A documentary I saw a few months back left a deep thought on my mind. It showed women in a sympathetic light and let us know that women too dream of enjoying the luxuries that men receive on a platter. That includes things like sitting down comfortably at the table as the husbands cook up their meals and serve it to them, just as they have been doing all this while. While I am sure its intentions were in the right place, I think the documentary ended up doing more damage than good to our fight for Feminism. Afterall, this isn’t the kind of empowerment women should or would want. Feminism has ALWAYS been about equality, not about turning the tables on men and sitting back and enjoying watching them struggle and saying “See this is what we go through”.
This event set me thinking….Do the women of today really understand feminism? As I set out on this path of analysis, I realized, that while women tend to remember the ‘women’s rights’ aspect of feminism, the core principle of ‘equality’ is often forgotten! For example, on the one hand women shout out slogans for equality and feminism and on the other hand they don’t want to let go of all the ‘benefits’ or ‘considerations’ they receive as a woman in today’s society, leaving the men fuming and calling us hypocrites. I thus also realized, that most of the women watching the documentary would have thought …that the wife deserved the right to sit back and enjoy the meal being served, while the husband who was now in her place drew no sympathy!!
If we women want the men to understand feminism better, we must first take the onus of living the philosophy of feminism in our everyday lives! So here is a small list of the things I have observed women do, in fact unknowingly several times, that is not aligned with the concept of Feminism:
1. Let me go ahead, I am a woman!
Many a time I have seen women break queues and move ahead using the excuse of being delicate creatures who can’t bear standing in the hot sun. I understand women sometimes have issues that entitle them for some slack. But why otherwise? Don’t use this age old concept of “ladies first” to weasel your way out of a situation while men struggle it out honestly.
2. I shall let you have the honour of paying!
This is especially true of working women. If you want men to not treat you as “women” at the workplace, carry the same thought outside as well. Earning as much a man, but expecting him to pay each time you go out is completely unfair. With the demand for equal pay, comes the responsibility of equal expense.
3. My husband has no right to demand I work!
I have been appalled several times that women take offence when their husbands ask them to work and help with the financial situation. Many well educated women, even in this day and age, consider the post-marriage period of their lives as an ‘option’ to stay at home if they so wish. In fact, what’s even more blasphemous is women themselves consider a man who ‘cannot earn enough to support her’ as ‘inadequate’. This is so sad. When in today’s world, we expect men to take care of the home & children as an equal partner, then what is wrong of a man to expect his wife to help him financially?
4. No late shifts please, I’m a woman!
Well if you can’t share the burden at work, don’t expect to be treated equally. Yes, I agree that women are responsible for their own safety. But today’s jobs provide ample number of flexibilities that women can enjoy so that their work isn’t affected. So instead of saying a no, how about asking them for options. For example, can I do the night shift from home? Or… Can I be assigned a shift such that I can go back home early morning when there’s daylight? Or…can someone trustworthy from the team drop me back? Yes, we women are weaker in physical strength when compared to men, and we always need to be cautious. But don’t use it as an excuse all the time. The men in your team work equally hard, probably have wives and families they need to get back to or spend weekends with. Share their burden whenever possible.
5. A man must know his manners!
Men at my work place don’t hold doors for me. My chair is not held while I make myself comfortable. Nor do I hear “after you”. One may argue..”these are manners”. Yes, but from which era? An era which deemed women were “ladies” to be “taken care of”, who were to be “guarded and protected” by the chivalrous men!! No, I don’t say that men who do it are wrong. If a man thinks he wants to do it for me, that’s sweet. But let’s not dismiss men who do not do it as “ungentlemanly” (Yes, I have seen this happening). As I mentioned above, if you scream for equality in all spheres then don’t demand “courtesies” as your birth right as a woman.
6. A Man must be Manly!
This, in my opinion, is the worst of them all. Women, even today, even while demanding a change in the definition of ‘being a woman’, refuse to change their definition of ‘being a man’. If a lady’s husband works at home while she’s out working, the poor guy is mocked. If a man goes to a parlour, that defies our views of the right things a man should do. Men who cook lunch-dabbas in the morning for themselves and the wives are sniggered at….by women!! If a woman can ask for the right to live by her choice, why isn’t the same to be granted to a man?!
Men & women, generation after generation, have been fighting for our cause…fighting to get us the rights, privileges, honor we have always seen only men enjoy. And today, we are so close to achieving that. But I fear that in this process of making sure we get our rights, are we committing the same injustices that our gender has been facing all along? Are we women too becoming insensitive to the opposite gender…a quality we have always associated with a Patriarchal society? Are we women forgetting that the true meaning of Feminism lies in equality? Feminism isn’t about taking a patriarchal society and turning it inside out into a matriarchal one! It’s about creating a beautiful world of equality for all lives, whether of men or women!
So today, as we fight and struggle with the society dear women, let’s step back for a moment, stop ourselves and analyze if WE are TRULY following the SPIRIT OF EQUALITY in our daily lives? To usher in a new era, let us first rid ourselves of the stereotypes in our own minds. Small changes at our end can change the outlook of people around us, can make them respect us for what we ask and not mock us for what we get!