Men Behaving Badly was a highly successful tv sit-com that dominated the light entertainment scene in Britain all through the 1990s. It was even exported to the US and remade for American audiences who did not however take to it and so was abandoned after two seasons. But later the original series was televised there, perhaps more aptly as British Men Behaving Badly, and an Australian version, It`s a Man`s World also then followed. Whatever the title, it well encapsulated the essence of the plot line: a couple of male friends in their thirties engaging in lurid drunken banter about their sexual proclivities, both imagined and real. In their constant battle of wits and pointless chatter, mixed with some bodily shenanigans, they were seen forever trying to get the better of their girlfriends but did not always succeed, as often the tables were cleverly turned on them. Overall however, what was dubbed as this `politically incorrect world of booze, burps and boobs` did was to indulge their macho vanity, and in that it was not far wrong from the reality, because surely men have historically always behaved badly towards the female of the species!
It is purely incidental that the person who inspired this article happened to have been a South Asian woman, encountered via a facebook post, as manifestations of the phenomenon which I have chosen to write about truly abound. To withhold her name deliberately, she declared that, unaccustomed as she was to public posturing, she felt a great urge to make it known to many that she had recently dyed her hair an unexpected colour: silver. And sure enough, the post was complemented by four pictures of her with her brand new, silver locks, seen from different angles. Below it was a litany of comments of high praise: You look fabulous! True Beauty! You haven’t changed a bit! Ageless! And so it continued.
Now, given this edition’s editorial theme I am certain that it will highlight the experiences of valiant and courageous women who should be role models to all our sisters, wives, cousins, nieces, daughters and granddaughters: women who can be defined, without apology, by their achievement alone. However, the more I allow myself to think as independently as is possible without recourse to received wisdom, the more I am inclined to think that far too many women wish to be defined by their looks and, further, by their looks as registered by men. Consider the cheerleaders whom we see at every interval during televised Super Bowls and One Day Cricket encounters; consider the female broadcasters on our own screens who arrest our concentration more by their fetching appearance rather than by the questions that they ask, as they coyly interview heads of state more than twice their age; consider the female politicians whose careers are curtailed because they don’t look attractive enough; consider the continuing obsession with ‘body image,’ worldwide.