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The ‘Know It All’ Vs. The ‘Mentally Virgin’

Posted: December 17, 2013

Over the years, virginity for girls has been a much talked about phenomenon. The whole world discusses how a woman is impure just because a tissue is broken before marriage, and it seems to be a “you are tarnished for life” stamp put upon women. And while the whole feminist brigade and the cultural/religious self-proclaimed social gurus debate the sanctity of women and their conduct viz-a-viz the absence of a hymen in the body, I here am going to discuss a very different kind of virginity debate that is doing the rounds around the educated men I come across (educated, not civilized and human if I may say so).

There was a joke in our college days regarding the debate around virginity. We used to call it the “Issue about a tissue”. Being in an all-women college made me somewhat of an extrovert, when it came to discussing these issues around men. On the one hand, while female friends who used to study with boys thought it was weird that I was openly discussing virginity & menstruation, condoms and contraceptives, to me, it was more to do with opening a social dialogue than the fact that I was in an all-women college.

Know it all womenAnd so, this brings us to the classic point of “the woman who knows it all”.  The woman who knows how to drive her own car, pay her own bills, pick up her own gadgets, buy her own stocks, change the tire of her car, manage her money on her own and on top of it, knows what she talks, means business! The woman who is mostly tagged as a ‘Feminist’ or let’s say, “a little more masculine (haha!)”  just because she doesn’t need a man to do these tasks for her. What is her fault? Just this much: that she likes to do it for herself what the world expects her man to do. She voices her choices and opinions and stands by what she finds is right even if that means disobeying the man of her life.

The woman who knows the political scenario of India, as much as she knows how to book a ticket to fly down the next day. The woman who can buy her own bread and also who doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She is sensitive but she likes her life her way. Oh, of course, she takes your opinion and will follow it too, only if she thinks its right for her. In short, she is the one who wears the pants (in real), respects you for wearing yours but doesn’t mind doing things that are considered to be only a man’s domain. We all know women like these around. And we all know what the world brands them as.

On the other side of the continuum exist those kind of women who are, let’s summarize it here (before someone stabs me with a knife for stereotyping), ‘the mentally virgin”. Our television and film industry have survived because of these women (characters). Let us consider something shown in the movie Vivaah (in the form of the character Amrita Rao plays). While our movies and tele-serials love such proper, homely characters, our men out there today want such characters in real life too. You don’t agree? You might agree to the next statement.

“Have a girlfriend who knows it all but marry a girl who is (mentally) a virgin.” This is what my friends tell me in twisted words. They look at this strong female and would love to date her but when it comes to taking a girl home, she has to be the one who would adjust well in their households, fulfilling the characters that tele-serials have fixed in the minds of their mothers, families, or more so, them too. A friend of mine (right now working as a top official) once pointed out how it was important for him to marry someone who would shift bases with him, who would, when time comes, sacrifice her career and sit down to manage the family and look after his kids, who has more a ‘school teacher’ (this was the real dialogue and so I am not demeaning here but that’s the mindset) kind of job.

Lets look at the movie Cocktail starring Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan along with Diana Penty. Very strongly, though Saif’s Character loves Deepika’s outgoing, outspoken, over the top, know it all character, he truly, deeply falls for and wants to marry the salwar kameez wearing Diana’s character. Even an Indian living abroad craves for a Sati-Savitri desi woman. There might be a lot of interpretations that people might have of the film, but to me the moment Deepika tries to copy Diana’s character’s feminine (as they term) habits just to fit into the shoes was a low point where the movie just fell in my mind as yet another sad story. And this is reality.

Ask any educated young guy. And he will gladly agree that while he would enjoy dating a girl who is outgoing, he is scared to marry one, because “God knows what all she knows!” or “She has an opinion about everything!” Hypocrisy in its classical ways?

The debate here isn’t if she will fit in any so-called frame or not. I mean we all have seen women who know it all yet balance their homes well and also seen examples of the mentally virgins creating an imbalanced family life. But the debate is, how can a woman’s love for let’s say, Indian politics, come in the way of her becoming a good wife? How is it that if a woman talks about contraception, men look at her as if she is a slut? (no really, that’s the word they use). How is it that on one hand you will happily date such a woman but when it comes to marriage, you crave a mentally untouched unaware person whom you can twist and turn, mould in your own way?

I am nowhere preaching anything being wrong or right. But I truly fail to understand any logic here when I meet men who tell me these things. And I happily accept and love those women who choose not to marry over marrying somebody who doesn’t value them for what they are. What is the reason for more and more women choosing not to marry at all? After all, marriage is all about respecting each other the way they are. And if that is not gained, it makes it just a question of social sanctity. A license to do things, which only married people are allowed to do in the country. There is a larger debate associated: the cycle of women being tagged and dragged into socially acceptable and unacceptable roles is very much defined by such things.

It is at the end of the day a man’s own choice: Mentally virgin or “The one who knows it all”. Let him decide that. But, while I decide what I would respect more in a man, I would any day value a guy who sticks with one choice rather than having his feet in both the boats!

Pic credit: Navy Blue Stripes (Used under a Creative Commons license)

A Development Communication & Social Work professional working in the field of gender, health and

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  1. Wow, Suchi! Really powerful words!

    All your examples are the reality today…have seen so many men date their colleagues and finally marry a “simple girl” their parents choose..

    • Thanks Sri. Exactly the kind of thing I saw amongst friends that prompted me to pen down my thoughts. It’s not something I appreciate but then thee are choices people make.

  2. Correct me if I am wrong…Isn’t it better to be single and happy to be doing your own thing, than be married to a chauvinist and miserable?

  3. Men are intimidated by a confident women ,its not what is doing but what she potentially can do !

  4. very true 🙂

  5. There are actually guys like this? I’ve personally never met one who says it in these words, but I don’t have difficulty imagining it given some of the comments I see on various sites like the TOI and even my own blog.

    Screw em!

    • Bhagwad! Love the last two words:P
      Yes, this article is inspired from real life characters and nothing (absolutely nothing) is fictional 🙂

  6. IMHO, there are still many guys out there who love to marry the “Girl that knows all”. At least I want my future wife to be the “Girl that knows all”. I am really scared of the “Mentally Virgin” girls with low IQ and EQ.

  7. I agree. Have faced this personally and have seen these conversations happening too. So can totally identify with every situation you describe. While we women have developed mentally, men are still stuck in the stone age!

  8. Hey Suchi, what I am little concerned is, if I reverse the situation… like Men who “knows it all” Vs “Mentally Virgin”.. Would any girl want to marry a guy who just lives his own life and to an extent is selfish or self centered the way we describe Women who knows it all. My answer would be NO… And marriage is sumthing like a chemical bond, where both have to share their nucleus. Twist and turn a women your own way is right but same stands true for man also, no girl will like to be with one who cant be moulded. and trust me I have seen cases for both men/women who think they are super smart and independent, after a certain age they go mad for a partner. We really have to change our choices I guess.. what you think?

    • Dear Nidhi
      Exactly the point I mentioned here. A woman who knows it all isn’t self centered. Thats how the world describes her. Nor is she selfish. Having choices doesn’t mean not valuing others choice. I have seen the reverse trend as well. Same goes for males. Same goes for females who r mentally virgins. Being selfish, stubborn and self centered has nothing to do with these. These are the kind of images we carry with such people. Do you think all mentally virgins are adjusting? No. Majority of working women manage homes pretty well. They do whatever they want. But the point that I tried to bring out is when it comes to marriage and dating, men define women. I hope that answered your query cz for me, a woman who knows it all might be the best wife a man can have. The point to be taken in account is how women are imaged cz f their choices.

    • Also, there is another side of story here which is imp and most of the times unspoken: Expectations for partners. What women expect from their husbands.. Income, status, strong, confident.. we too categorize men. But a boyfriend n husband categorization? no, i don’t think so. much complicated than it sounds

  9. I think it is not only the man’s fault, but it is his mom’s fault too ( A woman!!!!) . She teaches her son about woman and puts ideas into his brain about the kind of girl that would make him happy and would keep his family intact! They want their daughter to be independent but do not want an independent daughter-in-law!!

    • Anita! I totally agree with your point of view. But when educated males say that to me, i don’t get the logic. Rationality is imp. I know mothers plant ideas in their children heads.

  10. I don’t think men have a problem with their wife being a “do it all myself” character. In fact they want them to be so. The men are toooooo busy discussing about world politics and how they would rule the world etc. They don’t have time for small things like a car tire change or something that simple.
    What they don’t want is the wife broadcasting that she knows it all and airing her views. They still want her to be docile even after being a know it all.

  11. Hi Suchi , 100% I agree with you. I know about my brothers. Majority of the guys fall under the category where they do whatever they want before marriage and expecting a mentally virgin girl when comes to marriage . I don’t understand what is the logic behind . My brothers out there, You really need to grow up in the way you see women . This would happen only if he cultivates the broadmindedness to respect women and the qualities in her rather than just seeing her as flesh .

    I have a question: Is there anything wrong if a guy expect a mentally virgin who is also a mentally virgin 🙂

    Awesome article , Keep writing…Let my brothers change their way they see women..

    • Hey! There is nothing wrong with a guy expecting a mentally virgin. There is nothing wrong in choices. What i fail to understand is the hypocrisy with dating & marriage. Nobody is perfect. But double standards viz-a-viz marriage is something that amuses me!

  12. Amazing write Suchi 🙂

  13. Very well put. BTW just to add: notice how Bollywood heroines are all bold and expose when their character plays the girlfriend role. However the moment the hero takes them home as the future bahu of the family there transformed into sar pe pallu types. Ditto with the hero’s sister.

    By @Parikshit81

  14. I believe it takes a strong man to handle a strong woman…it has nothing to do with education and everything to do with character n upbringing. A mother does teach her son those values n how to respect a women but so does a father by his action.

  15. Very well written Suchi…I truely believe that this is all about mindset and upbringing nothing to do with education. I saw lots of educated ppl out there with such weird concept of mentally virgin or to be docile( even if they know).

  16. Loved this piece of yours!! Kudos Shuchi!!!!

  17. N here i am dying for a girl who no more believes in “mere sapno ka Rajkumar ” ,having a damm f***kin opinion ,to whom i dont have tell how things goes around,,ho knows how to live like crazy!!!

  18. Bhavya Bhalla has a point. A guy’s ideas of marriage are formed by his parents’ marriage. If his father was the type that was domineering and discouraged his mother from speaking up, having political opinions or voicing her choices… the son is likely to be the kind who wants the ‘mentally virgin’ wife. Basically, he wants the same power structure in his own marriage. The man as the boss.
    What role his father played in his upbringing is as impt as the role his mother did.

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