I present to you GPS – short for Golden Penis Syndrome. Ha! Did you think I was going to talk about the Global Positioning System and the annoying voice that recalculates the distance every time you make a wrong turn? (I could talk about that too, considering every time I hear that voice, I feel the urge to break the device. But that is a topic for another day.)

Yes, I agree gentlemen are so wonderful to be around, and fathers always make sure the blanket covers you fully if you drift off to sleep, and your friend drops at your doorstep because the thought of you going back home alone in the dark worries him, and your boyfriend lifts your suitcases. I have these men in my life too. But, men do have it so easy, simply by virtue of being men (and this is what I refer to as the Golden Penis Syndrome).

Men can do things:

Men can stay out late without answering 50 frantic calls from home, without parents worrying that someone may have behaved inappropriately with them.

Men can take up a job offer in Delhi, without having to convince their family that they are not going to be raped.

Men need not learn to maintain a house or cook a meal, they can assume they will always have someone do it for them.

Men can admit they have girlfriends, and have everyone smile indulgently at them, and no one will give them a negative character certificate.

Men can make plans and take decisions, and they will not be expected to ask for approval.

Men will be appreciated for the risks they took and the ambitions that drive them, and they will not be ridiculed for having too many fancy thoughts from reading all the wrong kinds of books.

Men can be arrogant and thoughtless, while having their mother’s permission to act that way.

Men can do as they please, because they are men.

No, I am not that feminist, the one who hates men. Maybe I just wish I was a man too. Or maybe I wish I didn’t have to fight for my independence (and safety, and respect). I remember a conversation that took place at home. My mother was feeling a little depressed and helpless thinking of my still-unmarried status, and she turned to my (much) younger brother: Who will take care of her when we’re gone? If she refuses to marry? You have to be the one. And he said: But why must I do that? She’s older than me, shouldn’t she be the one taking care of me? I know that this entire conversation is wrong, and if I were being honest, I will admit that I do feel bitter about the freedom he enjoys. But maybe there is still hope he will grow up to be impervious to gender stereotypes. And maybe he will be the kind of man who believes a woman can be strong in her right, in charge of her own life. (I’d like to think I was partly responsible for that.)


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