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     Volume 4 Issue 27 | December 31, 2004 |

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The Battle of the Sexes

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

It's finally here -- Dhaka's wedding season -- when every girl goes through all her mom's finest jewellery to find the right match for the perfect sari and when every unmarried person over the age of 21 has to hear the dreaded question, "So when is it your turn?" It is probably this charming line of questioning that triggered a conversation at a dinner party I was attending a few nights ago, where one of the male guests shocked everyone by claiming, "falling in love is probably the worst thing to happen to a guy."

At this comment my female counterparts and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes -- a gesture that was to be repeated throughout the conversation. After all, isn't it a common complaint among women that men are commitment-phobic? And they have the nerve to blame it on us! Catcalls from the other men in the room signified that this seemingly lone ranger, who was so scared of falling in love and committing, was not so alone after all.

"It's true, you know, once you're hooked it's all over," he continued, gaining courage and confidence from his admiring male audience. "And trust me, women are smart. They will put up with all your crap until they know they've got you and after that, you are basically their slaves. They own you. And they will never let you forget what you made them go through in the beginning when they were just ensnaring you in their trap by accepting everything you do. The guilt trip that they put you on is enough for them to control you for the rest of your life. They are so obsessed with commitment and completely manipulating."

My female friends and I looked at each other knowingly. After all, it is so typical of men to label women as manipulating. It's a wonder that men and women are meant to live side by side, through thick and thin when they are so integrally different. To most men, commitment is seen as a trap, whereas, for most women, commitment is seen as a promise.

"The problem with men is that they are unwilling to give too much of themselves to anyone," claimed a girl in defence of the female race. "They are selfish. Women are much more ready to sacrifice and compromise than men are. They give more, and they accept more, so therefore, they expect something in return. What's the problem with that?"

Apparently, the problem is that the "thing" that most women want in return is the equivalent to a death sentence for certain men. These prize catches believe that committing to a woman signifies the end of and era -- the infamous bachelor days, where the alpha male, who answers to no one (with the exception of his mother, of course), reigns as king. This fear of losing one's manhood and embarking on a new (more adult) journey is possibly what keeps most men from committing fully to a woman.

On the flip side of the coin, however, being obsessive about commitment is never a good thing either. Men are right. Women are sometimes so caught up with finding a life partner that they often forget the one question that is really important--"is this person the right person for me," and "do I really want to live with this person for the rest of my life?" Men, on the other hand, seem to spend their entire lives looking for the perfect match, hoping that cupid will somehow send them an Aishwarya Rai lookalike with the body of Bipasa Basu, the brains of Jhumpa Lahiri and the personality of Mother Teresa. It's not surprising that they end up missing out on "something good" during their unending search for "something better" that may just be "right around the corner."

The argument continued back and forth between the men and the women in the room. It ended abruptly when the culprit in question -- the young man who started the whole conversation -- got a call from his significant other, at which point he turned to his admiring audience and claimed that he had to go pick her up. He rushed out of the house without a second glance backwards. The ladies in the room smiled as the other so-called "gutsy" men stared open-mouthed. Well what do you expect, gentlemen? Love is strange. You can curse it and avoid it as much as you want, but at the end of the day it will catch up with you. Like it or hate it, that's love for you.



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