I’m the ‘ugly old spinster’

Well, I used to pride myself over my bike-riding ability. I mean, I still do. But there’s a small dent that I received some time ago. The desire to write was so strong that I am calling myself ‘ugly old spinster’ in the title itself! ๐Ÿ˜€

So, the story of the title goes like this. My friend called and I was talking to her (not knowing about the bombshell awaiting me)…..I’d promised to give her a bike ride once she comes here. And she says, she boasted about a bike-riding friend to her office-mates. She (promptly) forgot to mention my ahem……..particulars.

One of her colleagues snaps back, Oh, she must be one of those ‘ugly old spinsters’ who know nothing better than to assert themselves in this way!

I think my friend never realized the effect of what she told me had on me. As usual, I was set to thinking. What kind of a typecasting was THIS? I mean, I don’t think I am UGLY (well, I know some people may disagree but then, BOYS, I have an opinion of myself, come on), I certainly am not OLD (going by the way OLD was meant by my friend’s office-mate) and spinster? Well, I have every intention of marrying (the planning has been done right till the colour of pattern on my sandals for my wedding :D), so technically I’m not a spinster!

But the point really goes beyond ME! It’s about the generalizing the ‘type’ of women who’ll resort to biking! So, biking is such a MEN’s thing that WOMEN (in the traditional sense of the word) can’t take to it? Only the women who are ‘good for nothing else’ can take to it? I mean, what IS the big deal about biking? And for that matter, anything that has been men’s ‘domain’ for a long time? And what DEFINES what’s men’s domain? (I know Sujit will disagree with me here but then, Sujit, you’re one of the rare types who treat women as absolute equals)……….I know I may sound like a feminist but I’m not. I’m an ‘equalist’, if you may! I don’t believe in what’s called women’s domain and men’s domain!

In my opinion, everyone (regardless of their gender) is capable of doing everything (may not be to equal degrees of finesse). It’s not that men can’t cook well (some of world’s best cooks are men, remember Cheeni Kum?) and that women always cook well (I know many who can’t cook for nuts). It’s not that men can always do the physically strenuous jobs (I know a few who’ve fainted at the slightest exertion) and that women are always delicate (some of my Mechanical Engineering friends are better in Lab-work than their male counterparts)……….

So, what was this thing about ‘ugly old spinster’? A male responding to a female’s intrusion into the male domain? Or the gender stereotypes men have created (or maybe women have created for themselves?)……….

Enlightenment welcome!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  1. Parvathy said,

    August 19, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Guess, these incidents do get our minds thinking. Unfortunately, we are all creatures of habit. We seem to be so uni-dimensional in our thoughts that we aren’t easily willing to accommodate for offline behaviors. It’s sad indeed. This thought can be extended to issues related to ‘love marriage’ for instance. Others end up thinking of if a person has to fall in love, either he/she has always had that rebellious streak about them since childhood and that such a behavior was always expected, or love comes cheaply to people. Such blind parochial view and opinions should be shunned out.

  2. Ananth said,

    August 20, 2007 at 1:03 am

    I guess we all tend to stereotype people in some sphere of life or the other. I guess just as it is human nature to have all kinds in it, its human nature to sterotype as well. So there are bound to be a majority of people doing a particular thing, and so typecasting and stereotyping does come in to picture. So, when you say that a guy who said something about the ugly spinster has something against girls ridng bikes, that may be a kind of stereotyping too? Ain’t it?

  3. Sujit Kumar Chakrabarti said,

    August 20, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Hi. Saying such a thing is indeed unbecoming of the person. That’s given. Not arguing about that. Perhaps, partial discount can be afforded depending on the circle in which it was said. People have been seen doing some bit of loose talk among close friends. Well, personally, I don’t like that either.

    Nevertheless, I have an explanation for that response (mind the distinction between ‘explanation’ and ‘justification’). The other day, I was telling a very good friend (a girl) of mine about another friend of mine (a guy) who was feeling nervous or something at a particular moment of stress. I gave him an affectionate hug. He felt good. And he told me that later. I was talking about that guy’s sensitive nature and all that, in a perfectly laudatory sense. What I received from that lady was a flinch. She didn’t quite appreciate that very feminine behaviour from a guy. You requiring a hug to get over your nervousness or whatever. Somewhat wierd if you are a guy. I mean, she perfectly understood the point I made about the sensitivity of that guy (and his resulting knack in poetry etc.). But, still, her first reaction was a flinch.

    Please don’t expect me to criticise that reaction of my lady-friend. I feel that it’s a perfectly natural reaction. And I acknowledge that, when, moments later, she also expressed her understanding of what I was trying to convey, that was equally authentic. The former reaction came out of her biological instincts, the later came out of her intellect. Intellect takes a few moments to set into action; biology speaks immediately.

    Here’s another example: A guy marvelling at the beauty of flowers, plucking them on the way, saying ‘choo chweet’ at the sight of every kid, puppy or kitten; who is tearful at the thought of grief and misery, is unlikely to be liked as a ‘guy’. He may pass off as a great, tender hearted person. But not as a guy. The qualities he shows are great qualities, and make him a good person. But those qualities have something biologically feminine about them. They don’t give him credits as a male.

    We are biologically wired to biologically appreciate certain biological things in the opposite sex. In a single word, the cardinal male quality is ‘power’; the cardinal female quality is ‘tenderness’ (not lack of strength, I am telling ‘tenderness’). Our intellect allows us to look at each other as people, even those of the opposite sex, with true appreciation. And we learn to genuinely appreciate people-like qualities in them: good nature, intelligence, kindness, honesty, simplicity, fitness, etc. Often, we go even beyond that. Certain sophisticated members of one sex may still appreciate the people of the other sex excelling in things which culturally (which can often be traced back to biological tendencies) belonged to their own sex hitherto. There are guys who appreciate you genuinely for riding a bike, for being such a go-getter, for being such a terrific researcher, for being so much better than they might be. But they do it as people. Not as a guy admiring a girl. When a male is looking ‘as a male’ for something to admire in a female, he will look for qualities which, for him, exemplify feminine qualities. From person to person, they could range from a curvaceous figure, to a tender nature with tonnes of affection, love and caringness (for me, both figure ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

    Our intelligence is always at war with our biology. It’s meaningless to think that one is more fundamental than the other. But undeniably, they keep wrestling all the time. Sometimes, biology dominates and sometimes intellect does.

    I think, that gives enough food to chew upon. I won’t churn any further. To end, here are some additional points:

    – If I look at your writing a couple of years ago, and now, I see such a large difference. A year or two ago, I feel, this ‘chauvinistic’ reaction from that guy would have flared you up and you would have been out on the roads with banners declaring your rights to equality and riding bikes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Now, you have gone back, tried to analyse the matter, and have put down your thoughts is a calm and thoughtful tone. You have become so much more mature, capable and effective than before. My compliments!
    – You are slightly mistaken in thinking that I consider men and women as equal. No, I emphatically don’t. I feel that there are certain things which distinguish a man from a women, and are yet beautiful. I find it beautiful when a guy holds the door to his lady. It’s not a condescending behaviour. It’s an ode to the feminine tenderness. I find it beautiful when a woman doesn’t always bare her claws and fangs at every call for combat, but, by the virtue of her one moment’s feminine restraints, opens doors to diplomacy and reconciliation. I feel it’s beautiful when a man hides his own inner fears and frailty to fight for and to protect his family; and I find it beautiful when a woman shows her strength, not through aggression and ferocity, but by channelising that to acts of tenderness and love.
    – Purchase at least one product from Philips. Going by the time I spent on writing this reply, all in company time, it must have cost some considerable money to Philips. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And please don’t tell them, I did so! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. SHAMIT said,

    August 20, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    For the average aam-junta, a lady vrooming around on a bike, is largely unthinkable; so you’ll get to hear those ‘compliments’ … ๐Ÿ˜‰
    In most cases, people find it a bit too difficult to redefine their mental maps, or to let go off their gender biases. Do note, victims can be on either side. I remember the other day having a debate on the colour pink/red/orange being a female colour choice for mobiles. People just cannot accept something slightly out-of-the-ordinary. To a large extent, in the current generation, advertising also plays a role in typefying and a vox populi, ‘mass-think’ pervades all over, even among the educated. It all seems so foolish at times …

  5. Mohan said,

    September 13, 2007 at 4:09 pm

    Hey, i would say it is a good complement. As they say, somebody being jealous or envious of one of your talents is a very good compliment indeed. Some scum in society, either do not know, or do not care to give a proper complement.

    I for one, am very jealous of your artistic skills. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You are a amazing artist and now i am beginning to learn that you are a wonderful blogger too.

  6. Pritesh said,

    September 14, 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks a lot Shalu…………you flatter me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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