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Verve Magazine, Musings, February 2011

Women wearing the pants is passé, but now we find men holding onto their women’s pants with quiet desperation, afraid they will fly the coop even before the nest is made. Sitanshi Talati-Parikh muses on the metamorphoses of women in a liberated society

The Queen Bees of society are silent killers – men have for centuries been braggarts and women have found a way to get their own back. Who actually goes to a bachelor party expecting to get lucky and laid? The boys-trying-to-be-men come back with tall tales of passion galore, but the paunchy Indian men of the day (who need a compass in matters of orgasmic satisfaction) are hardly going to be the source of irresistible temptation to svelte Scandinavian women – unless a good deal of money is thrown their way. And if you need to pay for it, it doesn’t count. Indian women, who are generally in much better shape compared to their male counterparts, have an exciting, exotic appeal that makes a bit of harmless flirtation nothing more taxing to the purse than the bat of a mascara-ed eyelid. The PYTs of today can roam the cobbled streets of Europe kicking up a merry ruckus and returning quite the merrier. But we won’t go deep into the details – what happens at a destination bachelorette party, should be forgotten the moment you board the flight back home.

Women today are unselfconsciously raunchy, unafraid of their sexuality and are more than willing to take the leap in expressing it. As last year’s release, Aisha, suggests, gauche is out, and manipulative girl power is in. And of course, a foreign locale makes indiscretions completely acceptable – think Sex and the City 2 (2010) where Carrie steals a kiss with ex-boyfriend Aidan, in lieu of hubby Mr. Big being around. Or Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008), where straitlaced Vicky gets sorely tempted into an affair before marriage – even considering calling her wedding off. And while selling kisses for change at a Scottish bar at her hen night, Hannah in Made of Honour (2008) is left weak in the knees for her best friend, not her husband-to-be.

It’s not as much about infidelity and indecisiveness (that’s a thought for another day), as it is about choices. Where once women either didn’t have those choices, or didn’t give themselves the right to make those choices, now women are all for options. If men are like ice cream, women have the entire range of flavours to pick from. And choices that have to do with emotional involvement can get complicated, but we find it surprising that women can be quite the cold fish – unemotional about their liaisons and irreverent about the heartbreak they may leave in the wake of their decisions. A 20-something girl of my acquaintance was regularly chased after by men of all shapes and sizes. She flittered in and out of relationships, with unbelievable emotional ease, while trying to unravel the knots in her on-again, off-again relationship with her long-distance ex-boyfriend. Eventually, after years they decided to get married – and she seemed freaked out by the idea of ‘settling down’! She allowed herself, in that moment of cold feet, one last (we hope) indiscretion abroad. Her now-husband apparently understood her perfectly well and thought it would be most prudent to get it all out of her system. And this – acceptance of women’s wild oats that need to be sowed – is not uncommon in relationships today.

You can’t help but be slightly amazed at this development – since when did cold feet become a paddle ground for men and women, and decisions made on the call of these frozen extremities allow for getting your toes wet in alternate waters? Women today are afraid to take the plunge – in committed relationships, in marriages, towards motherhood…. It is the time when women want ‘space’ and ‘freedom’ to explore boundaries and create new ones, to feel free of the impositions that they have seen other women suffer for generations; and in that very experimental stage, often swing to the other end of the pendulum before slowly clawing back to level ground. At exactly what stage they decided to give themselves the same rights in indiscretion and fun that men have had for years, one can’t quite be sure, but the metamorphoses has firmly taken place and the butterflies are spreading their wings and flying the coop. Women do make up about 50 per cent of society – and realising this, they began to take liberties and make decisions for themselves, subservient to none but their own moral and possibly immoral code.

And this isn’t exactly bothering the men – while it may make them insecure and quite whipped, what turns men on is the winning combination of ‘girls gone wild’ – the hottest selling video in America of women crossing the line (what line?) at foam parties, Spring break, bachelorettes, sleepovers is of the same name. Women for the longest time have had silent power over men, in bed and out of it; it’s just the matter of wielding it, and wielding it right. There is something vicariously pleasing about women going wild, and something entirely irregular about men doing the same. Maybe it’s the fact that men have been having their slice of cheese on the side for years; or maybe it’s the bit where we don’t really give two hoots about a sausage fest in a bowl of hot soup? In fact, the best kind of woman is the naughty moral one: the delicious anomaly defined by the kind who isn’t afraid to kiss, but won’t tell and won’t cheat.

You can tame the man, but can the man tame his New Age, expressive woman? It’s the era of female domination – what existed in the echelons of the kitchen and household has moved to the bedroom and workplace. It’s not really about who wears the pants, rather who finds himself holding the skirt.