The engendered endangered

Let’s talk gender… or not. The latter is more future perfect

Just like #UnderwearMondays, last year had brought much change — some of it good and nice to smell. But while so much stands redefined, we still have much ground to cover. So as we set about throwing out the dirty bathwater, why not go all the way and… wait, I think I have mixed up my idioms. Maybe this is the thought-equivalent of autocorrect, or having another person’s Freudian slip. Moving on then.

It is high time, I feel, that we did away with gender — not anatomically, of course, because every body has specific needs and doctors are best equipped to comment on that. What I am talking about is the quotidian quandary about using pronouns or places that should by default be understood as not being gender-specific. Here are some suggestions:

Toilets: Let’s do away with gender-based toilets. Let’s just learn to clean up after ourselves. Cis-gender men, I am looking at you.

Heels: Either abolish heels on grounds of cruelty or else make it okay for men (outside of Prince) to wear them. For once men start wearing heels, they will tech the hell out of it, all for sake of comfort — retractable heels is one such idea in the wings.

Pink: Blue is not a colour for men, it is one of a classist social structure — lighter shades for the working class and the royal ones for, well, royalty. Pink is the colour of democracy. Or it should be. It starts with brands stopping using pink for their women’s collections (sneakers to clothes). Either add more colours or make pink for men too.

Karan Johar | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Perfumes: Banish the guy in history who said peonies and jasmines are for ladies while ogreish men should only reek of tree barks. If florals were good enough for Napoleon, I’ll be the bigger man (literally) and graciously accept them too. 2021 is no time for aromas to pick genders.

Clothing: If women can wear skirts why can’t men (outside of Scots)? Why does it only have to be a lungi or a mundu? Can’t men like pleats? As long as a common denominator of decency is respected, clothing should be a form of self-expression and not conformity.

Abuses: I would love to campaign for gender-neutral abuses, but I feel they just won’t feel as cathartic rolling off the tongue. So let’s keep the wordage and agree to reinterpret the meaning, one that is free for gender. Sure it makes the world a less civil place but we’d have a lot fewer basket cases if we could express freely more often.

By now everyone knows who the new American president is, but do we know what’s happening in Bihar or who our local district magistrate is, for that matter? Change, as the adage goes, starts small. So don’t worry about affairs 9,000 miles away; instead focus on revisiting and breaking ground with rooted gender-ideas that we have held on to firmly for so long.

This column is for anyone who gives an existential toss.

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