Since a column with a name that goes ‘Men are from Madras and Women are from Venus Colony’ wouldn’t be taken too seriously, the authors Sudhish Kamath and Shonali Muthalaly decided to borrow from the lesser-known 1991 romantic comedy He Said, She Said. ‘He Says, She Says’ was published every fortnight in the Gender pages of Metro Plus between 2004 and 2006. The battle of the sexes, which ran for 29 episodes, attempts to provoke and provide a few laughs along the way.
“When I uh, buy my wife, at the start she was uh, cook good… work well, and she strong on plow. But after three years when she was fifteen, then she become weak, her voice become deep: BORAT BORAT, eh, she receive hair on chest…” - Borat Sagdiyev
Yes, once upon a time, women stayed indoors in caves flaunting facial hair while poor men went out in loin-cloths to bring food, rain or shine.
Even today, years later, where Borat lives, women are kept in a cage. Far from decorative. What did Borat learn? “When you chase a dream, especially one with plastic chests, you sometimes do not see what is right in front of you.”
This comic classic written by a man ends with Borat marrying a fat hooker who looks like a man, after realising the futility of chasing the Pamela Andersons of the world.
Ask Shrek, and he would tell you that you could love “a hideous ugly beast” as Princess Fiona calls herself (she’s an ogre too, remember?). And the uglies lived happily ever after.
Pop culture has celebrated the non-attractive too.
It’s just that women prefer to drool over Hugh Grant, Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, and Robert Pattinson and their films, and NOT the likes of Austin Powers, Borat, Mr. Bean or Charlie Chaplin. Why? Even I, for one, don’t have women falling all over me. And, if they ever did, I would certainly hope they aren’t so heavy that they could crush me to death.
Now how many women apart from Shonali are known for being funny? Smart, yes. Funny, no. Oh, the Tina Feys are rare. .
So here’s the thing. Just as men either need to be funny or good looking to score with women, women too need to be either funny or good looking. You don’t need movies or books to tell you this.
Gentlemen are men trying hard and women like to see a man try hard. Who does not want to feel special?
Also, men are like hunters who like the chase. Little do they know that women are more than game to have a little fun. And, that the smart woman knows men need something to chase. That’s exactly why they train the dog to fetch the bone.
Fact: Men and women both want the same thing. We just want the woman to look good. Show me a woman who does not want to look attractive. As my funny and beautiful girl friend says, quoting Helena Rubinstein: “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.”
It’s cool for men to be ugly, anyway. Exhibit A.
Once upon a time, women were mostly decorative. They were expected to braid their hair with flowers, bat their eyelashes and wait for willing husbands. Then, feminists such as the 20th Century Suffragettes lashed out, even chaining themselves to railings to earn the right to participate in politics.
One hundred years later, we’re told to be decorative. To highlight our assiduously-styled hair, bat our mascara-laden lashes and wait for willing boyfriends. Apparently, vociferous protest is unladylike.
Apparently, feminists have facial hair and can’t get dates. Apparently, men don’t “make passes at girls who wear glasses”.
Pop culture is bursting with enthusiastic advice on how to be the perfect woman. If Sex And The City writers are to be believed, the only way to land Mr. Big is by waiting patiently in pretty dresses, perfect hair and sexy Manolo Blahniks till he snaps his fingers.
The chatty book-turned-movie He’s Just Not That Into You written by a machismo-dripping former playboy and a chirpy serial dater insists that women should never, ever, ever (and did I mention never?) make the first move. (“Just because you like to lead, doesn’t mean he wants to dance. Some traditions are born of nature, and last through time for a reason.”)
Then there’s ‘The Ugly Truth’, which — yet again — claims to demystify men for once and for all. (“Now, listen up ladies… no one falls in love with your personality at first sight.”)
Yes, these are admittedly-low brow wars in the lipstick jungle. But they’re still very relevant indication of how people are thinking.
Sudhish and I wrote just 29 episodes of this column and then put it to rest, going on to write countless stories on a kaleidoscope of topics.
Yet, even three years after ‘He Says, She Says’ concluded, we still get e-mails asking for its revival.
Why is the battle of the sexes so fascinating? Speaking for the women, perhaps it’s because our every instinct rebels against becoming these brilliantly blow-dried, fastidiously fashioned, tediously toned bimbos that we’re constantly being told to morph into.
Because, as much as most men insist that all they want are woman whose priorities are styling their hair, cooking dinner and hero-worshipping them (not necessarily in that order), we’re hoping that somewhere there are exceptions.
The alternative? We’ve all got to become coy, cloying and coquettish.
The ugly truth is men are actually easy to manipulate. Getting a make-over isn’t rocket science. Pouting prettily doesn’t require a university degree. Slipping into skimpy outfits needs no brain power.
Yet, we choose not to do all these things. We try to ignore all this advice from pretty pop shrinks, hoping that at least some of you men have half a brain. Because, deep down we figure that even you know deep-conditioned hair, false eyelashes, and corset-clad waists won’t last forever.
Heck, they’ll barely survive summer.