I opened a thesaurus of quotations on the page titled ‘women’ and found “also see, charm, cosmetics, dress, fashion, femininity, Mirrors and Perfume” and under ‘men’ it said, “see also Gentlemen, Masculinity and Women”!! Now, I’m not one of those militant libbers who feel terribly offended when a woman is called ‘Eve’ or ‘weaker sex’. But I’m all for justice and fair play, and the list of associated subjects with the word woman do not do justice to her or the one on man to him!
Let’s tackle this dispassionately without getting overly sensitive. Charm I agree is a purely feminine attribute as men have been left out by nature while distributing this asset. A man can be a flirt, a lady-killer, a glib talker – but charming? No sir, - that’s a woman’s monopoly. But there ends the discrimination.
Going on to the next – cosmetics. At one time (perhaps when the first edition of the book came out!) only women used them but today, with the Boy George trend catching fast, eye shadow, lipstick and pink cheeks are favoured by men too. More men go for facials and manicures today than they shaved at one time.
Dress – both men and women are equally conscious of what they wear and devote a great deal of attention to it. Instead of boutiques being called ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ you now have ‘Theirs’ – where you get clothes that can be worn by men and women. In the same vein, fashion too is the prerogative of both sexes. The Michael Jackson look of a shiny glove and jacket, the macho cut- away sleeves and shirt, are as much a part of fashion as anything found in a woman’s list.
Why, tell me, should mirrors and perfume find prime position only in a woman’s lexicon? Men also douse themselves with strong - smelling after-shave, before-shave and between- shave lotions and preen and strut before the mirror. True, they don’t carry around small pocket-sized mirrors as women do, but that doesn’t make the association any less important.
The question that bothers me is why the compilers of the book overlooked adding ‘lady’ to the list under ‘women’ as they have written ‘gentlemen’ under ‘men’? This is where I want to assert my militancy and point out the unfair treatment meted out to women. It’s not a question of equal opportunity or equal pay or anything complicated as these that I’m protesting against. It’s the fundamentals – call a spade a spade whatever metal it is made of.
If you have 20 jokes on mother-in-law, have an equal number on father-in-law. Under ‘mother’ if you write “see nappy, bottle, cereal, bowl”, have the same under ‘Father’. It’s high time these differences were sorted out. Publishers will be happy as the size of a thesaurus will considerably reduce and the libbers can then turn their attention to fighting more important issues like why women should adopt the father’s surname or why application forms ask for father’s name or husband’s name and never mother’s name and wife’s name.