Photo by Khaled Reese:

Do you ever imagine what the world would look like without men? Most people will have different answers to this question, but the women’s response might be revolting. Some women will say that the world will be a lot safer without men, while some will agree with the fact that men are also an essential part of human progress. The debate seems relentless, and no definite answer can be asserted. But you might concede with most of the arguments that are put forth without blaming anyone. The women who think that the world will be much better without the men in it are generally those who have experienced some kind of perturbed situation where they felt unsafe, especially around their counterparts. A fitting example would be the one where one of my female classmates in high school faced such a distressing situation. We used to commute together to our school via public bus. My stoppage was before hers, so I used to get down beforehand. One day, while traveling to our respective stoppages, we were on the bus chatting about our day’s events. Some five to six boys, whom we didn’t know, got on the bus. Of course, the bus was crowded and many people were getting on and off the bus, so it didn’t matter then. However, this group of boys stood at the exit door and made it difficult for the passengers to get down from the bus. Most people were annoyed but couldn’t say anything since the seats were already full. As my stoppage came closer, I stood up and somehow managed to squeeze through the crowd. After getting down, I waved at my friend and went home. The next day, my friend didn’t come to school, which was unusual as she was a punctual student. So I called her up to see if she was okay, and she told me about the horrific event that had occurred after I got off the bus the other day. When my friend stood up to get down on her stoppage, she thought she would be able to squeeze her way out of the crowded bus too. But as she reached for the exit door, she got stuck between the group of boys, and to her dismay, one of them started to grope her inappropriately. She was appalled and panic-struck at what was happening. And without deciphering further, she threw herself out of the open door. The good part was the bus had halted to stop, but she did twist her ankle. Yet the pain from the fall didn’t stop her to look back at the faces of those boys when the bus started to move again. She saw three of them waving at her with big smirks. When she told her parents about the incident, her parents came to an agreement that they will use their car to drop and pick her up from school. Not only did I lose a good companion for the ride, but it also gave me paranoia about checking every face that shares a bus ride with me. And this is one of the examples of many similar incidents around the world. 

There have been several books written on how the world will be without men in it. Some of the intriguing ones like “Invisible women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men” by Caroline Criado-Perez and “The Female Man” by Joanna Russ talk about how the world would be so different without men taking over and leaving nothing for women to explore. The hatred for men in some women was not prevalent from birth, it was some of the experiences they faced at the hands of men that changed their outlook. And not just sexual assaults, patriarchal practices have made it normal for men to enjoy more privileges than women to date. One of which is a common phenomenon in the professional world that results in men getting better pay than women. And this war of equal remuneration has been an ongoing tussle worldwide, where the more qualified women are paid less than the average man. Do you agree with this bigotry? But to be fair, without men in this world, life would not be as trouble-free as you imagine. Growing up without men in our lives would make us more reckless and leave us unsupervised. This can be explained with an example of one of the families in my neighborhood. 

This family comprised of a husband and a wife, who had shifted to our neighborhood recently. The wife was pregnant at that time and soon gave birth to a little girl. Everybody in the neighborhood went to their house to greet and congratulate them. I visited their house often to play with the baby and the new parents didn’t mind it. My mom used to remind me to be gentle with the baby as I might hurt it, which was surely not my intention. I just needed a playmate as there were no other children in the neighborhood. So the days passed on for two years as I watched the baby girl grow. But disaster struck one day when the husband died in a road accident. The mother was inconsolable and kept on shedding tears while asking the same question, “How will I raise our child without you?” I kept on staring at the baby who didn’t even know what was happening. But as they say, life goes on. And for this mother and daughter duo life did move on. She took up a job to feed herself and her daughter. My mom used to provide lunch to the small kid when her mother was running late to come home in the afternoon. She was thankful to my mom and other friendly neighbors who helped her with trivial acts of kindness. As it seemed like their life was finally on track, I noticed some changes in the daughter. I was three years older than her, and at the mere age of twelve, she would behave like a sixteen-year-old. She stopped having lunch at our house saying that she will manage on her own. She didn’t talk to me in school anymore and evaded confrontation, so I let her be. She mostly liked to be surrounded by boys and behaved like them too. Once I saw her teasing a girl who was hardly a year younger than her along with some other boys. One day as school was over, her class teacher called me in. When I went inside the class, I saw my neighbor’s daughter sitting with her head down along with some boys. The teacher told me that she caught this group smoking inside the class. She was furious of course but didn’t want to call up her mother as she knew she was working hard to provide for the family. So she told me to talk with the girl as she knew they lived in my neighborhood. I was at my wit’s end as I didn’t know what to do. How to stop someone from doing something when I am learning myself? I asked her to walk with me home and she took her bag and started walking briskly. As we reached our respective homes, I thought she might be hungry. I served a plate of food and took it to her house across the street. She opened the door and gave me an annoyed look, but when I showed her the food she let me in. I was sitting there watching her eat like a homeless person while also trying to find words to say to her. Finally, I asked her why she was behaving like those reckless boys and not being a sincere daughter to her only mother. She didn’t answer me but kept stuffing her mouth full and did not reply. After asking several such questions, she finally snapped and started to yell at me. “Who do you think you are, my mother? She doesn’t care about me. She only cares about her job and dressing up and going to her ‘fancy’ office. Everybody says that she works hard, who does she work hard for? She doesn’t even have time to cook meals for me. I hate going to your house for food and seeing your dad talking and asking you about school and what you want. Nobody asks me that. I don’t even have a dad. Who gave me the responsibility to be the ‘good’ daughter? I didn’t ask for it. I hate it here and hate everyone!” As she finished and turned to walk out of the room, her mother was standing in the doorway listening with wide eyes. I had seen her standing there when she started her ordeal but didn’t dare to interrupt. Her mother was teary-eyed and as the daughter was about to say something the mother raised her hand to stop her. She took her purse and went out of the door without saying a single word. The daughter ran after her but her mother was gone. I was standing outside the door recollecting what I just witnessed. She came back frantically and started to look for her phone and murmuring, “What have I done? I made my mother cry. I am such a bad daughter!” I ran to my house and told my parents about what had happened. My mom feared the worst that the mother had abandoned her daughter. Suddenly her mobile phone started ringing, which almost made her jump in her seat. She looked at the phone and saw it was the mother calling. After talking to her sometime, she asked me to call the daughter at our house. I did as I was told, and my mom informed her that her mother has asked her to stay at our house for the night. She was asking all sorts of questions but my mom said that she will be back in the morning. After the restless night, the mother came early morning to our house asking for her daughter. When she saw her mother, she ran and gave her a tight hug. Her mother thanked my mom and took her away. I don’t know to this day what they discussed but soon the mother-daughter duo left the house and moved away to another city. But I did get to know later on that the mother got married again and the daughter got the father figure that she always wished for. 

You might have witnessed men, be it a father, a brother, a husband, a boyfriend, male friends, or even a friendly neighborhood guy, who will always assist you whenever asked. They are just named differently. Men can reveal a different perspective on a problem that can be difficult to fathom for us. There are times when we seek guidance from these men in our lives, and they do their best to help us in every way possible. Few girls prefer guys over girls to be their friends as they believe they can count on them for support. Like the time when I asked a male friend of mine to pick me up from a friend’s house at a late hour as I wasn’t getting any network services to book an Uber. He was kind enough to come to my rescue and dropped me off safely at my house. The truth is that the delinquent nature of men depends on their nurture and the environment they grow up in. So you cannot blame a single-gender for all the misconduct in the world. Although, the world would be a lot different without men in it. What’s your take on this theory?

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