An Anti-Stereotypical Thought Singju!

We worship Goddess Panthoibi piously for two weeks in the month of Mera and for the rest of the year we are ready to consider our womenfolk are like the do-they-even-exist types. Manipur Masala presents an anti-stereotypical thought singju to unravel a few funny cases of stereotyping, which are intricately fabricated and juggled in our society for all these years.

Behind the masquerade of patriarchy, stereotyping is observed as quite an ethical norm in our society. To cite the simplest example, we generally observe that a guy who occasionally cooks or indulges in a bit of household chores for his family is categorised under the section of ‘maram mokpa’ or ‘gyaan taaba type’. He becomes an adorable person in the keiroleikai. If that guy happens to be a Pakhang, a list of leisabis would go ga-ga after him.

Alright, I do admire the type of maram-mokpa Pakhang or any nupa who lends a helping hand in the domestic chores of the family. But given a thought on it, it smells to me, a syndrome of hard-core stereotype.

In our society, the female lots in every family are occupied in a hell lot of household chores on a daily basis. There is hardly any admiration for a particular girl who runs her family catering to all the needs of the members of her family.

There is a sole consolation that a girl receives from her relatives or keiroleikai: ‘Echagi maram khumoksidi hayengwai mouga oiradi manem makuna yam paamdoipotni’. This insinuates how a girl is born to look after a family for her entire life—regardless of mapaam or nupa mayum.

A leisabi, before tying the nuptial knot, is expected to learn all the emungi kupnom besides mastering the art of cooking niche insaangs such as chagem pomba, ooti thongba, sareng thongba etc. Leisabihood days are synonymous to pre-marriage training time during which a girl has to attain perfection in every single household work. When it comes to work, the list is endless: wai teiba, chaak thongba, fee suba, emung loisinba (rolling my eyes) and what not.

Imagine the roles were reversed. Imagine a Pakhang doing all these household activities on a daily basis just to become eligible as an ideal Yumgi Nupa after his marriage. I would not mind hosting an event in pursuit of the most maram mokpa nupa of the year simultaneously showering him with gifts and blessings. There would even be benedictions such as ‘afaba nupi fangjaro’.

Well, the ground reality is not so fascinating. Our society has so many funny hocus-pocuses about culturing the norm of stereotyping. We have tinctured many stereotyped beliefs on our mind. All of us are accustomed to the beliefs of shumaang matonda fanek fouba touheide; except u-rok sumjeet, guys are forbidden to touch the broom and the most interesting one: nupana eru ludana chaak thongbadi yai, nupinadi yaade.

I do not have the slightest intention of waging a gender war. But I honestly believe it’s high time that we change our mindsets on sexuality. So, in my Utopian Sanaleibaak, guys should cook on a daily basis; they should equally look after their homes like their better halves; and they should not mind if there is a Fanek hanging at the Polaangkhok right at the Shumang maton. Rather, mind the mess that is synonymous to Manipur today.

Until and unless we change our mindset, there is hardly any use of yelling at the streets or hammering the keyboards to speak out against injustice or crime against women that are continuously committed in our society.

‘Attempting to get at truth,’ to quote the acclaimed English journalist, Harold Evans, ‘means rejecting stereotypes and clichés’.

Can we attempt to come upon the truth? At least, try...?

Come on, it won’t be anything like rocket science. Let’s just do it. Let’s say ‘Goodbye to stereotyping’ and say ‘Hello to a free society’ where all the Leisha-Pakhang are categorised as Maram Mokpi/Mokpa and the ahal-laman enjoy themselves as audiences of ideal romantic nuances.

The world’s truly a stage. And I bet it will be a hit with equal improvisations from the two sexes, rather than just one. In so doing, I bet again that we will find more essence in singing paeans for Panthoibi Lairembi. The rest will follow automatically.

This article was published on 13 Oct 2013

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