We, the Citizen
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
The formally expressed attitude of the Taliban towards women reveals an extreme form of machismo. They appear to believe that their testosterone levels are at such an uncontrollably high peak that even the sight of a woman’s bare ankle will drive their men berserk! Male elephants become quite uncontrollable when the secretion from their eye glands begins to flow. Male polar bears have been known to permanently damage their breeding prospects in a mating frenzy. Perhaps those fierce men from the mountains know something about their own genetic make-up which we don’t.
But quite apart from such special factors, virtually all human societies have protected women. This, in turn, has resulted in women being relegated to an inferior status. The term Drawing Room was a short form for the Withdrawing Room to which the women withdrew after dinner to allow the men to discuss business! Women were not considered capable of grasping the intricacies of commerce!
When we launched our career as travel writers, we decided that we would not adhere to this antiquated tradition. We brought two distinct perspectives to our writing and photography. We would merge both into our creations. It was difficult, at first, calling for long discussions and, often heated, arguments, but that, essentially, is what marriage is all about!
Editors appeared to have no problem with accepting a joint by-line, but others did.
Surprisingly, after an American country invited us to do a fam tour, its national airline followed it up by saying that if we were husband and wife, they could not host us because that would be a violation of their company’s policy. We replied that clearly their policy clashed with ours. We have still not visited that country!
Then there was the curious matter of the award given by a well known association of tour operators. We could not attend their convention so one of their senior members was delegated to present it to us later. It was a beautiful silver plaque in its own display case but, sadly, we could not accept it. It was engraved to Hugh Gantzer. It now sits proudly with our other awards and with both our names on it!
We recall with pride the courage of our friend Admiral Ramu Ramdas. He was the first Naval Chief to induct women officers. We filmed these young ladies on parade in our TV documentary Citadels of the Sea. When they were asked if they wanted separate bathrooms and toilets they said that if they could use common facilities on trains and planes, why would they need segregated ones on board?
Are male-dominated societies trying to foist their own fears on to females claiming that women need protection when, in fact, it is they who are, inwardly, cringing in fear? Is this why the Taliban have to whip women into submission, in public?
All over the world, conservative organisations try to preserve the male dominated organisations. And all over the world they are falling to the logic of gender equality.
The diametric opposite of Talibanruled Afghanistan is Finland. There, women under 36 dominate the cabinet. Gender Equality and Civic Order go hand in hand. The Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland are the torchbearers in gender equality. They also lead the world in the provision of Civil Services and Civic Order.
Do gender equality, civil services and civic order go hand in hand? It would seem so. And then is the opposite also true?
So where does that leave our netas? Why are they scared of being questioned? The Buddha was not. In fact he wanted his followers to question everything, even his own teachings. That is why Buddhism has become the fastest growing religion in the world today.
And, dear netas, don’t be deluded into believing that you have all the wisdom, and the right to rule. Dictators believe this, but how many dictators are there left in the world today?
In our multi-polar diverse world, the principle of the joint by line will always prevail.
(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 first-person 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.)