Strange are the ways of the society. You see a typical matrimonial ad issued on behalf of a widow or a divorcee who is woman. The ad will say prominently – No encumberances meaning that the woman in question has not had any children by the previous marriage and therefore the prospective husband need not be afraid of any ‘encumbrances’. In one way it is a sad comment on the men’s outlook that they will see the woman’s children only as an ‘encumbrance’ and not for what they really are, ‘children’ At the same time a man who has lost his wife but has children will flaunt his children and say, ‘See I don’t want a wife; but my children want a mother. Hence I am marrying again.’ And the poor woman who is to marry him will automatically become the mother of his first wife’s children. Not only that, the woman has to be proud of her status as a mother to the children whom she has not given birth to. By the same token should not a man who is to marry a widow view her children as his? Can the widow say (and if she says, will the society accept) ‘See, I don’t want a husband; but my children want a father. Hence I am marrying again’ ? Gender inequality (read, male-superiority) is deeply ingrained in the psyches of our men and it may take a thousands of years before it is completely wiped off. Take our Tamil movies. I know one very popular hero. He acted with a beautiful heroine some ten or twelve years ago. They looked like made for each other couple. And last year there was a movie in which the same actor was the hero. And the lady who acted as his wife and lover in the old movie is his mother in the new movie! The actress has aged, no doubt. But so has the hero! Why should we give a preferential treatment to an ageing hero, but a differential treatment to an ageing heroine? The answer to this uncomfortable question is the popular myth. Men don’t age much compared to a woman. The problem is popular acceptance. An ageing hero is accepted whereas an ageing heroine is not. This apart from being a disgrace to the womanhood is actually a greater disgrace to menfolk. Men see in women nothing more than physical beauty. So when the actress ages, men lose interest. Whereas women see much more than the physical attraction in men. So when the actors age and the physical attraction goes away, still women see him attractive – may be his grace, his style, his delivery of words, whatever. I am not indulging in a kind of feminist rage here. I am just placing some observed facts for your examination. I am abruptly stopping this snippet here because I want some one to continue this thread and let us deepen our understanding of the society we live in.