Independence Day Thought: Women will break free to defeat the ‘Indian Majoritarian Male’

More women are graduating out of colleges even in Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan seats are being reserved for men in medical colleges. Women have always survived by their wit the worst patriarchies

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

Sonali Ranade

It was a tweet by an Indian woman which set me thinking. “We accept that other than the majoritarian male, everyone else in India has to be ideal, and an idol, to be worthy of becoming an offspring of India,” she had said sarcastically.

Indeed, on this Independence Day, we find ourselves living in the epoch of the Indian Majoritarian Male [IMM], ably led by their 56” iconic figure. As the Indian Male struggles to assert majoritarian control over a rapidly atomizing society, technology is however transforming reality.

Technology and knowledge are both great disruptors and also equalizers. With their carefully nurtured monopoly on knowledge in tatters, the IMM have reverted to authoritarianism, backed by muscle and numbers, to turn the clock back.

The attempt is doomed to failure but that doesn’t mean its potential for harm is limited. In so much as it’s a desperate act to assert control over the uncontrollable, its potential for devastation is that much greater.

The majoritarian male is a relic of the industrial era. This was an age in which we learned how to use division of labour to enable mass production of goods and services at vastly reduced costs.

Organizing mass production necessarily meant regimentation. We marched off the young to factories called schools, where we got them accustomed to sitting on desks for hours at a stretch, mindlessly absorbing the three Rs required to plug them into factories. We promised them jobs, and if they worked hard at the machines, a decent living, a small family, and a dwelling of their own. That is the basic building block of all modern societies, Capitalistic or otherwise.

The world already produces more food, clothing, shelter - and indeed any other everyday good that we can think of - than the seven billion of us living on the planet can consume. But performance versus promise varies sharply from nation to nation, in proportion to the honesty of elites. Those with relatively honest elites prospered; those rapacious, managed to impoverish their masses even amidst the plentitude.

That millions still go hungry, have no shirt on their backs or live in hovels of plastic sheets, is not because humanity lacks the capacity or the wealth to provide them with the necessities, but because we cannot find a way to plug them into the vast matrix of income producing activities that would give them access to a livelihood. The age of plentitude has arrived. What we lack is an equitable means of sharing it out among ourselves.

As complex automated processing plants and robots replace the Alpha Males [AM] in workshops, the AM finds himself diminished. The Indian AM is hit with a double whammy. There is an acute sense of failure about having missed the global bus to industrialization. With global productive capacities already in excess of demand, the future in manufacturing is bleak.

The skills required to cater to highly atomized and personalized emerging economies are neither in place nor are a part of the school curriculum.

The gig economy, where you rotate among three or four hustles, to earn a livelihood, can never be a part of your IMM’s toolkit. He still hankers after a highly structured 9 to 5 job, where application of mind, initiative, entrepreneurial skills are least necessary. He wants guaranteed outcomes, certainty and old privilege, whereas the gig economy offers uncertainty, higher risks and unprecedented change. He is frightened out of his wits, ready to lash out at anything that threatens the orderly life he has in mind.

It this mindless Borg that has been mobilised, empowered, and let loose on the streets, in pursuit of a dream that is well past its time, too much water has flown down the Ganges for the past to return for him.

Freedom, creativity and acting alone

On this Independence Day, it is worthwhile to ponder what Professor Deborah Tenner meant when she said: “To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.”

Freedom works in two realms; sometime in tandem, at other times asynchronously. The dystopia that is upon us can’t be wished away. But it exists, if at all, in the domain of collective action, whereas mindless emotive frenzy, whipped up by demented demagogues, has replaced reason. They have their plans, we should have our own.

The more important freedoms are in the domain of personal action, where freedom is limited only by your creativity. The same technologies that bring us dirt cheap mass communication, pervasive surveillance, fake news and propaganda factories, and the toolkits to manipulate our minds, also bring empowerment to individuals, access to education and knowledge, the power to collaborate cheaply with others like us, and to build networks to distribute goods and services, at tiny, atomized scale in intensely local communities.

The new gig economy is not limiting. It has at once lowered the barriers to entrepreneurial activities that were once reserved for the lucky few. If it feels strange, it is only because most of us have never been to taught to think, feel and work as entrepreneurs. Yet, entrepreneur skills are innate to every human. It is an epoch in which you can survive, thrive, and prosper only by unleashing your innate ingenuity and enterprise.

The gig economy is for everyone. The most advantaged are women because they have less to unlearn than men; and even less to learn. We have always lived and survived by our wits in the most oppressive patriarchies. We, more than men, know how to build intimate networks in intensely local neighborhoods. We will be the new entrepreneurs and winners in the gig economy, working with our wits, using our innate creativity.

The IMM senses this. If anybody can defeat the Majoritarian Male patriarch, even in the collective domain, it is women. In many parts of the world, not excluding the US, but also such unlikely places as UAE or Saudi Arabia, women graduating out of colleges outnumber men. In neighboring Pakistan, they have to reserve seats for men in medical colleges in order for them to enter college at all. We are the future.

In our bones we know freedom has to be won every day. Nobody gives it to us. Freedom for many a woman comes from the ability to pay bills, independently of the spouse. We are trained for submissiveness and dependency, but despite that, many of us today pay our own bills. And are proud of it.

India will be free if women are free

Let the Alpha male dominate the streets.

Put your head down and go to work. The amazing number of intensely localized hustles you can run is mind boggling. Explore the web.

Pinterest is a good place to begin to discover how people hustle everything for hair styling to digital stationary, pickles to pancakes, mirchi to masala .. the very spice of lives - to earn livelihoods that can often be scaled up big time. There is plenty to do, from helping children with school, to caring for the aged, from giving lessons in pottery making, to sharing insights on why prime numbers are so sparse.

Innovation is the key. Access to knowledge is virtually free. It is a matter of educating yourself and then letting your creativity run wild. That is where the future is. Unleash your curiosity, creativity, and enterprise.

When you can pay your bills, Patriarchy for the most part shrinks, shrivels, curling up like the now extinct carbon paper, and hurriedly scuttles to get out of your way. That is real freedom, and it can only be earned.

Rest assured when we do that in numbers, the majoritarian male, always a paper tiger, will slink off into obscurity from our streets, and our homes.

Resolve to be free, and India will be free as a consequence. It doesn’t work the other way round. You know that.

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