We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
Sixty years ago we launched our joint by-line. We did so because we believe that men and women bring different perspectives to their creativity. We wished to capture this because we wanted our writing to relate to everyone. At first, it seemed to worry some people. When a powerful tourism organisation decided to give us an award for our work, we had to refuse to accept their beautiful trophy because only Hugh’s name appeared on the silver trophy. They had it re-engraved to include both our names. Later, when Air Canada wanted to offer a tour of that wonderful country they added the rider that, as a matter of policy, they never invited husbands and wives together. We wrote back saying that since their policy clashed with ours, neither of us could accept their offer. All we have seen of that impressive country is the frozen airport of Gander on our way to Cuba on another airline.
This male-only bias flies in the face of modern values. Or even ancient ones for that matter. We speak of Bharat Mata not Bharat Pita. Britain has been named after the Celtic goddess Britannia. Language scholar Peggy Mohan gives a persuasive reason why we also speak of a Mother Land and a Mother Tongue. When new people set out to discover greener pastures in distant lands, the males generally travel alone carrying their products with them. When they settle down in those faraway places they marry local women. Their children learn their first words from their mothers which is why we call that language the Mother Tongue, and the land of their mothers the Mother Land. It is only later that the fathers intrude, often denigrating their wives’ native tongue. This selective difference often goes so far as to consciously refrain from preserving their paternal language in their own script. It has to be memorised and learnt by rote. But because voices, accents and intonations vary with time and race, the original meaning and pronunciations vary with the passage of time.
There is, however, an even more fundamental level erosion of the hyper-macho approach to social order.
Males dominated the social order for generations because their bodies are more muscular and therefore more suited to strenuous physical activity. Men were the hunters, women the gatherers. While men were out hunting, women stayed in the camp and looked after the little children. Women got pregnant and had to rely on other females to help them through the trials of pregnancy, child-birth and child-rearing. This gave rise to the image of the gender separation of social obligations. But when the wheel, the lever and the pulley system were invented, the reliance on masculine muscles started to erode. Today when there is virtually no reliance on male muscle power, the essential home-making social instincts have begun to play a predominant role.
Here is a list of some of the women who are now occupying positions as Movers and Shakers of world affairs. Marija Pejcinovic Buric is the 14th Secretary General of the Council of Europe elected in June 2019. Magdalena Andersson is the Prime Minister of Sweden since 30th November 2021. The Prime Minister of Finland is Sanna Marin, while the Prime Minister of Denmark is Mette Frederiksen. The Prime Minister of Iceland is Katrin Jakobsdottir. It is significant that the Scandinavian countries are noted for the high standards of their civic services. Two other facts also strike us. New Zealand, headed by a woman, is also noted for its exceptional handling of the pandemic and Bangladesh is remarkably stable in a region seething with communal tensions. All of which begs the question, would Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been better served by their rulers if such persons had been women?
We also see a forthcoming gender evolution in the workplace. As more and more people work from home, the male-biased structure of the office is giving way to the duality social web of the home. At first we found it difficult to explain why Indic societies are still so male dominated, with the exception of the youngest member, Bangladesh. The foundational beliefs of these societies are a deep-rooted principle of Duality expressed in the Siva-Shakti basis of all creation. Perhaps we have allowed ourselves to be more influenced by macho mores then we would like to admit. The recent controversy over the depiction of a powerful female, revered by many in our land, is an indication of the manner in which the monuments to maleness are likely to be threatened in the very near future.
We might yet see a burgeoning of joint by-lines which we embraced sixty years ago!
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 firstperson articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)