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What we women are doing wrong even as we fight for Feminism!

This post has been published on womensweb.in. You can find the piece at the following link :  http://www.womensweb.in/2017/02/fight-for-feminism-what-we-are-doing-wrong/

I was in a theatre a few months back when a documentary caught my eye, and has been disturbing me ever since. It was supposedly an attempt to make one understand the plight of women.So, It depicted how women toil in the kitchen and serve the husband who is already waiting at the dinner table, yet secretly, they dream of sitting at the table while the husband toils in the kitchen and serves her the food. And I thought, wouldn’t it have passed a more correct message if it showed that the man entered the kitchen too, worked alongside his wife and they both shared a happy meal together?

It struck me then, THIS is what’s wrong with the popular concept of feminism. THIS is what people think the women of today want….to give up all work, sit down as royals, and give men a taste of what it feels like to be a woman. The ad must have been seen by a hundred others apart from me and it feels sad to know that all of them went back with a twisted concept of feminism ingrained in their minds. I’m sure the intention of the ad had been to further the cause of women empowerment. But sadly, 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….Did all the women in the theatre inwardly cringe at the ad as I had done? Or had it been just me? With these thoughts in mind, I took to analysing how much the women of today actually understood feminism. As I discussed more with people around me,

I realised, 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 realised, that most of the women in the audience that day in the theatre, would have thought that the ad was justified…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!!

Thus my conclusion: Change begins at home, and if we want the men to understand feminism better, we women must take the onus of living the philosophy of feminism in our everyday lives! Here is a small list, some pointers if you may, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?!

Ramchandra Guha had written an article a few days back of 11 courageous women who had sent Gandhi a letter way back in 1939. In the letter, these women explained to him as to why he was wrong in making the statement that “The modern girl dresses..to attract attention”. I read that article and realised how many men & women generation after generation have been fighting for our cause…fighting to get us the rights, privileges, honour we have always seen only men enjoy. And today, we are so close to achieving that. But what I fear is that in the 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!

We women have a huge task ahead of us….of convincing the society of the need for Feminism for its own betterment. But while we gear up to shove the boulder, let’s not ignore the pebbles. And as we fight and struggle with the society, let’s step back for a moment, stop ourselves and analyse if WE women 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!

How my relationship taught me to be single!

This post has been published on mycity4kids with 12000+ views, you can find the piece at https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/live-love-think-askwhy/article/how-my-relationship-taught-me-to-be-single .

Come Valentines Day and everyone around me is talking of togetherness and being grateful for it. I on the other hand have something very different to be grateful for. I am grateful that my relationship made me rediscover the ‘ME’ that was getting lost in the chaos of ‘WE’. Confused? Read on to know my story ?

Like most girl friends/wives, I too was once intent on spending all possible free time with my then boyfriend and now husband. My life revolved around going for movies with him, eating out with him, and all those moments when we weren’t physically together were spent on the phone with him. Of course, as is always the case in the glorious beginning of any relationship, he too enjoyed it. But this beautiful phase? It has a shelf life..an expiry date. And when that day came, I didn’t know how to get my head around it. Nothing drastic changed ofcourse, but sometimes he would be too tired from work to meet up, or maybe he didn’t want to watch the movie that I had been looking forward to for months, or that he felt I should go by myself to do some shopping as he wouldn’t know what to do…I guess the regular stuff we hear all guys say. Afterall, slowly, when the novelty of fresh love wears off, you are shuffled up and down in the priority list. And that’s when I realized that for each NO from his side, I told myself a NO too. If he didn’t want to come shopping, I cancelled the plan altogether. If he didn’t want to watch some movie, I ditched it and watched the movie that he wanted to. This would have gone on and on….But I got lucky. I got unhappy.

I relied so much on HIM for my happiness that I ended up making myself sad. I was lucky my boyfriend didn’t relent. My tears and pleas of “I just want your company” couldn’t move him and he would cold-heartedly(that’s how it seemed to me then) say “Learn to be independent. Do things yourself” and I would just resent him all the more for it. And one day, when this resentment and anger and sorrow boiled over, I decided it was time I taught him a lesson. I dressed up in my best, went shopping all by myself to the biggest mall and splurged all I could…I was doing it to avenge my insult at the hands of an ungrateful boyfriend by showing him I COULD find happiness even without him.

And that’s when it struck me. I COULD FIND HAPPINESS EVEN WITHOUT HIM.

I felt relieved. I felt like I had broken free and enjoyed myself and my heart was soaring. I felt like there was no stopping me! Such a melodramatic reaction to something so minor, you would say.  But that was the day I discovered myself. And guess what, when I met him that evening, I was in a great mood, he was overjoyed that I had had a great time, I showed him all my purchases and he said I looked wonderful in all of them, and our time was spent with so much love, with no place for anger and resentment, that it was truly refreshing!

That was the day I realized, how wrong it was of me to burden someone else, even if he were my life partner, with the job of making my life happy. Why did I expect him to keep my happiness over his own all the time? If he wanted to watch cricket, why did I expect him to watch Friends with me because that’s what I wanted? If he wanted to take rest on a weekend, why did I force him to go out just because I wanted to? And in this whole process what was I achieving? Not only was I making him unhappy, more importantly, I was making myself unhappy too! Instead of enjoying whatever things we could do together, I was only bitter thinking of all those things I couldn’t do because he didn’t come along!

I also realized that if this went on, I would always look for a shoulder for support. If not my partner, my best friend, or maybe my siblings or even my children in the future…I would always expect the important people in my life to make me happy.

That was the day I turned my life around. I decided once and for all that I would take charge of my happiness.

Today, if my husband is busy at work and I badly want to get out, I go for a movie, order a full bucket of popcorn and my favourite drink and laugh my heart out. I must admit, I do cheat, in that I generally go for those movies alone that he anyway wouldn’t have watched. But that lets me have his company in other movies that he likes to watch too! On weekends, when he’s busy catching up with news and sports and other things on TV that I just don’t watch, I sit back with a book and read to my heart’s content! We both have friends we spend alone time with and at the same time we have common friends who we meet up with together. I spend hours on creative things I love to do…making something artistic or cooking…something I used to disregard earlier because that was ‘time away from HIM’.

And then when we are done doing things in our own space, we enjoy doing things together even more. The dinner together becomes much more interesting because we have stories to share of our lives apart.

The new found space we discovered in our relationship helped us make time for our own lives. I could now do things like going to a cake class or learning dance GUILT FREE knowing that he was having a good time too in whatever he was doing. The immense joy I feel in doing all these things I am passionate about percolates down to our relationship. A cheery happy wife is all my husband needs to be happy too ? And in this process, our love and respect for each other grew by leaps and bounds.

The day we stop burdening our relationships with expectations, each little thing becomes a pleasant surprise to be cherished!

That day when I set out to teach my boyfriend a lesson, the universe taught me one. That my happiness was in my hands and nobody else’s. That when I stop drawing happiness from those around me, and create my own, I will be at peace with myself. This knowledge has opened up gates of freedom I had never dared cross! And today, our relationship has the space to breathe openly and fearlessly, nurturing the seeds we had planted, of togetherness!