Now, that we have that out of the way.
Chuski Pop is a podcast I was introduced to a couple of months ago. It is hosted by Sweety and Pappu and it is about all things desi, feminist, existential, happening, and even sexual. It’s one of the three podcasts I listen to on an irregular basis. The thing I love about Chuski Pop is the unrestrained manner in which the girls talk about their love lives and the men they date. Sweety has a steady boyfriend and Pappu is just mingling on the dating scene as of the latest podcast. Among other things, the girls discuss their dates, their preferences in men, and are even open about physical intimacy. When I was listening to an episode in which Pappu describes her latest date, I became acutely aware of how I can’t recall the last time I met someone with the undertones and possibility of dating and romance. These two lovely women, who are universal desi girlfriends, have pointed out to me a gaping hole in my life — the absence of men I can be romantically inclined towards. To me, it went off like the voice of realisation in my head. You can date, it said. Oh okay, I said.
Since then, I spent some of my time wondering about men and began to “look around” (whatever that means). Here is what my brain did instead. I found myself wondering why enough isn’t written about the “female gaze”. I mean that in the most sexualising and objectifying manner in which the “male gaze” works. I don’t know if there is a defined “female gaze” and if there is one, I am yet to arrive at that party. It isn’t as if women don’t talk about men. Chuski Pop is proof and sample of how women talk about men. Not to say that they speak about men as objects, but listening to them discuss men as people to be casually dated (instead of unconditionally loved) once they check off certain boxes has made me realise the need for the female gaze. It is not commonplace for women to talk about men how his mouth looks delicious, he’s filled out just right, how he’s what we’d like to tap, what he would look like naked, or anything just as explicit. Unless, of course, we’re talking about men on screen. I don’t see why objectifying men must resort to the photoshopped and chiselled celebrities; to the men who are in showbiz and it is in their job description to look good. It bothers me how women have allowed the possibility of objectification of men to just pass by us.
I do realise that this is largely because men are not conditioned to work hard on their appearances unlike women are so what’s there to gawk at? Really now. Additionally, it is also because women are conditioned to downplay their sexuality. A prospective wife must be beautiful. A prospective husband must be rich. No matter that this prospective husband is balding, obese, and has no sense of dressing. It is acceptable for a woman to be measured by her appearance and a man by his achievements. I personally know men who want to date good looking women and want beautiful wives. I know girlfriends who describe their love interests as hardworking, kind, sorted, treats-me-well. Nobody says “Oh, yes, and he’s got a really big penis and knows how to use it.” Nope. No girl says that. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against balding, obese men. In fact, when I described my latest crush to a friend, I said, “He’s adorable, he’s cute, and he is so funny.” The friend said to me, “You’re not objectifying him.” Because I am not. When, in fact, if you think about it, he is greying, his tooth is crooked, and he could seriously do with a better pair of jeans. I haven’t been taught by society how to objectify a man. So, my crush gets put on this shelf of men who score points just by way of being who he is as perceived by me. He does not have an added baggage of living up to an ideal thrust upon him. Heck, we’ve progressed so much that women don’t even expect men to pay for coffee. We can do that ourselves. Men don’t have to provide. All you need to do is look good enough to be tapped. How hard is that?
Pretty hard as it turns out.
Recently, when the short story ‘Cat Person’ went viral, some of the negative comments were around how the woman is repulsed by the man’s body during sex. The author was fat shaming the man in the story, they said. If this scenario were to be reversed, I doubt that we would have spoken about fat shaming at all. Women are expected to be sculpted creatures when naked and even in writing this description is distinct from how men are written about. Even if they are not, describing women sexually almost always borders on crass or excessive sexualisation. Once I critiqued a short story in which the author had described a woman in bed as a tandoori chicken waiting to be devoured. Why are men not being called butter chicken masala to be licked off? I don’t get it. This is not a case against ugliness, but how men don’t have the same pressures of appearances as women do. Men are not cat called, stared at, or even have to wear extra layers of clothing to triple cover their junk. I’m beyond hearing about how men want women to look good so that they can be attractive to them. Men also must look good so that they can be attractive to women. Men must be made to care about their appearances and women must objectify these men.
The next time I have to call my crush adorable and funny I’m going to lose it. He better be chiselled, flat stomached, possess great hair, have deep eyes and speak in impeccable Urdu.
Oh, wait. That’s Fawad Khan.
Image Featured Courtesy Chuski Pop. Sourced from Google.