A letter to Ms Sanghamitra Chakraborty

Sanghamitra Chakraborty
Editor
Prevention (India Edition)

Dear Editor:

I was taken aback on reading your note in the latest (July 2007) issue of Prevention magazine (India Edition).

Here’s an extract of the note that I found particularly startling:

“I know of a man who had devised a simple way to sort his laundry. He would fling them on the wall in front of him. If they stuck, thanks to the grime, they were ready for a wash. If they didn’t, he would use them until they did.”

From this you conclude that “men are wired differently” and that “men don’t waste their time fussing about cleanliness”.

You also go on to call the July issue of Prevention a “user’s guide to men”. You seem to have decoded men in entirety.

I am sorry to say but this is the worst kind of gender-based over-generalisation I have read in my life.

First, you have simply declared that “men” care little about cleanliness.

Ms. Chakraborty, just because you happen to know an unkempt, scruffy man who doesn’t wash his clothes till they become “sticky” doesn’t mean that all men do the same. Far from it…in fact there are as many men out there who fuss about cleanliness as there are women.

Then, you mention men not being interested in “cooking elaborate meals”. I would like to draw your attention to an interesting statistic: 79 percent of all lead kitchen positions including chefs are men; and these guys cook nothing if not elaborate meals. Not that it makes any difference. Chefs or not, if you ask me, cooking elaborate meals is a matter of personal interest and has nothing to do with gender.

If I sound like I am writing in defence of men, then I am not. I am only writing against gender-based over-generalisation.

To prove my point, let me give you an example of another common and absurd over-generalisation – this one stacked against women:

“Men are better and safer drivers than women”.

You’d be pleasantly surprised to know that in 1998, American women caused only 27 percent of fatal crashes while American men caused the rest. (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, USA)

Moving on, the article you refer to in your editor’s note (Steal His Routine, Prevention, July 2007) is equally absurd. It says:

“Guys go from fast asleep to ready for work in 20 minutes flat.”

Are you kidding? It takes me at least, and I mean at the very least, an hour to get ready for work from the time I wake up! I prefer two though. I know many of my male friends who need similar timelines to get ready in the mornings. On the other hand, some of my female friends are quicker to get ready.

Any kind of over-generalisation only reflects prejudice. Physiological differences are all right. But behavioural differences between men and women are not rules. I think it is unbecoming of a magazine like Prevention to take such a biased view of half of the world’s population. I hope you prevent such a prejudiced view of the world in your future editions.

Unbiased,
Manoj Khatri

11 thoughts on “A letter to Ms Sanghamitra Chakraborty

  1. I agree.
    Any kind of generalization merely reflects the prejudices & biases of the speaker. Infact such a close minded approach may hamper only his/her’s understanding & appreciation of the amazing variety in this world. Also in a world increasingly being fragmented on the basis of gender, race, nationality, status – such loose comments can only serve to alienate us from each other. So when you have the opportunity to speak to the world at large & maybe even influence a few opinions, use it wisely & with a sense of responsibility

  2. “To generalise,” said William Blake “is to be an idiot.” Sorry to sound caustic! But, the fact is: sometimes, notwithstanding our best endeavours, many of us cannot escape from bias, or foible.This (edit) is one such example. May better sense prevail, especially in editorial columns, in the future. Let it be Prevention, not Preven-SHUN!

  3. “If I sound like I am writing in defence of men, then I am not. I am only writing against gender-based over-generalisation.” – Friend, you are almost like a trial lawyer with your response. I wish you are on my side when you argue issues like that, cool.

  4. I agree with you. Generalizing about gender cleanliness, as well as other things is absurd. I know many men who are clean, and many women who are slobs. Funny though that in the case of male cooks, I’ve actually heard the opposite: that they are better than women cooks :P Loved your letter! You tell them!

  5. Well done Manoj! My husband would put to wash a tee he’d only wore for 2 hours in an evening…so he’s the diametric opposite of the kind of men talked about here…and surely no generalisation please!! Now let us see if they publish it.

  6. Thanks Tuttysan, Nandita. I am glad you feel the same way about gender-based generalisation. We’re unique, each one of us. To generalise is to trivialise the beauty of nature.

  7. Yes, you’re right. It is unfair to make such generalisations. I know men [my friends, brother, dad, husband] who do not do any such things. It all depends on interest levels. My friend’s dad is so fond of cooking that he cooks some dishes better than her mom. It is not gender that governs behaviour, but the kind of work schedules that men and women follow today. No day is same like the other. You can do so many things leisurely if you have time for them. You cannot judge people and make such vague statements. She should realise that she has a powerful communication tool with her and she should use it appropriately.

  8. you people are such losers. i thought the letter in question was lovely. your post only proves you have way too much time on your hands and not much of a brain. this is a specific comment, not a generalization.

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