Can’t buy me love?

All over the greater diaspora, Aunties bemoan that desi children are picky. How will they ever be satisfied? How will they ever settle down and start popping out the requisite grandkids?

Aunties can sleep better at night now that SCIENCE is on the job. Examining peoples’ behavior in online dating settings (which is equivalent to looking at biodata), they’ve noticed a few clear patterns:

Men are easy – they are generally interested in hotness above all.

Women are choosier, but it turns out their preferences are fungible. This is good news for aunties because it gives them a metric with which to translate different suitor’s attributes to a common scale, allowing them to rank apples and oranges. They can tell, for example, whether an average woman (in this study) is likely to prefer the not quite as handsome, shorter i-banker or the more gorgeous, slightly taller, high school English teacher.

What is this common scale? Money. According to these researchers, women will forgive men’s flaws if (gasp) they earn more.

Consider looks. A guy can compensate for ordinary looks with more moola, which tells us what he has to reveal in his biodata if he wants to be a playa:

Suppose you’re an ordinary-looking guy whose online picture is ranked around the median in attractiveness… And suppose you’d like to be as successful with women as a guy whose picture is ranked in the top tenth. Then you’d need to make $143,000 more than him. If your picture is ranked in the bottom tenth, you’d need to make $186,000 more than him. [Link]

Cash also acts like elevator shoes for our shorter brothers:

… a 5-foot-0 guy would need to make $325,000 more than a 6-foot-0 man to be as successful in the online dating market. [Link]

Race matters too. Generally speaking, men were more willing to date somebody of a different race than women, with the exception of Asian women who preferred White men over others. (3/4ths of Asian-white marriages have Asian women and white men [Link] )

For equal success with an Asian woman, an African-American needs no additional income; a white man needs $24,000 less than average; a Hispanic man needs $28,000 more than average. [Link]

It’s not clear whether brown women act like their other Asian counterparts – any thoughts?

Lastly, if you want to get around these sorts of hurdles, skip the biodata and move straight to cha:

… people who are terribly picky in choosing partners online will relax their standards if they spend just three or minutes talking to someone at a speed dating session. [Link]

There you go. Now that science has helped Aunties, maybe it will come up for a way for the rest of us to be able to evade them. Oh yeah, it’s called caller ID

In case you’re interested, here is the academic paper in question.

Related posts: Speed kills (part 1), Speed kills (part 2)

577 thoughts on “Can’t buy me love?

  1. <

    blockquote>Thats a silly point. Women like your aunt were raised to think men/boys are special and so you treats you as such. Much more so than she would treat a girl. That is the point I was making. This is a silly response.

    Women are also raised by their mothers as well as fathers, who were raised by their mothers as well as fathers. It’s not a silly response if you dig your head out of a certain location.

    Young boys aren’t sent away to the some Gulag for crazy Indian male brainwash treatment, only to return to India as misogynistic, “women are inferior” thinking machiness. Aren’t you following the line of thinking here? I know the point you are making, and frankly, it’s incorrect. You equate men and boys with the “/’ in between, but children, including boys are confused, they’re picking up on the way the world works, they’re learning from what they see around them. They can be taught right from wrong. Men and boys cannot be equated.

    Why can’t a girl stay out till 2 am? She might be seen with boys? She might have sex with boys? She might get pregnant?

    I never said she could or couldn’t. All I said was it isn’t the same as aborting fetuses, and starving young girls. Get some perspective, actually read the post. Understand this.. there is more at play, and the issue is much more complex than patriarchy if it’s driving families to ending their own children’s lives you make it seem like they spin a roulette wheel, and if it lands on black instead of red, they just cut their losses and throw another bet down.

    Becuase, well, the latter simply doesn’t happen to the same extent to boys and because pregnancy only affects the girl and the boy isn’t held with the same responsibility/shame

    Sorry, take it up with God. I didn’t put the uterus in the female body. Because of the stark differences in physiology, females risk more when it comes to sexual activity, their bodies are taxed more, their bodies are more visiblly affected. Shouldn’t families with daughters take these clear cut physiological differences into account? Wouldn’t you?

    Quite honestly, I don’t know the point you’re attempting to make. All I know is, the point I’m making is sailing clear over your head.

  2. One of the reasons why women in India perpetuate the patriarchy and their own neglect/abuse is financial.

    Another is “log kya kahenge”…. what will the people think.

    Shame-based cultures base alot of actions (or lack thereof) on “reputation”. What people think about Usha Verma is very important to her. To uphold “kula dharma” is very important to her. If she walks out on a dry marriage – where will she go, with no money, no job? If she has money and job – where in her town will she be able to rent an apartment as “corrupted woman”??? All eyes will be cast on her and fowl language will be slurred at her. All her connections will be severed – because she walked out on an unhappy marriage.

    Until woman are willing to risk their all-important repuations and “rough it” through life a little, on their own…… not much will change.

    Who is forcing Usha to stay in a bad marriage? Nobody. But her mind tells her that her society, culture, family, reputation, peace of mind and very life depend on conforming and staying.

    It boggles me how the concept of ego-anihilation sprang from this very same culture. Any takes on that?

  3. HMF:

    No, I understood your points. My argument is that the women you speak of were also girls once who were also raised to think a particular way and your assinuation that they can just change how they think about boys and men versus girls and women is oversimplistic. I don’t understand what else your going on about. I never implied boys were brainwashed isolated from the rest of society. I only emphasized that we are all part of a society that enforces such thinking — to put all the responsibility on the women to change because they wake up when they’re older one day and say, “Oh shit — this sucks — I am going to be empowered and treat boys and girls, men and women equally” is all too simple.

    Finally, lets not argue over syntax in regards to my second point. By saying, “Why can’t girls do xy?” I am talking about societal rules not what you think or allow. And, you are missing my point. Sure, girls get pregnant and they should take extra precautions. Does that mean boys are free to get any one pregnant without any repurcissions? Well, in Indian society that is largely true. There is no responsibility or shame when it comes to them being sexually premiscuous. Sure, they can STDs as well, surely they can father children? Girls are a liability – sexually, socially, financially. Those are the reasons foeticide happens.

  4. @ennis:

    regarding the blank noise project—i followed them for a while since they first started. eve teasing is a real problem in many indian cities, even in the south.

    eve-teasing is frequent enough that almost all women i know take precautions. however, at least in the south, it is not as rampant as some people are insinuating—not to the extent that every woman gets molested in broad daylight. there have been some instances like that though, they make big newspaper headlines whenever they happen.

    coming back to the blank noise project: personally, i would go for more serious people. to me, they seem to go overboard (look at the whole list of eve teasers) as well. the point is, it is hard to defend their point of view in many of their statements. my guess: they are bunch of kids who have unfortunately seen/been victims, but they don’t exactly know what they are doing. so they have my sympathy and support for their message, but i wouldn’t point their site out if i had to blog about eve-teasing.

    but let it not happen that in focussing the blank noise project, you overlook the very real problem of eve-teasing.

  5. Random,

    If being constantly cut-off in mid-sentence, dismissed, not listened to, were ordinary forms of human interaction, applicable to males and females equally, as you imply, I would certainly not have remarked them in my interactions with Indian men. If the problem were my ego, I would certainly have encountered this behaviour here as well. In other words, you didn’t get it. Indian men, in general (and yes, there were exceptions) treated me with a degree of dismissiveness and self-righteous dominance which I have not seen in either North America nor in Europe. Your own dismissiveness of my and SP’s experiences is no doubt a symptom of the same social illness.

    Your point (for lack of a better word) about the ‘strenuousness’ of transport being the reason women tend to stay inside in India is such hogwash it’s funny. I took the buses, trams, autorickshaws and metro on a regular basis with no problems (except getting my ass and thighs groped by men who, no doubt, thought I deserved it for taking on such ‘strenuous’ activity). None of this was nearly as physically strenuous as sweeping, washing, peeling vegetables, grinding spices – the kind of work female domestic help in India does daily. Take a look at the female brick kiln workers; it’s comical and extremely condescending to assert that they wouldn’t have the energy to walk down the street to get some groceries.

    With respect to your point about kind-hearted landlords being concerned about the molestation of single female tenants, and therefore denying them apartments – man, you just get funnier. Elderly couples are regularly attacked in apartment buildings; do you see these same landlords denying rentals to old people? Since when do landlords care about anything but money?

    I suspect that single female tenants bring down the reputation of a building, just as blacks were once deemed ‘undesirable’ tenants in the US. Why? Because, dear Random, of narrow-minded, if smarmy, individuals like yourself who STILL consider that ‘normal women’ live with their families. So let’s see – that means a woman who travels to another city for work is abnormal; a woman who flees a family that beats her is abnormal; a woman whose family throws her out because she doesn’t want to marry a loser is abnormal; a woman who wants to live independently so she can write, paint, study in peace is abnormal; a woman who no longer has close family members living is abnormal.

    Thanks Random. Your obtuse inhumanity exemplify what is wrong with many men in India. Don’t worry about me…I’m just bitter and have a vagina and don’t know what I’ve really experienced anyway.

  6. Young boys aren’t sent away to the some Gulag for crazy Indian male brainwash treatment, only to return to India as misogynistic, “women are inferior” thinking machiness

    funny..this actually happened to my hubby…i mean he was fine until a year after our marraige when he went to india alone and he started saying things like “why cant u behave like a wife; you behave as if we are in a bf-gf relationship” “you should get up early, give me tea….whn i come home dinner should be ready…blah blah blah” I dont know wht they did to him but they ( i guess my in laws) sure messed up my life

  7. you will have to scroll up to the top of the page in the link i posted. something is not working with their site.

  8. Random, try living in India as a woman, in four different cities, over twenty years, when you routinely plan your life around avoiding groping and are treated as an inferior being and condescended to and dismissed on a regular basis and have to write your father’s and/or husband’s name on even the most minor form, and then live on three other continents and see that things are different elsewhere. I don’t know if your attitude stems from denial or from a genuine lack of experience and defensiveness/romanticising about a place you have visited on vacations only, but it’s really quite laughable to hear you dismiss the experiences of every single woman on this thread as “exceptional” or as something one must have been imagining.

    It is not for you to “agree” or not with the fact that harrassment happens either, it’s simply a sad fact, hundreds of thousands of Indian women experience it every day and it’s all over the newspapers. You won’t SEE such things with your own eyes because Indian men and boys do them furtively, the woman it happens to frequently just feels a hand on her breast and then turns around and the culprit has run off or she can’t tell who it was in a crowd (any woman this has happened to will be able to vouch for that). Things are much worse in North India, less so in Bombay and the South.

    I have found PG’s contributions rather unhelpful in the past but that doesn’t mean her experiences should be dismissed out of hand, in fact it’s a lot worse for a woman who looks foreign.

    And FWIW, boys, it really helps when you listen to women and don’t dismiss them and their experiences, and suggest that their “egos” are speaking or that your arguments just “fly over their heads” – you might have a lot more luck with women if you learn these basics.

  9. How on earth did this thread denigrate into a slug fest of “yes it did, no it didn’t” surrounding molestation?

    Does it really matter? Molestation, harassment, being made to feel unsafe by the attitudes of others in unacceptable in any form. I don’t care whether you believe the comments of one poster or another. If they said it happened then leave it at that. Offer support if you will but don’t turn around and call someone a liar or belittle their feelings, I don’t care what their history of commenting is here, sexual/physical/mental abuse and harassment is not a joke.

    For the first time ever, I am disgusted about what has happened on a thread here. And I felt not saying so was to give silent consent to allow this to continue.

    Enough all ready!

  10. coming back to the blank noise project: personally, i would go for more serious people. to me, they seem to go overboard (look at the whole list of eve teasers) as well. the point is, it is hard to defend their point of view in many of their statements. yes, they do go overboard, and even feel justified/ morally right to do so. what if a few grey area cases get judged prematurely or without benefit of doubt, overall we are bringing down the harrasment, right? ie “something is better than nothing” attitude. this kinda approach is there throughout the public sphere – even NGOs which would rush to blame it all on dowry and related stuff, go overboard. many of us accept it as the price we pay for trying to reform society, but it can be frustrating.

  11. My argument is that the women you speak of were also girls once who were also raised to think a particular way and your assinuation that they can just change how they think about boys and men versus girls and women is oversimplistic

    I’ll say this one last time. Women are raised by WOMEN AS WELL to think this particular way. They can “just change” as easily as anyone else, Irrespective of the difficulty, active participation by females, women towards the boys in their family is necessary but not sufficient to effect the changes you desire. And it’s not oversimplistic at all. In fact, it’s whats done to every other group that’s oppressed? What does the white majority and their model minority vestiges say about black and hispanic people? They’re told to “take personal responsibility” for their own people. Any time the white majority is accorded any responsibility for their condition, the knee jerk response is, “why blame others for their own misfortune?”

    And, you are missing my point. Sure, girls get pregnant and they should take extra precautions. Does that mean boys are free to get any one pregnant without any repurcissions?

    That’s not true at all, there are repercussions for men who get women pregnant illegitimately, ever heard the term “shotgun wedding”? I concede a disparity, but that disparity in repercussions you speak of, is in large part caused by the physiological differences I spoke of earlier. The fact that women hold prenatal infants within their bellies, is not a question of syntax.

  12. what if a few grey area cases get judged prematurely or without benefit of doubt, overall we are bringing down the harrasment, right? ie “something is better than nothing” attitude.

    i agree this happens with many NGO’s. if you are going to a court of law, it may well be ok to be a bit like this. the system expects you to do it, and there is someone else opposing you to correct the imbalance. but this attitude is less benign in a country like india, where your victims may have no one to back them up.

    if you are a NGO who is trying to mold public opinion, this is plain disastrous. you discredit yourself in the eyes of all but the lunatic fringe on some side. this is not the point, you want to get the person in the middle. to me, it is a sign of immaturity in most cases, but in some cases, there is malice as well.

  13. I believe your emphasis on women taking the easy way out is oversimplistic and removed from the dynamics of Indian society and the pressures women feel to stay away from men or to remain pure

    I didn’t really intend any oversimplified generalizations, to be honest. I think we’re basically in agreement. Indian women do face serious societal pressures that impact much of their behavior. All I’m saying is that some (note, not all) of that societal pressure comes from other women…the very group that ought to be the most cognizant (and therefore, the most sensitive to) those societal pressures.

    To some extent, a few of these problems can be remedied by encouraging women to change their mindset. That’s pretty much all I’m saying.

  14. SP/DG/PG or a combination thereof said…

    If being constantly cut-off in mid-sentence, dismissed, not listened to, were ordinary forms of human interaction, applicable to males and females equally, as you imply, I would certainly not have remarked them in my interactions with Indian men. If the problem were my ego, I would certainly have encountered this behaviour here as well. In other words, you didn’t get it. Indian men, in general (and yes, there were exceptions) treated me with a degree of dismissiveness and self-righteous dominance which I have not seen in either North America nor in Europe. Your own dismissiveness of my and SP’s experiences is no doubt a symptom of the same social illness.

    No, I said it can happen in an interaction between two men also when there is an ego conflict. And I’m sure as hell all the infinite men in india who talked to you like that dont do it as a habit to every woman they find. Unless they are plain stupid. Because you know, they’d be the losers and there are lots of powerful women around in india too who can screw them up, they’d face almost the same repurcussions of what would happen if they behaved like that to every man they find. Indian women have ego too, just like you do.

    Your point (for lack of a better word) about the ‘strenuousness’ of transport being the reason women tend to stay inside in India is such hogwash it’s funny. I took the buses, trams, autorickshaws and metro on a regular basis with no problems (except getting my ass and thighs groped by men who, no doubt, thought I deserved it for taking on such ‘strenuous’ activity). None of this was nearly as physically strenuous as sweeping, washing, peeling vegetables, grinding spices – the kind of work female domestic help in India does daily. Take a look at the female brick kiln workers; it’s comical and extremely condescending to assert that they wouldn’t have the energy to walk down the street to get some groceries.

    FOUL. This is what I said: if there was 50 times a family needed some random stuff, say the man does it 40 while the woman 10, because more men work outside, etc. etc. Its probably just convenient that way. When a woman needs to go out in india, she totally does without nearly as much trouble as u imply, especially if they do have a private vehicle. Using the relative skewdness on the streets as an argument for gender discrimination is not a good idea.

    With respect to your point about kind-hearted landlords being concerned about the molestation of single female tenants, and therefore denying them apartments – man, you just get funnier. Elderly couples are regularly attacked in apartment buildings; do you see these same landlords denying rentals to old people? Since when do landlords care about anything but money?

    That was soooooooooooooooooo phony again… I never even remotely sugested that.

    I suspect that single female tenants bring down the reputation of a building, just as blacks were once deemed ‘undesirable’ tenants in the US. Why? Because, dear Random, of narrow-minded, if smarmy, individuals like yourself who STILL consider that ‘normal women’ live with their families. So let’s see – that means a woman who travels to another city for work is abnormal; a woman who flees a family that beats her is abnormal; a woman whose family throws her out because she doesn’t want to marry a loser is abnormal; a woman who wants to live independently so she can write, paint, study in peace is abnormal; a woman who no longer has close family members living is abnormal.

    foul. foul. foul. WTF. are we discussing here or are you simply trying to contest with me and somehow slander me at any cost by attributing to me things that I didnt even remotely imply? I guess some people just can’t keep their egos at bay.

    Single female tenants dont bring down the reputation. Hookers do. Hence the landlord gave the apt to that single female once he was sure she isn’t one. Get it? Do you understand what ‘normal’ means? Its the norm. Meaning, a majority. Thats all. I am saying anything negative about the minority. Don’t you even have a bit of a conscience before twisting arguments like that when you sure know what I meant(I’m, of course totally assuming you aren’t stupid or dumb, correct me if I’m wrong)?

    Thanks Random. Your obtuse inhumanity exemplify what is wrong with many men in India. Don’t worry about me…I’m just bitter and have a vagina and don’t know what I’ve really experienced anyway.

    Your vagina has nothing to do with what is wrong with you. I love humans with vaginas, but only as long as they dont twist arguments and make too many fouls in a game :p

    Another person said…

    It is not for you to “agree” or not with the fact that harrassment happens either, it’s simply a sad fact, hundreds of thousands of Indian women experience it every day and it’s all over the newspapers.

    I’ve never outright denied sexual harassment happens. I only said what I said. Now, go back and if you wish to argue with me, quote me on what I said and point to me anything unreasonable/factual errors. I only contradicted what some of the foul players here were trying to insinuate. the few people who are most vocal about these things try to get it sooo over the top and paint a picture 1000 times worse than reality. For instance, its a fact that the US has the worst rape statistics in the entire world or something. So, somebody in a foreign country goes around quoting this, and says women are routinely raped in the US everywhere (no offence to those who actually went through such an experience). What some of these foul players (that woman PG, esp.) say tends to be a misrepresentation in a similar vein.

    And btw, as you thought, I didnt just go to india for vacations. More like I never even went out of india for vacations (save since last year, I’ve been a grad student on this side of the planet) And yeah, I am also more than 2 decades old. I cant comment again till late tonite though. so take care and have fun :)

  15. As it was, I had to listen to Indian men (the educated lawyers, accountants, bank officials I was dealing with) condescend to me, cut me off repeatedly in mid-conversation, dismiss my opinions, and simply not listen.

    I realize this is DQ’s quote, but I am responding to SP and DQ and others who support this. I submit to you that this may be more about young, or being perceived as being without “influence” than being a woman. The same people often treat me (a guy) in the same condescending way, at least until I intimate that I have “influence” (whether I do or don’t is another story).

    I can think of any number of Indian women of great authority to whom the babus are entirely deferential. One example is Naina Kidwai, the top Mumbai investment banker, who I had the pleasure of knowing. Boots would quake as she walked in the room, Babus would squeal in fear, and not a person would dare treat her with condescension. It was partly her position of power, but it was even more her bearing and demeanor. There are so many others in the worlds of business, arts, government and non-government, who are not treated with condescension.

    India is a society where rank, age and influence mean a great deal. I would argue that many of the troubles that you identified that young women suffer in daily and business life are common to all of those that are young and without influence. This is not to say that this acceptable in a modern society, or that harassment is altogether a different matter, but I’m not sure the Indian business, government and quasi-government milieu is as gendered as you would suggest.

  16. And FWIW, boys, it really helps when you listen to women and don’t dismiss them and their experiences, and suggest that their “egos” are speaking or that your arguments just “fly over their heads” – you might have a lot more luck with women if you learn these basics.

    oh oh, btw thanks for the generous advice aunty :p But we, boys, for sure as hell, dont want to have ANY luck with women of the two types you just mentioned. And there are a good many for whom those dont really hold anyway. So hah.

  17. “why cant u behave like a wife”?

    RV…but do you ever tell your husband to ‘behave like a husband”..I wonder? “Do the heavy lifting”…”be a man..” that kind of thing…because you can’t have it both ways…

  18. Not to make light of this argument (though the heated-up men are getting more funny than obnoxious), but I think we females should evolve something ingenious to keep away the guys.

    (Sorry, but I just came across it, and I’m fascinated.)

  19. but I think we females should evolve something ingenious to keep away the guys

    Seriously though, what’s with the author of the article using the word “rape” ? They’re ducks. Whats the a guy duck supposed to do? write poetry? woo the female duck with some Barry White? Sneak out while daddy duck isn’t watching?

  20. Rape = coercive sex. It is not as common among non-human animals as you might imagine. Only a handful (including ducks and geese) have been observed to force themselves on their mates. I think it’s something like 5% (I’m pulling that number out of my memory) of all observed species.

  21. The “hooker” issue when trying to rent an apartment in India.

    Yeah, certainly there are hookers who do rent apartments, but also, a young, single female who has male friends visiting her apartment will be suspect to alot of her neighbors and the landlords as well. Especially if she’s renting in an area or from people who grew up during an era of not having cross-gender friendships. I know plenty of young people even today in India who only have same gender friends. Their brother’s or sister’s friends are acquaintances whom they refer to as “bhaiya” or “behenji”. So such type of people often mistake a cross-gender friendship for “shekhsy-shekshy”.

    Take it one level further – if the young, single, female tenant has a boyfriend or two coming and going from the apartment time to time, (perfectly normal behaviour in some places) – well, that is often considered “undesirable” also.

    Forget if she is “young” – even a grown woman in her thirties, having male friends or a boyfriend will be treated very strangely in such a situation.

    How do I know? I lived it.

  22. Really, so if it’s not coerced then what, does the monkey try and bribe the she-monkey with a banana? How exactly do you measure in the animal kingdom whether the female is a willing participant or not?

    Also, my guess is the ducks aren’t going to read the article any time soon, the word has some pretty nasty connotations in the human world, that go beyond the act of forced sex. I guess it’s not that big of a deal, I just thought the word choice peculiar. As if the male ducks are going to stop out of being called rapists.

  23. Really, so if it’s not coerced then what, does the monkey try and bribe the she-monkey with a banana? How exactly do you measure in the animal kingdom whether the female is a willing participant or not?

    Having observed the primates in my town very closely (there were alot of them), I have noticed that they often have some sort of foreplay, flirting, even romance between them before doing it. That means sitting together and touching, playing, pinching nipples, etc.

    I’ve also seen homosexual monkeys doing it.

  24. Having observed the primates in my town very closely …. I have noticed that they often have some sort of foreplay, flirting, even romance between them before doing it.

    Tell me this isn’t the coolest thread ever.

  25. Random/Ranfom

    I’ve even been in situations where the landlords ask you if any “boyfriends” will be coming to your apartment. And exactly how is this his/her business?

    Some apartment managers will not rent to grown women in relationships.

    Sometimes those very relationships are considered “illicit”.

    Your area may be different, but knowing what you know about it… do you think most landlords would rent an apartment to a single woman who says, “my two boyfriends may be coming and going from here time to time so don’t be alarmed”.???

  26. Really, so if it’s not coerced then what, does the monkey try and bribe the she-monkey with a banana?

    Yes, in fact, many animals have evolved features and organs solely for the purpose of wooing a female. Practically all species of birds, several reptiles and amphibians, and a fair proportion of mammals, sea creatures, and insects exhibit ornamental sexual dimorphism. Further, several species have distinctive and highly elaborate rituals of courtship, including dances, songs, and gifts.

    How exactly do you measure in the animal kingdom whether the female is a willing participant or not?

    I imagine that if the female struggles to get away, screeches, and is generally non-cooperative, the act can be classified as forced.

    the word has some pretty nasty connotations in the human world, that go beyond the act of forced sex

    Like what? Besides the archaic, of course.

  27. Further, several species have distinctive and highly elaborate rituals of courtship, including dances, songs, and gifts.

    Dances, songs and such I’ve heard of. In particular for insects. Mating procedures are observable, I don’t equate them to romance, I’m not sure, but I doubt other species have a highly developed limbic system as we do, capable of processing the wide array of emotions.

    I imagine that if the female struggles to get away, screeches, and is generally non-cooperative, the act can be classified as forced.

    On all the national geographic stuff I’ve seen, that’s almost always the case. Then again, they may just edit in all the juiciest stuff.

    Like what? Besides the archaic, of course.

    All the social stuff, the shame, the neglect from society, yes it may exist in the animal kingdom, but surely not as pronounced in as in humans.

  28. Yes, in fact, many animals have evolved features and organs solely for the purpose of wooing a female. Practically all species of birds, several reptiles and amphibians, and a fair proportion of mammals, sea creatures, and insects exhibit ornamental sexual dimorphism. Further, several species have distinctive and highly elaborate rituals of courtship, including dances, songs, and gifts.

    The national bird of India — the peacock is a good example of this;

    He spreads his colorful feathers and dances to attract a mate, eventually one approaches him.

  29. Hari – Thanks for the courtesy and intelligence of your response – others could certainly learn from you.

    You have a point. However – based on the comments I heard about women, I consider that being female is an added liability on top of youth and lack of influence. Some of these comments were as follows: women who dress ‘inappropriately’ (ie jeans, sleeveless tops) deserve to be ignored and dismissed, a woman who goes to a marriage negotiation for herself without a relative is ‘fishy’ (I heard all the negative talk about her afterward), a woman who travels alone is suspect (I read this in a newspaper column), a woman who comes home at midnight is a tramp. You can see that all of the above combine to make free movement and an independent life far more difficult for a female than a male. I also noticed that there were very few females who ever spoke in a loud, assertive voice there (except some very old ladies), while there were many males who did so. As for the exceptional females who make male subordinates quake, one might ask why they have to adopt a certain demeanour and bearing at all. Men don’t. Mind you, this particular double standard holds just about everywhere.

    Random – You are a GENIUS. I’ve seen the light. Female foeticide is prevalent because, naturally, people don’t want to bring girls into a world where they will have to navigate the savage street and take the nasty buses to go to college downtown. And dowry is prevalent because it is ‘normal’, don’t you see, for parents to want to provide for their daughters when they go away from home. And there are so many malnourished girls and women because, naturally and normally, girls want to give their food to the boys who have to get the groceries four times out of five due to the lack of a private vehicle.

    As for the lack of visibility of women on the Indian street, it is the most normal and natural thing of all. Why would they want to go out when they can stay inside? Why would they want to experience the world? Why would they want a taste of life? Their husbands, their brothers and their fathers can do it all for them.

    The only thing FOUL here, Random, is the smell of your hypocrisy.

  30. Some of these comments were as follows: women who dress ‘inappropriately’ (ie jeans, sleeveless tops) deserve to be ignored and dismissed, a woman who goes to a marriage negotiation for herself without a relative is ‘fishy’ (I heard all the negative talk about her afterward), a woman who travels alone is suspect (I read this in a newspaper column), a woman who comes home at midnight is a tramp.

    That’s me!

    I was renting a place along with a large extended family all staying in one big “haveli” – where there were seperate sections and entrances for each family, like one big house but separate apartments you could say. I had my own little separate space there and would come in around 8:00 pm – but never after 9:00.

    I heard the bahu of the house whispering in her visiting friend’s ear (while wobbling head) — she comes in at 12 midnite every night.

    I guess 8:00 at night was considered late for her … anyway, as if coming in at midnite is something scandalous to begin with anyway…..

    What you write of above and of your experiences in India rings true in every fiber of my being — been there, done that, got the saree….

    No Thanks!

    I feel so much safer and respected elsewhere.

  31. Mating procedures are observable, I don’t equate them to romance, I’m not sure, but I doubt other species have a highly developed limbic system as we do, capable of processing the wide array of emotions.

    That’s irrelevant to our debate. You suggested that most male animals coerce females into sex. The fact that many species have mating rituals, whether it is emotional or mechanical (and I agree it’s the latter), indicates that this cannot be the case. Purely from evolutionary-biological terms, it is expensive for the male to develop organs and rituals that serve no purpose besides courtship. Complex bodies and behaviors take many more generations to develop than simpler ones, and if these bodies have no added defensive or predatory properties as a result, the species suffers a disadvantage. It is, practically speaking, easier for the species to just skip the mating-ritual evolution, and dictate that the males go grab any unwilling or disinterested female they want.

    The reason a species prefers dignified courtship rules is that they make the females happier than forced sex (animals do have ‘emotions’ at the level of pleasure, fear, and anger): at any rate, violence is distasteful to any living creature. Happier females means healthier offspring, increased willingness to tend to the young, and increased chances for future matings, all of which are highly favorable to the survival of the species.

  32. Well, the simple existence of courtship doesn’t automatically negate that females are willing participants (as is the case in humans as well) but I get your point from a biological POV, that no expressed purpose is served.

    I was answeing PG’s claims of “romance” Either way, his usage of the word in the article is still peculiar and out of place, even if technically usable. The word has charged social connotations, and only humans are reading it.

  33. No Thanks! I feel so much safer and respected elsewhere.

    Ni Pardesi Goriye, you still can’t let it go, though, right? You have some problems. Face them. Address them. Forget India. Seriously. You need to move on with your life. I’m starting to feel sorry for you. Your time there really scarred you. But remember…YOU went there, no one invited you or forced you. This is why I’ve never visited Pakistan, much as I’d like to. I just don’t feel it’s worth the risk. It’s a known entity with known qualities, and if I go there and get in trouble, it’s entirely my fault. So I avoid.

  34. Well, the simple existence of courtship doesn’t automatically negate that females are willing participants (as is the case in humans as well) but I get your point from a biological POV, that no expressed purpose is served.

    Not really. There’s a strong negative correlation between the existence of courtship and the existence of forced sex (and I’m not just guessing… I’ve read a bit around this).

    Humans are different, in that our behaviours are primarily regulated not by biological but by social needs. The procedures of human courtship are (obviously) not hard-wired into our brains. On the other side of the same coin, the idea of forced sex is not hard-wired either. That is, while we are driven by biological needs like hunger or the urge to reproduce, our bodies don’t dictate the details of how we achieve them. I take your point about why ‘rape’ in the context of ducks is a wrong choice, and it’s not just a matter of the stigma: rape in the human world is not motivated by the desire to father babies, and frequently, not even by the desire for sexual pleasure. So the relationship to courting doesn’t really come into the picture. And human females will probably never evolve physical defenses like those ducks.

  35. The reason a species prefers dignified courtship rules is that they make the females happier than forced sex (animals do have ‘emotions’ at the level of pleasure, fear, and anger): at any rate, violence is distasteful to any living creature. Happier females means healthier offspring, increased willingness to tend to the young, and increased chances for future matings, all of which are highly favorable to the survival of the species.

    Amitabh, that should answer your question in #347…

    I’m just wondering why women feel that guys should challenge any of this. This is not trolling, I honestly want some opinions. It’s a different matter that we may not find women willing to put up with these things, and therefore we’ll have no choice in the matter but to change. But given a choice, why would we challenge it?
  36. There’s a strong negative correlation between the existence of courtship and the existence of forced sex

    So there must be instances where courtship in the animal kingdom does not exist? But as you claim, they are only in 5% of observed species? I dunno, it just seems too unscientific a study to determine willingness/unwillingness by simple screeching, etc.. Since you offered, what is your background ?

    And human females will probably never evolve physical defenses like those ducks.

    I figured you were joking about that…

  37. So there must be instances where courtship in the animal kingdom does not exist? But as you claim, they are only in 5% of observed species?

    Courtship is almost universal. It’s not a 100% negative correlation, but it’s very high. In fact, in the outliers, it is more likely that there is courtship and rape, rather than the inverse.

    Also, the 5% (or whatever it really is, don’t quote me on that) is not too surprisingly small, given the thousands of studied species.

    The speculated reasons why animals (as a species) turn to forced sex are actually pretty interesting. Many female spiders, as you probably know, eat the male after the deed is done (don’t ask why). A few spiders have adapted to this, so that the male now ties down the female, essentially forcing sex, mainly to avoid being eaten. In some species where several males fight bloodily over a single female, the males carry over the violence to the poor female when they finally get to her.

    I dunno, it just seems too unscientific a study to determine willingness/unwillingness by simple screeching, etc.

    I was just guessing. Don’t know how they actually do it.

    Since you offered, what is your background?

    No credentials at all. This is purely from reading, and talking to people who know this stuff. So take what I say with a big grain of salt. :)

    I figured you were joking about that…

    Of course I was. I just backed up the idea that it is a joke. (After all, humans are probably going to evolve, so it’s not immediately obvious why this wouldn’t happen too.)

  38. You have a point. However – based on the comments I heard about women, I consider that being female is an added liability on top of youth and lack of influence. Some of these comments were as follows: women who dress ‘inappropriately’ (ie jeans, sleeveless tops) deserve to be ignored and dismissed, a woman who goes to a marriage negotiation for herself without a relative is ‘fishy’ (I heard all the negative talk about her afterward), a woman who travels alone is suspect (I read this in a newspaper column), a woman who comes home at midnight is a tramp. You can see that all of the above combine to make free movement and an independent life far more difficult for a female than a male.

    This is no way suggesting that any of the above its acceptable. In my book, its not. But I would argue that this is personal to your (and likely, many others’) circumstance. I could argue that many others (my sister, cousins, etc.) who live or have lived in India have no trouble dressing as you suggest, travelling alone or bunking curfew, and have been thankfully free of marriage negotiations, but that would be trying to impose a one-off experience to make a broader argument, and that’s not fair. What I will say is that there are broad and meaningful parts of India, where the experiences you raise (and PG raise) are simply not meaningful, and this is particularly true in the increasingly important professional realm – the offices of Hindustan Lever, Wipro, Ansals, etc. and the people who work with them are as progessive as they come.

    I guess my point is that India is much too complicated, diverse to be put into a box about social attitudes, and anything you or I say is bound to be greatly limited. Westerners love to classify and catalogue – it doesn’t work with India.

  39. DQ said…

    Random – You are a GENIUS. I’ve seen the light. Female foeticide is prevalent because, naturally, people don’t want to bring girls into a world where they will have to navigate the savage street and take the nasty buses to go to college downtown. And dowry is prevalent because it is ‘normal’, don’t you see, for parents to want to provide for their daughters when they go away from home. And there are so many malnourished girls and women because, naturally and normally, girls want to give their food to the boys who have to get the groceries four times out of five due to the lack of a private vehicle. As for the lack of visibility of women on the Indian street, it is the most normal and natural thing of all. Why would they want to go out when they can stay inside? Why would they want to experience the world? Why would they want a taste of life? Their husbands, their brothers and their fathers can do it all for them. The only thing FOUL here, Random, is the smell of your hypocrisy.

    My dear Dairy Queen – I will accept your GENIUS compliment, but you are talking 100% bull-pure-shit elsewhere in hte above quote, in the context of how this discussion is evolving. To understand the how/why/what/where/when, reread the entire comment exchange more carefully. I dont have the time to explain things all over. Take care, and have a nice day :)

  40. Hari, your point about youth being a disadvantage is of course correct, but it’s in addition to being female. My male cousins at the same age had no trouble at all renting their own places or doing their paperwork, and nobody was asked to bring Daddy along. Your argument about progressive contexts – well, all of my family and acquaintances are as “progressive” as they come, corporates at multinationals, investment bankers, academics, that sort of thing, and I find that things don’t change all that much as you move up the social ladder. My high-flying banker female cousin still had to deal with shit from her male co-workers (and husband, a fellow high-flying banker, both had met at IIM) at a foreign bank. Another cousin with a high-flying marketing job quit because her lazy-ass male co-worker always got the credit/promotions for group work. The cousin in Bombay could still, thankfully, get around pretty well on her own, while the one in Delhi still wouldn’t take a cab alone after dark, and I suspect many of the differences in experience that people cite have at least something to do with different regional norms. Those are just a few examples. Things definitely are changing and getting better in the milieu you mention but it’s nowhere near the level of equality in the US (and nobody’s saying sexism doesn’t exist in US workplaces, believe me).

  41. ok, from what I understand, basically hari’s post rendered your previous example useless in the argument so you exhibhited more examples. And what is this trouble with official paperwork that afflicts specifically the females in india? (From what I know, some of those official documents(passport?) have father’s name and SPOUSE’s name I agree, but they are same for both men and women. I grant that there is an inequality wherever they ask for father’s name instead of mother’s name?) And I take those infinite examples of all your “high flying” cousins facing professional troubles everywhere just because of being female. Just remember one thing, though: if what you really said happened to everyone extrapolating from every single one of your (high-flying) cousin’s experiences, they couldn’t even have become that “high flying” whatever thing it is, or even gotten hired, in the first place. So ladies and gentlemen, I guess its pretty obvious to everyone here that one needs to take these very freshly generated examples with a careful skepticism, IMHO. As for me, I can vouch for experiences similar to Hari’s from people that I know.

    Things definitely are changing and getting better in the milieu you mention but it’s nowhere near the level of equality in the US

    Your(I mean, the clique of SP/DQ/PG) softening tone itself reveals a lot about your arguments. It came down from “oh its so bad women can’t even lead a normal/decent progressive life/can’t even go out in public” to “yeah, its getting better in this/that ‘milieu’, but just that its not as good as the US”.

    Good nite :D

  42. Random, I won’t be engaging your remarks any more, and I’d encourage the others not to do so either. You are actually a fine example and reminder of why I decided to leave India. I wish you luck.

  43. Things definitely are changing and getting better in the milieu you mention but it’s nowhere near the level of equality in the US (and nobody’s saying sexism doesn’t exist in US workplaces, believe me).

    Alright, so this is established and agreed upon. But, I haven’t heard a lick of a solution offered by any parties? Are we to just continue with , “The US has its problems, but it’s 1000 time better yahoo! go red white and blue!” I’ve suggested teaching men & women to act and think differently about each other when they are young, and this instruction must come from both men and women.

  44. SP – you ask for suggestions. My personal view is that India is not suited for radical change in this, or any other arena, for better or worse. I think incremental change will come. I would argue its happening already at a noticeable base, though under no circumstances can it come fast enough. Time, education and perhaps most importantly, economic growth will all contribute to a solution far more than any explicit head-on measures.

  45. HMF, the solution is obviously not going to be a simple one, change in attitudes is a slow process that is reinforced by ec opportunities, education and awareness, negotiations within relationships, men and women opting for partners on the basis of different values, decisions by women like myself to opt out of or avoid uber-sexist male company and relationships and particularly “protective” and “dominating” ones, and so on, that’s the way change has happened everywhere, including India. Of course both men and women will have to be involved in this process, I think we can agree on that, women do buy into and perpetuate patriarchy too, though arguably this is due as much to the difficulty of fighting from a vulnerable position as it is to a Gramscian sort of acceptance of a hegemonic order/benefits that accrue to women in this arrangement (which they do for some well-off women).

    This is really not about nationalism or defending the US or anything, so I don’t understand the touchiness on this point. Your life and the lives of your daughters, sisters and female friends are all affected by sexism too, it’s a human problem, and the recognition that things are different in one society and another is not about establishing superiority and inferiority. I appreciate your contributions to the discussion, btw, even if I haven’t agreed with you very much.

  46. though arguably this is due as much to the difficulty of fighting from a vulnerable position as it is to a Gramscian sort of acceptance of a hegemonic order/benefits that accrue to women in this arrangement (which they do for some well-off women).

    I think its more the latter. One can hardly argue mother’s relationship to her son is a vulnerable position.

    <

    blockquote>…and the recognition that things are different in one society and another is not about establishing superiority and inferiority./blockquote>

    Then what is it about then? Usually, on a microscopic scale, say when a mother tells her child, “Oh, do you know, so and so, got perfect on his SATs, and got a scholarship, and…” the implication, is…”you should do the same”

  47. I’ve come back to this conversation a little late, but Ennis, I hope you do write a post about the blanknoiseproject and “eve teasing”. I know it’s easy to doubt the veracity of PG’s experiences, but I’m shocked at all the deniers of molestation out there. I lived in Hyderabad and took public transportation, and groping attempts were a DAILY phenomenon. My mom and aunts and my childhood friends have all had the same experience. My mom even got groped when she was PREGNANT. It’s happened to me a couple of times in major US cities, but on nowhere near the same scale.

  48. Random, I won’t be engaging your remarks any more, and I’d encourage the others not to do so either. You are actually a fine example and reminder of why I decided to leave India. I wish you luck.

    Of course. There is nothing to really engage or whatever. I wrote something in reply to what you said, and there is nothing unreasonable with any of what I said. Because I never make reckless blanket claims/exaggerate while saying something… something you should consider too, and you can hope to cut through to a larger segment of critical thinking people with your arguments.

    Not once did I deny anything bad ever happens at all. My, (or even the others who argued with you) contention is just the scale at which you imply with your statements, which actually as you might’ve guessed, is pretty obvious to most people in/from india. Arguments should never be taken personally, especially when its with anonymous ppl, if you are smart enough. It serves no purpose. Peace.