Men will be men – like the lions in the den
As the #MeToo campaign creates more awareness about the extent of the issue, we find ourselves wondering why sexual harassment is so commonplace in the human society. Yet some are discarding this whole campaign as an over exaggeration – not a big deal. And here is the point – its ‘not a big deal’; not just for the men, for the women too.
There is a silent acceptance of the issue in the society, because all of us consciously or sub-consciously believe that there is a biological reason for all the sexual crimes. We believe that sexual predatory behaviour amongst men, is natural because mammal males have biological per-disposition to resort to violence when aroused. The civilised men around us are the same wild beasts, just ‘tamed’ with education & culture. So all mothers through generations, advise their daughters not to trust any man (including men in family relations) in dark & lonely places. The women who end up getting sexually assaulted are criticised for not knowing better about these ‘predators’ who are instinctively bound to show their teeth & nails whenever given the ‘opportunity’. Men will men; its natural & they can’t help it!
Isn’t this derogatory & insulting to all of humankind (not just mankind) to accept this belief as a fact? I wonder whether this inherent misbelief is the core reason that helps breed these ‘predators’ in the first place.
From the dawn of civilisation, the social order established between man & woman (as well as amongst men), has been very similar to that of the lions. Being the ‘Lion King’ is the absolute measure of masculinity. We witness in all ancient cultures how the kings & emperors had symbolised their position with lion statues at the palace gates and thrones marked by lion faces (literally called ‘sinhasan’). If you are a king, you ought to have multiple queens like the lions do, who would exclusively belong to you as your personal property. You ought to be aggressive & intolerant towards other kings and ought to prove your supremacy by attaining your rival’s territory and property (including the wives). The kingship goes away in the modern world but the social order is retained. Masculinity continues to be associated with aggression and objectification of the female kind. It’s so imbibed in our belief system that the perpetrators of the sexual crimes never think they are doing something wrong – because they are just behaving naturally.
I wonder if this social order came really naturally to us or we actually just aped the lions? Such social order prevails with mammals where ‘physical strength’ is the key factor to survival. Clearly there is a biological difference – huge difference in physical size & strength between the males & the females of these animals. But for the civilized human, ‘mental ability’ is the key factor to survival, not ‘physical strength’. And there is no gender based difference in intelligence. Then why would there be a biological reason for humans to behave like lions? Being the greatest of all great apes, did we just condition our brains to believe something as natural instinct, which in reality is a learning by aping?
Would the story be completely different if we had decided to ape the tigers instead? Tigers – where do they show up in our cultural heritages? Mostly, as tiger-skin carpet or a tiger-head wall decor in the mansions of the royals & the riches. Unlike the lions, the tigers are not out in the open. So we did not know much about their social behaviour to ape their style. Though sometimes in literatures we referred to tigers as the real king of jungle, mostly we just considered them as mysterious figures & hunting prize.
If the humankind had aped the tigers, there could be equality in status between the king & the queen. The queen would have her own territory and not be at the mercy of the king. The king would have mating right only when the queen consents and lets him in her territory. And if that could become the order of human society through times, we would not have to worry about safety & equality for women today.
We can’t really change history. But we can try to change the inherent belief about human masculinity. “A man will be a man when he recognises the individuality of the woman” – if this belief alone can be imbibed into human culture, it no longer will be ‘natural’ for any man to objectify or violate women against their will. Wishful thinking? I am really optimistic that humankind will evolve soon to that level.