What made me cringe?

My parents had been on a vacation to place X, in India (through an agency that conducts group tours) with my Dad’s school-friends and their wives and other families they didn’t know.

 My mom told me they were having a lot of fun with all the sightseeing and with all the jokes going around in their core group.

 There were some young girls, about 21 years of age, about whom my Dad’s friends joked. These jokes were flirtatious in nature. E.g. they would say, we want this side of the table so that we could get the “view” (view to see young girls). The rest of this core group (including my mom and the other wives) encouraged this silliness by laughing at such statements and the other wives were like, “We are so sure of our husbands. This is all fake, they will come back to us, eventually”

The young girls were, of course, oblivious to all this.

This did not go too well with me. What made me cringe?

1.       Is it because I felt the married men were behaving like single ones with no respect to their own marital status?

2.       Is it because the wives were not offended by their husbands’ behavior of openly showing attraction to other women?

3.       Is it because though men looked at the young girls, the women did NOT look at the young or old or any guy, perpetuating the ‘virility of man, virtue of woman’ stereotype?

4.       Is it because unmarried women were being the butt of jokes (or open admiration), and it reflected the Indian men mentality of “Single? Line maro. Married? Bhabhi samjho”?

5.       Is it because old men were admiring young girls younger than their own daughters (and not women their age), perpetuating that attractiveness is based on woman’s age while man’s age doesn’t matter?

6.       Is it because I felt that when women encourage such comments from men, they propagate a culture of “Boys will be boys” that eventually leads to everyone dismissing serious crimes like Eve-teasing as something silly?

Well, I think it is 3, 4, 5 and 6. I would have considered this behavior as a fair joke if the wives had said, “You don’t stand a chance with them. I might stand a chance with that hot and young/old guy, though”.

Would this situation make you cringe? Or would you just dismiss it?

[Updated]- Were you comfortable when Amitabh, a widower in the movie, was shown as playboy “Sexy Sam” in Kabhie Alvida Naa Kehna, whereas Kirron Kher, a widow, was shown as the “nice mom next door”? When her son (Shah Rukh) sees her with Amitabh bachchan, he freaks out. Why? Wasn’t she single too?

-Were you comfortable when Reema and Alok Nath, as samdhi-samdhan, innocuously “flirted” in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Koun? (I remember my Dad was very uncomfortable with those scenes, whereas my mom and I were giggling. I can’t believe I loved HAHK then)

-Were you comfortable when Karan Johar asked Anil Kapoor in the talk-show “Koffee with Karan” to rate the actresses based on sex appeal, when all the actresses were his daughter, Sonam’s age? (Then he asked Sanjay Dutt the same question. In all other episodes, Sonam was always a candidate to be rated. But because Anil Kapoor was also on the hot-seat, Sonam was excluded from Sanjay’s question.)

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22 Responses to What made me cringe?

  1. Definitely cringe. I might casually point out that … Can’t think of what I might actually say, but all that I might want to but probably wouldn’t.

  2. Sruti says:

    Definitely cringe!!

  3. This is embarrassing.
    I never behaved that way at any younger age so far and can’t think of it now.
    But I admit this behaviour is not uncommon among middle aged men.
    Even today, I have rogue male friends of my age group who make me squirm in my chair when they send me “naughty” pictures plucked out the red light areas of cyberspace which they think I will enjoy ogling.
    I have to tell them to spare me and keep me out of their “email forwarding friend list” and convince them that I don’t have the appetite for these pictures any more.
    Neither do I indulge in the kind of banter that your Dad’s friends indulged in.
    The closest I have come to age inappropriate behaviour is to sit and watch the Miss World beauty contests on TV and also appoint myself as another judge and make my own selection)
    My wife would be amused but she did not disapprove.
    (Guess what: I picked Aishwarya Rai as the winner long before the judges announced the results! As long as our girls were winning, I used to watch the proceedings. Now I have lost interest in these contests)

    I have friends who, when their wives are not around indulge in some occasional “naughty” talk in the belief that I will find them entertaining.
    In most cases these are harmless and one friend assured me that he wasn’t really naughty after all and told me he was merely joking and told me “GV, at our age this is all we can do, isn’t it, I mean joke about it. Do we have the capacity to actually be naughty?”
    I believed him till the ND Tiwari scandal hit the headlines.
    When I discussed that affair with another friend he candidly admitted that there is no fixed age for males to outgrow “physical” interest in the female sex and that Bill Clinton and ND Tiwari were shining examples.
    I agree with him.

    • This puts me off on so many levels.

      The thought of a man old enough to be my father ogling at women almost half my age is beyond creepy.

      Perhaps it’s because I’ve never seen my father, uncles or even their friends indulge in such “harmless” humour. Perhaps they do it when the women aren’t around, who knows?

      I’m not surprised that the wives did not disapprove though.

      Women of my mother’s generation believed, or pretended to believe, that sex was a masculine preserve. Sex was a masculine right, and a feminine duty.

      Men were allowed their occassional (or frequent) indescretions, whereas women had (have) impossibly high standards of chastity to live up to.

      I’ll bet that many of these men would be miffed if they saw their wives ogling at a naked Ranbir Kapoor in Sawariya.

      When will Indians accept that older women find younger men attractive? Women are attracted by male beauty just as men are attracted to female beauty.

      Duh, it’s biology.

      STF, a personal question. Were you creeped out by the thought of your father being a part of this “dirty old men’s” club? Of course, you needn’t answer.

      I would have been upset, but of course, would’ve kept mum. I would not have known what to do, to be honest.

      • BIW, the first thing that I did after reading this, was look up Ranbir Kapoor in Sawariya 😉

        When my mom told me about my Dad’s friends joking and calling themselves Pran and Ashok Kumar of Victoria 203, I was really angry. I told her, tell this to Dad: “Now I know when I enter the room of middle-aged leads in my company, why they give each other mysterious smiles”.

        I was more mad at my Mom than my Dad. My Dad never makes such comments, but my mom has always teased him about light-eyed women. My Dad blushes at my mom’s remarks and asks her to stop her “non-sense”. My mom never talks about any handsome hunks and I know my Dad wouldn’t appreciate it AT ALL. (That reminds me of a story I can post)

        Now that I think from my perspective, if I meet my old very close school friends at the age of 65, we could be talking about men. But I won’t be comfortable doing that stuff with any other women at any age.

        • He, he. :))

          Your reply reminded me of an incident that happened at a traffic light a few years ago.

          There was a fifty-ish looking woman sitting in the back of a car with two kids (grandkids?).

          I was waiting for the light to turn green and idly turned my head to watch the other cars.

          I saw this woman eyeing (ogling) a rather well-built young Caucasian man as he crossed the street. She thought she was unobserved since she was sitting behind the driver.

          It was the first time I’d seen undisguised admiration for the male forn on an Indian woman’s face and it really made me smile.

          Whoever said that older Indian women are sexless angels with no ability to appreciate male beauty?

    • GVji, even your most inappropriate behaviour is so decent!!!

      Like your friend said, “all you can do is joke about it” makes sense. Those who actually are naughty (like Bill and Tiwari), hardly joke about it. Brag maybe, but not joke.

      • Now that I am assured that my picking Ash and my enjoyment of the Miss World contests during the nineties was not all that “age inappropriate”‘ let me make another confession or rather a boast.

        I first saw Madhuri Dixit’s face on some poster or magazine or on TV, sometime around 1985 or 1986 when she was a nobody.
        I remember telling my wife ” here is the face of another Superstar, the next Hema Malini/Sridevi.”

        My wife didn’t take me too seriously.
        Tezaab was released soon after (1988?, not sure) and that song Ek Do, Teen catapulted her to the top, and if Youtube and the internet had existed, we would have had another Kolaveri Di phenomenon.

        Just as this Kolaveri song instantly taught at least two Tamil words to the whole country, I used to claim that Madhuri and that ek do teen song taught the whole of the Tamil population in just a few minutes, how to count from 1 to 13 in Hindi, something that dull Hindi school texts and teachers had failed to do all these years.

        I was 25 years younger then and even today I am a great fan of hers.
        I don’t blame MF Husain for going gaga over her.
        Thank God he didn’t paint her the way he painted Indian female deities!

        • GVji, you sure have an eye for beauty! Your wife is very beautiful too! (I think I saw her pic when you sent CynicallyEngineered the link of your love-story that involved a monkey-act.) Could you send that link again? It was really amusing.

  4. Here you are!
    The first is the original guest posting of mine at IHM’s blog. (I don’t have a blog of my own)
    The second is my response to all the comments received.



    This blog was my own translation of my original guest blog post written in Hindi, sometime in 2008 and hosted by my friend Anita Kumar at her blog site. IHM had read it and I translated it into English at IHM’s invitation.

    I have entertained countless friends and relatives with an oral narration of this story.
    Please don’t take it too seriously!
    While the basic facts are as stated, I have spiced it up liberally to improve entertaintment value for the reader.

  5. KMKH says:

    Hi, wanted to let you know I enjoy reading your blog and think you’re a versatile blogger. Drop by my blog to collect the tag.

  6. Nova says:

    Hmmmm… interesting!! Very very interesting… It actually made me sit back and take notice…

    I know if I saw people my parents age do something like this, I would cringe!
    I used to cringe and still do if married couples get physically close (too close if you ask me) to each other… like my jijaji flirting with my chachi and holding her too close
    I even get very uncomfortable when my husband’s cousins talk about their “bhabhis” in a sexual sort of a way, so much so that I have told a few of them off (in a nice way though!!)
    And yes, I was extremely uncomfortable when Reema and Alok Nath, as samdhi-samdhan, innocuously ”flirted” in the movie Hum Aapke Hain Koun!!! I had gone red in the face!!

    However, with that, I have to say that there is a fine line in what is funny and what is unacceptable… For instance, guys (and I mean all ages) like noticing women (all ages!). If they appreciate a good looking woman and say “wow you look good”, nothing wrong in that.. but if they start ogling at her and making her uncomfortable, that is UNACCEPTABLE!! Trust me, all guys notice… and a passing glance is not harmful…

  7. KMKH says:

    hi, paste the badge from my blog to yours. and fulfil the rules of the award (nominate 15 bloggers, random things about yourself, etc)

  8. shail says:

    I have noticed this phenomenon, how women joke to their husbands about their men’s attraction for other women, but they never do so (or cannot do so) about themselves and their attraction for men other than the husband. I don’t think they may say (in majority of cases) that they find someone attractive or appealing unless it is a movie start or cricketer perhaps. No one from real life. Very few men are able to digest that.
    Do I cringe? Yes of course, big time. When I see the women (wives) giggle and seem to encourage this behavior of their husbands. Perhaps they think by doing that they can “keep” their men to themselves. Otherwise how can any self-respecting female accept such behavior?
    I don’t mind older men joking or making a fool of themselves per se. That’s all relative. BUT I object that the men deny the same freedom to the women (wives). They expect the wives to accept their own behavior and the wives also accept that expectation. WTH.
    I abhor the concept, “”They will eventually come back to us” on the part of many Indian wives. WHO the hell wants such men who “eventually” come back? Surely not a self-respecting woman? I know someone (man) who told his lover that, “Anju-Manju to aate rahenge. Lekin you are forever.” Really? Is the girlfriend supposed to feel proud because His Highness said he will always come back to her? What if she had said the same in return?! I can’t believe she is still with him.

  9. vyshnavi says:

    Thank you for writing it, I have clicked and shared via facebook. I think it is especially #5 which annoys me so much.

    It is not merely age but in other aspects also that I feel men have a similar attitude. For example, I see older men looking for brides 10 years younger than them, overweight men commenting on women who aren’t “slim and slender”, and divorced men insisting on virgin wives. There is such a double standard in their attitudes!
    I would be curious to know how these men would react if the women in the group were eyeing men 😛

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