I take a share auto from my office to the Railway Station. For those of you who don’t know what a share auto is, it is a system whereby you sit in a 3 seater auto with 2 other random people because you all happen to have the same destination. A primitive carpool of sorts; with strangers.
I spend at least 10 minutes of my day waiting for a share auto. During peak hours, even 15 minutes. This gives me ample time to people gaze and I have observed a certain thing that has been pricking the back of my head for a while.
Getting a seat in a share auto is basically survival of the fittest. You have 30 odd people standing in no particular order or queue. When an auto comes, one has to push their way in or else you are left waiting for hours together. Also, we must remember that Indian auto drivers are very picky about where they cruise their Hayabusas’, and a majority of the time, railway stations are their least favorite.
Now that you have a vague picture of what the scenario is ( high demand, no supply), it so happens that the women waiting are at a loss, as they lose to the physically stronger and over smart men waiting around with them. In this entirely depressing scenario, there are a few angelic auto drivers who come around only for the women. They call themselves the “Ladies Special”.
Now, I have a whole lot of problems with this situation. Firstly, if women like me believe in equal rights, why do we encourage such favoritism? When I happily get into such autos and spite all the men who shoved me aside, am I indirectly implying that women need to be mollycoddled to survive in this world?
Yesterday, when I got to the auto stand, there happened to be 3 men already standing there. I was pretty sure they would fight their way into the next auto, but the “Ladies Special” ones came by and I got to go in first. After sitting, I realized how unjust this was to those men. I did not get down, but I saw a glint of loath in their eyes.
When we women encourage such treatment, how do we expect equal rights? We love being at the receiving end of such favoritism, yet hate it when men get away with “I am a man, so I can” behavior. A bunch of hypocrites, are we?
Equal rights are utopian. Casual sexism is so deeply rooted in our daily actions, mechanisms, and mannerisms, it’s scary. How did we get here and how are we ever going to get out?
Will I give up the offer next time to prove that we don’t need to be pitied for our lack of strength and stand put waiting for a nonsexist auto driver to come my way? Will men stop feeling the need to prove their macho-ness at this point with this gesture of mine? Maybe not. Definitely not in fact.
I’d, however, like to point out that amidst all of this, I have witnessed some of the most humane people during these episodes. Men who make way for pregnant women, women who have elbowed over- smart men and allowed others in, people who actually follow the first come first serve rule and people who make way for the elderly. Such people restore my faith in humanity, all alike. Seeing them I quickly mumble a prayer to god, to produce more of the concoct that creates such human beings. Apart from doing your bit to improve the situation, I guess that’s all one can do, eh?