goof-ups of their fellow men, and also dissociate themselves from the goof ups...One wonders how did they know such intricate details without being there ...hehehe

  4. Finally you did the tag :) #2 is the funniest. #6 reminded me of Fight Club :) Lying and cheating male bastion? This is a slander against menfolk :)

  5. You look great!!!!

    And 4th is absolutely smart - proud of you. I know you shouldn't have been there in the first place, but still it was very creative and original!!

    6.We have something in common here - till my class VII, my two siblings and I shared a room, and we had a Constitution of Children's Room (CRC) signed by the three occupants.

  6. ha ha ha..funny :) and #7 is hilarious :) :)

  7. Debby, Samadrita, Sangeeta, Ajay, IHM, Anju, Bhavia, I am enjoying your comments as much as you enjoyed the post. My favorite is #1. I miss those furry creatures :-)

  8. @Giribala

    Miss lion cubs? YOU DO NOT. You never played with those. What lies.


  9. #4 is hilarious:) I wonder what would have happened to the innocent poor kid after being reprimanded by his father :)

    PS Nice picture!

  10. Really nice...especially coz some are lies!...loved the 9 and 10 the best!

  11. @Anon: Even I didn't believe it, but my mom showed me pictures.

    @Abhi: I also wondered why I didn't see that kid on our subsequent adventure trips!

    @Nalini: Welcome! Thanks for your visit. You'll sure love reading the other posts too because all of them are full of lies.

  12. hey , nice blog , like it ,
    won't be nice if i u can clickover to my blog page too ,
    & post some suggestion

  13. u have a terrific sense of humour and my fav is no. 10. It's the near perfect ending...U r my fav after Agatha Christie..She rules but u r not bad..

  14. @Monisha: Thanks!
    @Recusant: Thanks for the kind words! Great morale booster. Honored!

  15. Hi,

    “Hum Bharat ke Bharat khelte sheron ki santan se. Koi desh nahin duniya mein badhkar Hindustan se.”

    this is also my favorite nursery rhyme. but i forgot so pls can you mail me full rhyme.

    my email id:


  16. Would u please post hum bharat k bharat khelte sheron ki santaan se poem....
    bcoz it's one of my favorite ..

    1. Hi Sara, I am sorry I don't remember the poem and couldn't find it on net....


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