"Women are strange little beasts,' he said to Dr. Coutras. 'You can treat them like dogs, you can beat them till your arm aches, and still they love you.' He shrugged his shoulders. 'Of course, it is one of the most absurd illusions of Christianity that they have souls."
— W. Somerset Maugham (The Moon and Sixpence)
Having finished two of the books in the millenium series by Steig Larsson, I am left quite impressed by his sketch of the protagonist - Salander. She is a girl-woman who has had an extremely disturbed childhood and resorts to silence as her defence against the world. She is wrongly perceived as mentally unstable and ends up a victim of some powerful people. Only, she has too much self-respect to accept her victim status. The book's grip comes from an analysis of her rebellious character. She trusts no one but herself and consequently, becomes so capable of handling her life that she becomes in fact, the protectress of the few people who do care for her. It is the people who perceive her as an easy prey that the reader ends up smirking at. How cool.
But then I got thinking about her personality and contrasted this term I coined to describe her attitude - "the Salander complex"- with the well-known Cinderella complex that so many women suffer from. That of the victim-in-waiting for her Prince Charming. Even today, women have a ready acceptance of their victim status and seem happy with the sympathy they garner, never attempting to gain real respect. I also doubt this is true only in places like India where women are traditionally taught to be submissive. The Cinderella complex is a term coined in fact to refer to women in developed countries who, despite their education and potential, refuse to take charge of their lives. They are perenially waiting for someone to take care of them and smooth things out. It has something to do with the differences in the way men and women are raised to see their place in the world. But as a well-educated adult, can't one decide for oneself? It is common sense to see that giving up responsibilities for your own happiness only "seems" easy and that it exacts a huge ransom. No one can watch out for your happiness the way you can surely. It is unfair even to demand that another person ensure you be happy because you have duly submitted to that person's will. I see nothing wrong in the fact that women prioritise relationships over most aspects in their lives. In fact, I think they have got it right. But to accept indignity, to be unable to shed bad relationships that hurt one's own self, that is pathetic and contemptible. I wish more women developed a Slander complex instead, it would probably bring about World Peace!
Khushwant Singh - Delhi A Novel
6 days ago