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Monday, December 20, 2004

And speaking of men and women

So why can Superman and Spiderman have ordinary wives who know their secrets, while giving Wonder Woman an ordinary husband poses huge problems?

On a related note, Rahul told me about an interesting thing that happened in Ann Arbor. As you may know, the University of Michigan (AnnArbor) and the Ohio State University have a huge rivalry going. Both are members of the elite Big Ten League (so is Northwestern, but thats another story), and are bloody good at football. So UMich-OSU matches usually lead to a great deal of fuss.
Anyway, so some beer company puts up a print ad, which was reasonably unoffensive as beer ads go (which isn't saying much). They have a girl in a UMich sweatwhirt and a guy in an OSU sweatshirt kissing. Both holding the relevant brand of beer, and the catchline goes "brings even the worst enemies together", or some such.
What was probably not surprising was that the students at UMich made a bonfire of these posters. What was surprising was their main objection - Why was the girl in the UMich sweat and not the other way around. In Columbus, Ohio, the reaction was one of glee. After all, they got to be the dominant partners in the relationship.

All this is similar to the objections that some Muslims had to Mani Ratnam's Bombay. Why was the female character Muslim and not the other way around?

Final example - Antara points out the following on her blog.

Indian men have this peculiar thing with white I will say I noticed that more brown women date white men than the other way around. Part of me says, this isn't right- how much of this is exoticization and one of those 'Indian fetishes' (I've met white males who do have 'brown women' me). But there's this whole power thing with white women I don't get, some post colonial condition I don't have an insight into.

The above is absolutely true. You see a LOT of white guys dating desi girls, but the reverse rarely happens. In the few cases that it does (I can think of a very obvious example close to home), the guy usually assimilates himself into the American milieu before going out, and for all practical purposes is a PIO, rather than an Indian strictly.

I trace all of these phenomena to a single point. Everywhere in the world, the woman is the one who marries into the man's family and not the other way around. Even in lesser relationships (not amounting to matrimony), the woman becomes the man's and not the other way round. The direction of the possession mapping is unequivocal and unidirectional.

So WW is marrying beneath her status and Supes is not.

So a guy kissing a girl is expressing his ownership over her (a better word is haque)

So a brown woman is upping her status by marrying into the superior culture, with no cost to the guy. If a brown guy married a white woman, he would have to first become part of American culture to prevent the girl from taking a step down.

And no amount of hyphenated post-marital surnames will change that.