Bring to Your Children a Better Understanding of the Other Sex

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph. D

During my early teens, when I realized I had begun to like women, my internal behavior came into a direct contrast with my outside behavior.  Inside, I was fascinated by women and I would fantasize about them.  Outside, I began to make fun of them and ridicule them.  I would say things like, "Women didn't have any intelligence, they didn't have any sense of humor.  Women would laugh at a joke twice, first time when everybody laughs and second time when they understand the joke.  The unkindest cut was my saying that women didn't have the sense of smell, therefore, it was possible for them to wash baby's bottoms and change diapers."  I made these "un-wisecracks" at home, the first time everybody laughed.  But when I downgraded women again, my mother took me aside.  She said, "Son, when you make fun of women, I want you to remember one thing.  Your mother and your older sister too are women."  

I had never made that connection.  To me, my mother was my mother, my sister was my sister and then there were all these women.  Here she put them all in one class, as if they were bonded by some kind of universal sisterhood.  I loved and admired my mother.  My sister, fourteen year older than I, was like my second mother.  That put an end to my having fun at the expense of women.  It was as if at that moment, I became indebted to women forever because two members of their species had given me all the love in the world and taught me everything I knew upto that point in my life.  I didn't even go to school until the third grade.  My sister taught me at home.  

The abuse and indignity inflicted on women has disturbed me from very early on.  I will not and knowingly cannot verbally or physically hurt a woman.  And the credit for it goes to my mother who made the connection for me, that they too were women.  I wish that more and more mothers and sisters will make that connection for their sons and brothers.  So men who have received tender loving care from women in their early years, may repay their debt to womanhood, later.  Perhaps men brought up in such a tradition will extend gentle love, tender care, and above all, respect for women with whom they come in contact in later years.  Above all, that they desist from hurting them physically or emotionally.  The trouble is that more and more boys are coming out of their homes into the society with little love or respect for men or women.  They are bitter.  They are angry with the adults who raised them or didn't put enough time, love, and effort in raising them.  They wait for the day when they are bigger and stronger, so they can take their turn to intimidate and hurt someone else for the pain they are carrying in their heart.  

My father was someone to be feared and respected.  He loved us all dearly, but from a distance.  He would brag about his children and their little achievements to all the friends and visitors and would laugh at our antics when they were related to him by my mother or other family members.  But he was not demonstrative.  I don't remember if he hugged me during my childhood.  Whenever he set his eyes on us, he was always correcting us.  Whatever he saw us doing, he told us how to do it correctly.  For instance, how to sit or stand properly for a good posture, what should be distance between the eyes and the book, and how to hold the pen to write more legibly.  

The role played by my father as a supervisor and an instructor changed as I reached the age of 16 or 17.  No more corrections!  I guess he thought he has taught us all that he needed to and now he could take a break.  He began to sit and talk with us, put his arm around us, tell us his life stories, and often cut up.  He really put the guards down and let us see the other side of him.  We then came close to a father who was a very funny, loving and emotional man.  Thus, he began to share his feelings in addition to his knowledge and skills.  We saw for the first time that he was vulnerable like all of us.  He was tough as a nail when it came to endurance and meeting a challenge, but he was most caring and tender when it came to his family.  Earlier, I thought there was only one emotion he experienced, "anger."  One time, my oldest brother explained to me, that he and dad were like a coconut.  A coconut is hard from the outside but soft and tender from inside.  

I am so grateful to my father and brother that they let me see the gentler, kinder side of them.  Now I can be who I am.  I have the permission of my significant others to be tender and tough without any emotional confusion or challenge to my manhood.  Actually, I think I am a coconut that is split open.  You can see the tough shell and the soft pulp all in one glance.  


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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 



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