Women.. And Men’s Power Struggle


Me and my other half have often had discussions about the evolution of our society, social practises and their setbacks. Rarely have the early men, in the jungles, been out of the picture.

Looking at where it all began; men went to hunt, kids played around like Mowgli, and women stayed back in their caves to cook, is what most of us believe. Unlike today, there must not have been an institution of marriage back then, holding responsible a woman to take care of a man, kids and the family. Also, in a cave, I don’t expect women must have bothered to spend time in chores like mopping, dusting, washing clothes (they wore leaves), etc. In the male’s absence, she would have protected herself and kids, if any wild animal came by. So I beg to differ with this role categorization that led to the pseudo extension and continuation of it. Not having anything to do, no food to cook (I am sure they did not freeze or store food then), what would a woman do sitting in a dark cave? She must have obviously gone out, wandered, tasted wild fruits and explored the jungle just like her male counterpart.

Speaking of jungles, I can’t help but talk about our co-beings, animals! A lion is referred to as the ‘King of the Jungle’, but unlike some human kings, he does not like to hunt. It’s always the lioness that kills for him, lets him eat first and then feeds the cubs and herself. I am taking the liberty to assume that no compensation is paid to the prey’s family, no monetary transaction happens to procure food. So practically the lioness is the bread earner and not the lion. In case of a threat, which is rather unlikely to the king from his kingdom, who do you think will protect only himself and who will protect the entire family? No prize for guessing!

Besides hunting, a key reason male animals fight with each other is for choosing a partner to mate with. Here again, the female has the right to reject. You will never see two females at warfare over a male but vice versa. Similarly, amongst humans, it’s usually the man who tries to woo the woman.

What I am trying to establish here is that women were more powerful, stronger and independent during the beginning of human evolution. Realising this, men started making social rules and practises to dominate her. What we believe to be their physical supremacy or hunting capability was in fact their insecurity and inferiority.

Gradually and eventually, society, especially Indian, welcomed the thought of patriarchy with open arms. Since childhood, women were taught and trained to act weaker, more ‘lady like’. The word ‘feminine’ gained a vulnerable meaning. Sadly enough, women also started believing what the men wanted them to believe, in generations preceding ours. Not just men, even some women left no stone unturned to ensure other women remained weak, just like themselves.

Now that the society has taken a little diversion to go back to it’s original, powerful self, I hope and wish that we act open, as well as logical. Logic, to understand why these rules were made. Why are rules made, if not with an intention to control? I said ‘go back’ and not ‘go ahead’, not because it’s just the women, but also the men who need to shift to that unbiased position in the circle. Once there, they both can move ahead together.

Speaking of gender equality on International Women’s Day, this post has thoughts of both, me and my other half!


The Unorthodox Virtue of Selfishness


Sigmund Freud invented a theory about Ego and categorised it as Id, Ego and Super Ego. Id, the instinctual drive, unorganised in nature, is our unconsciousness. Ego, the reality principle, is our sub consciousness and Super Ego, the inner critic, is our consciousness.

While he emphasised ego under the structural model of the human psyche, I feel it is sometimes incomplete without a correlation with its silent comrade, Selfishness. Before we conceive it as something negative, let us reflect on how much is too much! Or better yet, beyond what degree does it become appalling; since a part of it is the core of a human being?

Freud wisely explains that Super Ego is a socio-cultural influence; a moral control by parents, teachers, models, that prohibits the drives and fantasies of the Id. Man is an individual before a social being. Considering Maslow’s need hierarchy theory to support the former, social needs are secondary to physiological and safety (self defence- a practical form of selfishness) needs.  So Super Ego is effective given the presence of society, which makes an external system of human life, but the core desires fulfilment of the Id. Conflict happens only after the need for it has been identified. It may be prohibited later, but it was there, and may recur. For example, hunger is a basic need. To fulfil that need, the way food is procured is what determines how ethical or unethical the process was. If the food is cooked or bought, it’s legitimate, but if it is stolen, it becomes forbidden. Adam’s apple, the forbidden fruit!

Sigmund’s theory excludes children, as their impulses demand immediate satisfaction; sleep, hunger, urination and defecation. But I believe children are the closest to, and most apparently so, to their Id or selfish selves. They are the most intuitive and away from the authority of social pressure. They are at harmony while playing, but rush to the mother only for sustenance. A child cries until his mother stops doing everything else and attends to him. So is the case with pets, they love their masters as long as all their needs are being taken care of. There’s an animalistic streak in both animals and humans, just that animals stick to their core, and humans get socially influenced. Sometimes for the good, say while avoiding crimes, but not as much while unreasonably following the social codes, say not protesting for justice.

Can a man indulge in altruism before or without being responsible for his own happiness? The real question is not as much of the order, as that of the individual definition of happiness and compromise. It is proper to follow ethics, to think of goodness, to forgive and maintain peace; but is it also proper to compromise, to forget, to bottle up and always think of the larger picture? Aren’t larger pictures a manifestation of several smaller pictures?

Human psyche is too multi dimensional to be absolutely selfless. Integration of various layers is possible when all of them are aligned, and that can never be a perpetual state. Human Ego and Selfishness can be as subjective as human evolution, if we choose to look beyond the binaries of right and wrong.