I’m having chai at my favourite chai stall. It’s early morning, sun is still kind, softly touching my skin, streets still empty, people paying by slowly. There are only the regulars sitting here. Yes, I’m considered a regular now. This is the place I visit for different reasons but the main one is for the interesting conversations in most likely to have here.
It’s easy to get involved in a conversation in India but especially at this chai stall. People love talking to each other, discussing different issues, so they just join in.
But today I choose to just listen. I listen to two men just around my age talking about women. It’s interesting to listen to since I happen to be a woman.
Women are physically weak and mentally strong. So if they want something done they will manipulate you, he says.
This is something I have heard being said by meme a lot of times. To many men this seems to be a truth, almost religious. Never trust a woman because she will manipulate you or trick you.
It has of course nothing to do with the man himself. He is innocent, a victim, he is being manipulated. He says this without taking the time for self reflection.
The reason I chose not to get involved in this conversation is the simple fact that he doesn’t listen. He is delivering a monologue. Women, he says, you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. And the only thing I hear is bitterness. Bitterness eating him from the inside.
If you want to evolve you have to listen to what other people are saying and perform some self reflection. And that is the most difficult part in being a human. Self reflection means we are not only to acknowledge when we are right but also when we are wrong. And we are often wrong for the simple reason that we are humans and humans are not perfect. It is not about putting blame on ourselves, it is about reflecting how we can do better.
My first and only conversation I had with this man ended when he started being rude. I chose to laugh at it and told him I would buy him a chai. Chai is always calming. He told me I should buy a poor person a chai instead since he was rich and could pay for his own chai. Still he drank it.
The interesting part in this is that every day I see women carrying heavy loads on their heads. Loads of grass they have gone far to pick and bring back to their cattle. This they do twice a day. Apart from that they carry water, do laundry by hand, collect and carry wood to make a fire so they can cook. All those physically demanding chores most housewives do. Every day. Things he probably never reflected on.
The interesting part in this is that men who say those things feel threatened by intelligent women who can speak up for themselves and know what they are talking about. And instead of self reflection they attack. When they fail in their attempt to be right they feel manipulated.
No, nothing of what I have written so far is applicable to all men or all women. I am generalizing. I am aware of that. So to all the self reflecting men out there I want to say Don’t take it personally. But when you overhear a conversation like this, please react, take a stand.
Mental strength is not about using it for manipulation. Mental strength is about knowing when to leave.