12 Annoying Personality Traits Of Men Who Graduate From Aitchison
Every woman who marries, courts, or holds some relation with a man who graduates from a male-only preparatory institute has to carefully separate the male-only part from the human parts of that man. The separation is no less complex than an aneurism extraction surgery and the tension is electric.
Is he human or is he a sad excuse for a human? What remains a forever conundrum has now found its way into Pakistani women’s collective angst against a Lahore based legacy preparatory institute called Aitchison. This institution that gave us our current Prime Minister was once called the Chief’s College catering to the needs of the male heirs of princely states and tribal chiefs. It was a kind of a desi Eton or Harrow and like those boys’ schools it maintains the legacy of elite male privilege, though without the same substance that is associated with those British boarding schools.
Even in Britain, the age of a single sex preparatory school has long passed with only four such stubborn institutions still resisting the winds of change. Aitchison is of course not the only such boys’ school in Pakistan. There are several cadet colleges which produce the same kind of toxic masculinity. Cadet College Hassan Abdal, PAF Public School Sargodha and Military College Jehlum are a few others that come to mind. However while these other cadet colleges administer competitive entrance exams into class 8 and above, the only criterion for entry into Aitchison is who you know and what your father does.
I would like to therefore, illustrate with twelve characteristics I find most common features of the grown men who have emerged from there with a massive superiority complex.
The alumni bio always mentions Aitchison
No matter what a man does all his life in Pakistan, even if he has achieved world domination, his bio will always mention Aitchison, and he will feel the itch to mention it in all conversations. He may be a head of state, or a roller blading scientist, but the brand name appears like a South Asian holds out his caste.
A gross self-obsession
I illustrate with a story I heard from a girlfriend. She was at a small gathering of friends where an Aitchisonian alumnus, from the class of the time Madonna released her first hit single showed up. She said that when the gentleman found himself ignored at a party, he made it a point to say to her on his way out: “We haven’t been introduced. You seem alright.” Juxtaposed together these two sentences do not mean much except a casual goodbye from an overgrown toddler, put apart they could be interpreted to mean, perhaps you are fine enough to have presented yourself me and it is now left to me to decide whether you are alright or whether you are not socially presentable.
A finite ability to learn the courtship process
I’m not saying that all men from this institute get embroiled in a sleeping-with-the-house-maid scandal, or date age-inappropriate young girls who they leave after knocking up, I’m saying that they hold women in low esteem and prowl those who are easier to intimidate. Intimacy is more frightening than a cave full of attractive women that would rather watch paint dry than talk to your self-aggrandizing monologue. No one wants to know how you slayed power, not even your mom, she listens because of biology.
They have WhatsApp groups to reinforce the bro-code
In addition to a long list of sacred cows that range from a discussion of politics or religion, they herd around this app and think it’s a company they own with a full on board structure and a CEO. Also, this is where the we-need-cover-for-each other culture thrives and contradicts we-need-to-stick-together culture. They congregate like fishermen, catfish people here and whale hunters over there. A highly co-dependent culture, really, and no they don’t choose their addictions wisely.
There is only one type of women
Mothers aren’t women, they are mothers. This is where the harassment debates go one way: Women ask for it and then crib when they can’t handle the heat. He’s got a family to protect. What a home-wrecker. This is where the professor who harassed a student sexually and claimed her zip snapped on its own is held in favour of the professor.
There is one type of man
This is where homophobia is celebrated like a good day at the stocks. Insults and slurs are about laughing at anything remotely effeminate. Somewhere, someone knows that a thriving gay culture exists, but the only acknowledgement is touting toxic male masculinity. In fact Aitchisonians seem to protest too much, which makes sense because the stories from there are stuff of legend.
Women over 50 are only ugly
There is a granular understanding that if a man from this clique finds a certain ‘advanced age’ woman (their lexicon, not mine) are unworthy of their attention because their neck sags or hands look wrinkled, that they are ugly. The mere fact that they do not desire her makes them define beauty. This is not about freedom of personal preference, this is a specific way of looking at the world’s women who cross a non-fertile line and begin dwindling estrogen reserves. They think it’s about the eggs, but really it’s about the fact that it’s difficult to hold any conversation with a woman who has shed sexuality as they define it. There is zero control because it’s hard to think of a woman like that without defining her reality outside of her intellect or her personality. Or even her dominance.
Their discomfort is someone else’s fault
When wives nag for more presence, secretaries ask for pay raises or peons are slower than they need to be, the punishment is cut out for them. You know that 1950s’ man that went on “business trips” and came back insistent on a quiet house so he could have some peace of mind? That’s your archetype. That’s the man who maintains airtight worlds for comfort alone – golf, charity, work and/or indulgence – Psyycological integration is hard work and a man can get away with not telling anyone anything. However, sooner or later, when there is some public shame, the blame has to be elsewhere. You can punish most people for disobedience surely.
They are hard to tell apart from a woke intellectual
This guy, the stereotype of course, is occasionally witty, innovative and articulate. It’s hard to tell, but there are ways. Check to see how frantically they try and stop the stories of people outside the force field. Do they listen when the little person speaks, like really listen, or do they preach rather than coach? Do they talk more about equality than allow someone to insult their privilege without running them over? Can you speak to them about #MeToo or some fringe group without emphatically defending their right to be unaware by claiming they already know everything?
An inability to read power disequilibrium
You can hold the suites in high esteem until you realize that they will advocate for a pay-cut for their employees during the Covid-19 crisis and refuse to take a pay-cut themselves first; or tell someone who wants to be assertive that they should know their place and be more tactful, or even entertain themselves on the back of an exploitative industry or at the least be the beneficiary of a warped system that leaves many out. Intellect can be of great utility and fame, even the kind that touts human rights, but cognitive dissonance is just plain uncool. Much of this is due to the specific kind of mindset with which Aitchison has operated over the last 134 years. The erstwhile masters may have gone, but the subservience to power remains.
That’s a wrap
No wait, there is more. They look down on people who are not part of the Lahore elite –– they are the metaphorical big fish in a small pond. Lahore is a charming city but it is at the end of the day a provincial capital with a lot less upward mobility than say Karachi or Islamabad, the former and current federal capitals respectively. There I said it – the alumni hate the integration drive, the only cool thing about that place, and trash it by dreaming of some originalist concept of pre-Bhutto times when old money ruled that place and the ivy on the walls smelled of jasmine and sang Persian couplets as you passed by the walls.
Entitlement is the norm
Here’s-how-it-works, “let-me-tell-you” is how it works. The structure – of government, society, the man, overindulgent parents, whatever you call it – feeds entitlement. Which really is not anyone’s fault really. What is deliberately harmful is acting out to avenge what they think others owe them.
If you are reading this and are not raging mad, this piece of art is not about you. It is mere expression of a few years of observation.
The writer is the Co-Founder of Women’s Advancement Hub. She is the author of two published books on Feminism and writes for several publications.