I have developed a hobby lately to read a lot of blogs and articles of anything I find interesting on the net. In the process I come across a lot of thoughts of the people today. Blog is a very interesting window into the mindset of people, sometimes, who are total strangers. Also blogs give a general gist of the outside world today from multiple perspectives. If you think of all those blogs as jig saw puzzle pieces, you will be able to join them and create an image of a world as seen by any random common man. The picture will be even more interesting if there are some puzzle pieces from famous people. This is basically what my new hobby is all about – identifying puzzle pieces in various blogs, news clips and articles and forming some kind of an image from them. My blog today is inspired from all those readings I have been doing lately.
A new year 2014 has come. We are in the second decade of the 21st century. We have seen our society change from a patriarchal one with women treated with no respect to the days of today where there is a general equality and freedom for everyone to speak their minds. This freedom of speech to everyone has made us aware of the conditions of the people from the chawls next to us to the people who live across the oceans. Today women have a better societal position. Today’s women are educated and financially independent. They are not afraid to speak their minds. Women today are so much ahead of what they were a couple of decades ago
There are of course a long way to go even now to attain total independence for women. Even after having so much education and being financially well off than, sometimes even their male siblings, women are not allowed to choose the life they want for themselves. More often than not, around the age of 24-27, even if the female is very much successful in her chosen career, she is bombarded with questions of her marriage from every other relative in her family. That 50 year old, almost retired uncle will get proposals from “boys who are settled abroad” even if the female earns more than that guy here. At the age of 35, no matter how happy she is, if she is not a mother by then, assumptions about her health run around the relatives circle. And if she has kids, she will, most probably, be looked down upon for still continuing her career and not staying at home for kids, as she is expected to do. Even today, on any matrimonial column, the demand for “fair, slim and beautiful” girl is always on demand, and irrespective of her education or career, she is expected to a perfect home maker too.
These are some of the many issues faced by women today. And it is written about in so many feminist articles. I feel very strongly about them too. I am fed up of the questions of marriage from relatives too. I am fed up of the 9 pm restriction which my brother does not have. I was discussing all these issues with my friend and the opinion I got was that India will take a lot of time to develop completely and that maybe it helps the girls be safe too. “Why don’t you think in that perspective?” And that perspective gave me so many “food for thought” moments.
We women very strongly protest all these things against us. We say we need more freedom and equal rights. But how far are we willing to go ahead with the freedom and equal right aspect? We say we need financial independence and that we can take care of ourselves and our families. Yes, most of us are really well off. But just pause for a second and think. Even if you are well off and can independently take care of an entire family with your pay check, will you be willing to marry someone who does not work a 9-5 job but has a passion which may or may not pay today? For example, a writer or a painter or even a new entrepreneur. Unfortunately even today, when looking for a prospective groom, girls look for someone who earns very well and is well settled.
The idea of financial sharing, although upcoming, has not quite reached the level of feminism. Even today, husband’s money is easy access whereas wife’s money is exclusive for stuff she wants. Yes the trends are changing and hopefully escalating with time, but this is just the current situation.
My personal opinion about all this is that equality for women is way too over rated. Women and men are not equal and they will never be. We are very different from men. We have our needs and desires which are very different from men. We have our strengths, yes, but we have our weakness too. A very simple example is that a maternity leave may be for five months but a paternity leave is most from 2 weeks to a month. That cannot and should not be equal. Five fingers of our hand are not equal but they all are important. If they all were equal, it would have made it very difficult for us to use them properly. Even today mothers threaten the kids by saying “I will tell your father if you don’t behave properly”. Why should the child be afraid of only the father and not the mother? Why should the mother make the kids respect her less than the father? The child grows up learning women have no power, worse if the child is a girl.
At the same time, there are a lot of prejudices on men too. They are expected to be earning over the moon if they expect to marry. They should always earn more than women. They are not supposed to show their emotions at all. “Men don’t cry”, “Men hide their emotions” are very common perceptions. Aren’t they human too? Are they not supposed to have feelings? A stay at home father is so much looked upon in the Indian society. Why can’t a man take up the responsibilities of a child? More so, his own child? How does that make him any less of a man? And oh! The plight of humanity if a man cooks. The wife will never hear the end of it from her mother in law if that were to happen in front of the mother in law. Maybe he likes to cook, but that aspect is never considered.
Yes there are changes required in the mindset of the society but there is a change of mindset required for us too. When we are striving to change the society, it should not be at our convenience. When we strive for financial independence, we should not be looking for a rich guy to marry. Both are contradictory at the base level. If you feel your career is important and you don’t have time for kids, take your stand. Do not let the society or even your partner decide that for you. It would make no sense to quit what you love for something you are not likely to enjoy if you do not have your heart set to it.
At the same time, try not to judge. You might feel marriage and kids are not your cup of tea and that independence is what you crave. But do not look with pity on someone who married young and is a home maker. Maybe that is what she wanted to be. A stay at home father is happy doing it. Let him be. Someone who is venturing into entrepreneurship for the first time, may live by his wife’s money. That is entirely their matter and no one Else’s. I don’t hear anyone complaining about Narayan Murthy after he lived off Sudha Murthy’s salary in the initial years of Infosys. Then what is so different with anyone else? You never know who they turn out to be in future.
Different people have different likes. Accept others’ likes and dislikes and the way they are just like you accept yourself. Not every one craves for a high salary paying job and single freedom. They are happy with what they are doing. Live and let live.
Feminism is not the only solution for change in the world. Understanding your needs in life and standing up for yourself would take you far ahead than asking for equal rights. The required change in the society today is not equal rights to women but equal respect for all. Everyone has a different job, a different responsibility to fulfil, different dreams and desires. If all gets respected for what they do best, then that would create a much better society than equal right slogan would ever achieve.
Food for thought, maybe?? Think about it… Do comment your views on the topic. I would really like to know how far I am outdated on this topic… Thank you