Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Character Certificate

Today, there was this funny news article in The Times of India which talked about landlords asking for 'character certificates' from single ladies who wished to rent their house. The character certificate should be issued by the employer it seems. There was then the part of the article which talked about how disgusted those ladies feel about this abominable demand.

I don't know if the demand is abominable. It's definitely stupid. An employer can't know more about its employee's character than is necessary to employ her. And actions speak louder than words. Why would he employ someone whose character he is not sure about? The employment is a stronger proof than any other written statement by the employment. An employer is well off taking care that his employee does her job well and her academic credentials are authentic. What kind of an employer would go to the extent of examining how many men she sleeps with? It's therefore more reasonable to ask for an employment proof.

As far as this being seen as a reproachful act in itself, my sympathies (temporarily) lean towards the landlord, particularly because we men have put up with this nonsense forever now, and no spinster ever stood up in our support. There have been landlords who have warned me (me, the Sujit; can you beat that?!) not to involve in 'all the nefarious activities of a bachelor' when I was about to take his flat on rent. There are still others who have their doors permanently closed to bachelors. Only married people please! I have found this very unfair, seriously. And have tried to raise my voices in many occasions. All my objections to this unfair and demeaning attitude to gentlemen has always been taken lightly. No one protested! Men, by default, are assumed to be nasty, lecherous, characterless. No one finds it odd if they are treated that way.

On a wider front. Perhaps, tomorrow there will be spinsters who would be insulted with suspicious glances in buses, trains and everywhere? Such looks as tells: 'Hey! I know what you are upto, huh! Don't you dare!' and there will be protests. Then, may be, pubs and discos will be closed to spinsters (not because they are in mortal danger of being beaten up by saffronists, but to prevent them from behaving badly with sober visiters). And there will be reproofs.

There should have been protests earlier though, when all this started being done to bachelors -- millions of years ago. It never happened. It's so easily accepted that men have been treated rawly in such matters. A man of genteel ways has always had to tolerate a treatment that the more lecherous brethren of his deserved.

But hold on! Perhaps we don't need any protests. Perhaps all these reproaches are side-effects of an upcoming gender equality. It's not a steady state, but a transient. Slowly, perhaps, women are starting to get an equal share in everything -- opportunities, responsibilities, power. And suspicion and reproaches as well. Perhaps, it also shows another non-obvious good thing. Women are indeed more liberated these days. They too have fun. They go to pubs. They drink. They check out guys. Some of the bolder ones even give a damn about premarital virginity and figure out everything the experimental way regardless of marriage. I feel all this is fine. Why not? Guys have been doing this for ages. Why can't girls? Particularly when both are equal, which means an equal propensity to any kind of behaviour? But there's an obvious side-effect. There are people in our society who don't approve of this kind of lifestyle. Such people want to stay away from any intercouse with people of a more adventurous kind. This kind of people have been asking for some sort of a character certificate from bachelors for ages, unless they had decided on not letting out their place to bachelors at all. These days, thanks to gender equality setting in, women have started getting rid of their age-old idea of their being any less craving for excitement, and have started indulging in what they really are, that is, very similar to men. Naturally, they too are coming into the firing line of those conservative people, who have forever subjected poor bachelors to this indiscreetness.

I envision a time when there won't be character certificates asked for renting accommodation (because it's stupid and illogical). No generalised restrictions will be effected in places of enjoyment. No suspicious glances thrown on anyone for percieved chances of lechery. Both in case of men, as in the case for women.

That will be the Age of Gender Equality. Till then I prefer fair indiscreetness to unfair discreetness.