Monday, 27 April 2015

The Politics of Friendship

There is a question or should I perhaps call it a dilemma, about friendship. And it’s not about two genders, but three.

The problem of what ‘type’ of friends we should and should not cultivate has been a question that is perhaps addressed in every household at one time or another in childhood, teen years and sometimes even adulthood.

Usually these questions revolve around bad influences and those few from shady backgrounds or different cultures. But whether one can have friends from the other two genders is rarely discussed. It is simply understood that persons of those category are out of bounds. That discussion is supposedly purely adult talk and taboo for the same people whose choices are being determined. Funny country!

Personally experiencing ridicule in school because of casual conversations with girls, I learned that along with society in general, even the education system is in denial that there is actually a problem of communication between genders. This gap is sometimes also encouraged through ridicule, excommunication from the peer group and marginalization from the opposite gender.

Image Courtesy: Google Images/extension.org.

These deliberate gender-distancing tactics have, I have realized, long lasting effects on the psyche. Talking just about males and females: Men may grow up to be indifferent, hostile and inconsiderate towards women. Women may grow up to be paranoid, disgusted and perhaps even leery of men.

If not given a chance to understand the dynamics of different genders by mingling, problems are likely to develop in a society that has the misfortune to be the one where such individuals grow up. The blinders put on them as kids are likely to stay on forever, the conditioning of a lifetime giving an extremely skewed vision and a closed mindset.

Perhaps this is what has happened to the people of the third gender. Avoided, shunned and “protected” from them, the rest of society treats them as sub-humans. Marginalized by the society that they should have been accepted into as normally as any other person, the people of the third gender have had to fight a long and arduous battle for the most fundamental rights. And even though the Indian government has accepted them as part of society, there is possibly a long road ahead of them trying to be part of society in this country.

This is the politics of the society we have been born into. Something as fundamental as friendship can also be the reason for discord. It makes one realize the potential for division within us.