Since Draupadi, Men Through History Have Put Women On Sale… Which Continues Even Today!

"To create loving men, we must love males…" - bell hooks. Nope. If men want a better world, they need to do better for themselves and each other and their sons and the world at large. It is not the responsibility of women.

“To create loving men, we must love males…” – bell hooks. Nope. If men want a better world, they need to do better for themselves and each other and their sons and the world at large. It is not the responsibility of women.

In her past life, Draupadi used to be the daughter of a rishi. She was very sure that the man worthy of her hadn’t yet been created. So she sat in penance to invoke Shiva. Pleased with her austerities Shiva appeared and offered her a boon of her choice.

Blushingly, Draupadi asked for a husband who was righteous, strong, sexy, knowledgeable and loving. Shiva’s face fell. “Ah daughter”, he replied, “Couldn’t you have asked for immortality? Or all the wealth of the world? Couldn’t you have just asked to cure all disease or rid the world of all evil or some such banal thing? Why would you ask for the impossible”, he sighed.

“There cannot be one man infused with all these qualities. The…um…software just doesn’t allow for it. And now, because I cannot disappoint anyone who comes to my doorstep, I’ll have to create 5 such men and you’ll have to wait till your next birth to marry all five, for your boon to come true..ish. Sorry, daughter. This is the best I can do”, said Shiva and disappeared.

So in her next life as the daughter of King Drupad, the fireborn Draupadi, the knowledgeable, articulate, powerful, rich, most beautiful woman of all time was married off to 5 men, one who was righteous, one who was strong, one who was valiant, one who was knowledgeable and one who was loving. These were considered the greatest men of their generation. 

And at a time of her greatest distress, none of these these men came to her aid and she had to use her connection with yet another man to be saved from sexual assault.

So even mythology makes excuses for men and supports their mediocrity. 

‘To create loving men, we must love males’… I disagree!

I have been seeing this bell hooks quote being posted all over social media. Perhaps it’s pulled out of context, perhaps it means something entirely different in its totality, bell hooks afterall was a path breaking feminist. But in isolation this quote sets my teeth on edge.

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I agree in part that cis men are valued for what they do, their monetary success at it, power, big house, bigger car etc. But who created this system and who reaps the benefits? And who said that men aren’t treated like raja betas for just existing? Every mediocre, underachieving man has a family spinning urban legends of him being a messiah and usually at the cost of his overachieving female siblings.

Aren’t men deeply cherished systemically too? Vishal Jha, the engineering student and alleged mastermind who has been detained in the Bulli Bai case, has the complete backing and support of his college, the authorities claim that he’s young, with a promising future and they will not suspend him; an IIT student raped his peer and the judge gave him bail because, again, his bright future. Tarun Tejpal is acquitted because as male, his word has greater weightage than the woman who came forward to accuse him of rape.

Entitled raja betas like this one are everywhere

I just saw a video of a 12 year old 8th standard girl on her way to school being sexually assaulted in broad daylight in Bihar and when she resisted, the perpetrator stabbed her, over and over.

What do you think will happen to him- a slap on the wrist, perhaps a tiny prison sentence some 20 years of a trial later? What do you think will happen to her, assuming she does not die for thwarting a man’s desire? She’ll be pulled out of school, be married off to a man who may yet again pose a danger to her life and limb, be saddled with multiple children, her unfulfilled life one of complete drudgery till her death of resignation and sadness. These men were all just being themselves and they will if not ‘cherished’, definitely will not be punished for their crimes against humanity.

Women are forced to dumb themselves down to uphold the fragile ego of a spouse

In the anthology film Shivaranjaniyum Innum Sila Pengalum directed by Vasanth, Shivaranjani’s mother is discussing the invitation card for the impending marriage of her daughter. She mentions that the groom just wants the name of his multinational employer mentioned under his name and not his (junior) position in the company. No one checks with Shivaranjani if she wants her accomplishment as a national level athlete mentioned under her name. So a woman who is way more accomplished than her spouse accommodates his fragile ego even before their marriage. How’s that for cherishing someone for just being? (For context – I have reviewed it right here on Women’s Web).

And yet women have to constantly prove themselves superwomen, capable of working within the home and outside, bringing up children, caregivers to the elders, masterchefs in the kitchen, keep the house clean enough to do surgeries in, not to feel any emotion lest they be considered hysterical, to be willing sex slaves to their husbands, to praise their husbands when they ‘babysit’ their own children.

I’m sorry, I’m not interested in feeling sad for men

For millennia women (and other genders) have suffered the greatest human rights abuse at the hands of men. We have less than half the resources that men get, girls are still given considerably less nutrition and education than boys. We leave home every day not knowing if we will be raped today in a uber, in a dark lane, propositioned, assaulted, murdered for resisting- all very real possibilities.

And yet we go out, fall, pick ourselves up, persevere, lead others, stay kind and compassionate in raising our sons, strive for a better world, for equity, equality, justice. No one writes quotes on cherishing women, letting us simply be, no one made it viral on SM. We taught ourselves and each other.

If men want a better world, they need to do better for themselves and each other and their sons and the world at large. Please don’t by default place the onus yet again on women’s heads to do better by men.

Image source: YouTube/ Mahabharata

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About the Author

Hema Gopinathan

Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A teacher trained in the Waldorf/ Rudolf Steiner pedagogy, a writer, an artist, a crocheter, Hema spends half her time in read more...

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