Drawing Room Culture
We’ve heard the term locker-room culture thrown around enough for us to understand that it comes loaded with connotations of toxicity, abusive behavior, and entitled opinions. And while this culture is unfortunately still rampant around the world, our side of the world is grappling with our own version of it: the drawing room culture.
Cue the cushy white sofas, expensive carpets, and low hanging chandeliers, the air-conditioner blasting over our complaints about the heat as we rest our feet on upholstered stools and are waited on by children younger than our own. “Oh we’ve only stopped by for a bit”, which encourages the “oh but please have a little something!” and the little something is always overflowing trays and trolleys rattling with the finest china that’s cradling every guest’s personal choice of beverage individually served, platters of flaky patties, rounded mithai, and bowls of Nimco that we will gluttonously indulge in with no heed for the crumbs sprinkling onto the carpets or spewing from our mouths because we won’t have to clean up anyway.
And the spewing. The spewing of food and the spewing of nonsense. Spewing nonchalant hate over a difference of opinion - “Their daughter is always on some kind of pedestal, sending her abroad without any regard for how much she is already corrupted” - and more blatant judgments on anyone who sways from the norm - “He’s studying Fine Arts as if that will support a family!” Spewing uninformed bullshit with the utmost confidence - “These women ranting and raving on the streets just hate men, they don’t care about equality” - and spewing racist statements flippantly as they dunk yet another cookie in their third cup of tea - “These kaafir don’t have a place in our country, they should go elsewhere if they can’t adhere to our values.” Spewing dismissive statements about anything they don’t understand - “Mental health is such a convenient excuse for our children, in our time it was just two strikes to the back of the head!” and spewing irrelevant remarks to drown out what could have been, an intellectual conversation - “Bhai, I don’t know if wrong or right, I just know that God will take care of it, we don’t need to get involved.”
The hate, the misogyny, the gluttony, the entitlement, the racism, the hypocrisy, the judgment – the delusional belief that they are the flag-bearers of self-righteousness and piety, all finds a safe haven in our drawing room culture. The four walls of a drawing room protect these individuals with shields that are just as intangibly insignificant. They are your adults, we must not contradict them. They are our guests, we must not make them uncomfortable. They are from a different time, we must respect where they come from. I myself thrive outside of drawing rooms, by challenging any remark that irks me or diving deep into open conversations every time I encounter a difference of opinion. But whenever I enter a drawing room, I enter with a plastered smile, holding a tray overflowing with more treats for these shallow, selfish mouths looking only to keep their own bellies full as they revel in their invincibility.
Drawing room culture is protected by eons of traditions, where uncles and aunties thrive because here, they are sheltered from the ‘rebellious, badtameez, loud-mouthed" youth under the guise of tehzeeb and respect. It is because of drawing room culture that flippant remarks said between a few polite laughs, eventually snowball into defining a mindset that is continuously fostered in our society. All our collective activism online, all the marches on the streets, all the incessant calls for change fade dramatically in the matter of a few seconds when ‘that’ problematic family visits our home and “ha-ha, oh wells” their way out of the conversation entirely. It is why despite all the emotional and physical labour we put into moving towards a more progressive society, our leaders will unabashedly maintain their regressive rhetoric because at the end of the day, they know that at the very grass-root level, there is some uninformed entitled adult sitting in some drawing room, vehemently supporting them.