By Sourya Reddy:
A few days back, I was out with my family for dinner at a relative’s house. The call for dinner was immediately met with the men being offered and taking all the seats at the dinner table (that could only seat six people). One of my distant cousins, maybe six or seven years of age, insisted that his mother sits beside him during dinner. My aunt kept refusing, saying she would eat later, and that he should eat first. It was probably the good host routine along with a mother caring for her son, and the rest of her family. But it took me a while to notice and realise that all the men, myself included, got the first servings. We got the seats at the table and the first serving. Not because we demanded it at that point, but it was just given to us as if it was the ‘obvious’ thing to do.
The females members of my family, (upon insistence from an elder relative), helped themselves to food while it was still warm, but kept standing around the table. Not because they had nowhere else to sit but because dinner was secondary for them as their primary duty at that point seemed to be serving others. They kept putting their plates down in intervals to serve anybody who needed anything while the men continued to eat, partaking in political discourse about the cesspool that our country is and how we can fix it.
This isn’t a rant to show that my family is hypocritical. On the contrary, it is to show how deeply patriarchy is entrenched in our society. I would say my family is progressive in its outlook, liberal in its standings. But the concept of a woman’s ‘place’ in this world is so deeply etched in our minds, that hardly anyone, including themselves, recognise the many ways in which it manifests. Women themselves don’t realise the hypocrisy that surrounds them.
I am a man. I am a feminist. To me, feminism is not about reversing the roles. It is more than fighting for a place in society. It’s about the creation of a society where our gender doesn’t decide the lives we are going to live. To create a society where opportunities are not compartmentalised according to gender roles. An individual, by virtue of being a human, deserves to be treated the same as any other would. Woman’s plight in society glares at us and often takes form before our very eyes. Yet, we’re utterly oblivious to it. The root of the problem is the centuries’ old way of thinking that tells a man that a woman is his and that tells a woman that it is her duty to serve the man.