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Oh, Womaniya!


By Ratna Manucha

‘Frailty, thy name is woman.’ One of William Shakespeare’s most famous soliloquys from Hamlet, that belonged to another era, when women were meant to be seen and not heard, comes to mind, as I sit down to write.

The dictionary defines frailty as the condition of being weak or delicate. It also means weakness in character or morals.

Hamlet refers to the second meaning, when he addresses the court after finding out that his mother has married his father’s younger brother Claudius within two months of her husband’s death. Here he is referring to human frailty as he found his mother morally weak.

But, today, let’s just dwell upon the earlier meaning of frailty – that is seeing women as being physically weak and delicate. For the longest time, women have been referred to as the weaker sex. I really can’t figure out whether they meant that women were physically weak or that they were both – physically as well as mentally weak.

Studies have found that men are and women, both, are equally mentally strong, though generally women tend to be more resilient. Men tend to control their feelings so they come across as being very strong emotionally. Women on the other hand, may burst into tears on occasions, but once that bout of crying is over, they emerge stronger, get up, dust themselves off and move on with the task at hand.

The last three decades have seen women trying desperately to be equal to men. For the life of me I can’t imagine why they need to do that. Why can’t they embrace their femininity and enjoy the men’s masculinity? If God wanted you to be like a man, He would have made you one, wouldn’t He have? Scaling the highest mountain, diving into the deepest ocean – all the while struggling to keep up with the superior race! By the way, who classified the men as superior? Why couldn’t it have been the other way around? Can you think of one instance where the men have tried to match up to us?

I, for one, definitely don’t want to wear the pants. What do I pair them with? Plain, solid earthy colours or stripes or plaid checks? (Though today’s metro-sexual man is fast changing this order by embracing exciting colours like amaranth and cyan – also prints – and more power to them!)

For me, it’s got to be pretty in pink, luminous in lilac, gorgeous in green, beautiful in blue… any day!

Women want to storm all the male bastions, take up the jobs and then spend a lifetime trying to prove they are equal, if not more, than men. So who’s going to take up the women’s jobs? Or have all jobs become gender neutral now? Just a thought!

I may be outdated in my thinking but it is a known fact that physically women are the weaker sex. The physically strong woman is almost a myth. They don’t have the same upper body strength as men. But, on the other hand, women are definitely more robust and generally have a longer life span than men. They are emotionally stronger. (Do not look upon their tears as a sign of weakness. It is just a coping mechanism. This may be one of the reasons that heart attacks are more fatal in men than in women).

According to a study conducted by the researchers from the University of St Gallen and NYU, Shanghai – women tend to cope with pressure better than men, who tend to buckle during tense moments.

And so, the battle of the sexes rages on.

Wake up, Woman! Learn to play the game! He wants to be macho, let him! Stand there, looking Pretty in Pink, while he opens that car door for you, holds an umbrella over your head as you step out and then lays his coat on that puddle so that your shoes don’t get wet! It can’t get better than this!

  • (Ratna Manucha is an author and an educationist)