I am what some may call as “Feminist”. Well I chose to call myself, someone who would not like to bog down just because I was born female. I have crossed thirty and I have realized that nobody can empower you. If somebody else has given you the power, then that somebody can snatch the power away too. Empowerment needs to come from within. One needs to feel capable enough to decide for oneself, have the courage to choose what one likes and not get dictated by norms and rules.
As I met various women in my life, I understood that inferiority is deeply entrenched in them. And funnily they do not even realize it. The new Ariel Ad where the father apologizes to his daughter is the perfect example.
Women have been taught that it is their duty to look after all the household chores. Even if you are rich enough to hire a maid, you need to coordinate with the maid. It is like delegating the work you do not like or find time to your subordinate but you are the only one responsible for the output of the subordinate. My husband is super cool, but even he told me that I will not look after kitchen, it is your area. I told him, no its not. I have never done any ration filling or coordinating with maids before. I have led my life exactly the way he has. Thankfully he understood and now we share the responsibility.
I knew this relative of mine, who will not let her husband or brother do any household work. Mind it she is educated and is a working woman. How much ever dead tired she is, she says-“Why are you doing. I am there. I’ll do it.” She gives me cold looks when I do not interfere when my husband is doing the household chores. She has been taught that men are not supposed to do this work. They are meant for office work.
Then there are women, who will share messages like how hard a women life is. She has to play different roles (sister/wife/daughter) to perfection (which means do all the stereotype jobs assigned) and manage office and yet maintain patience. Really, I think even the guys have to do the same, if that is the case.
Then there are other category who praise when their husband help them once in a while with some domestic chores. Or if they find somebody else’s husband/brother doing it. I think we should really stop doing this. Does anybody appreciate when women go out and earn? Then why such a big deal, when a man does household work. We should stop treating it as a luxury but demand it as a necessity.
The worst of all is the portrayal of women in our movies and tv serials. A girl who manages household chores and office both without any assistance from the man is an ideal woman. A woman who refuses to do so is the vamp. Other day I saw the song( udi udi from Saathiya) and I saw Rani Mukherjee doing all the household chores while Vivek Oberoi was simply watching her. I am sure while filming they dint even realize the message they are giving, because it is an accepted fact.
Also, women give up their lifestyle to adjust to the new family they are marrying into. My friend married a Jain and gave up Onion/Garlic etc etc. Another friend’s sister and one of my husband cousins gave up non vegetarian food as they married vegetarian men. Why? I am a vegetarian, I never asked my husband to give up. Why are you supposed to do that? Sadly, it is an accepted fact that a girl will have to do away with her lifestyle. Girls are expected to give up their jobs/career to move with their husband. And for them it is not a big deal. This is the norm, a girl always have to give preference to husbands career.
And then the ever eternal giving up your surname. I have been questioned multiple times by my office colleagues, friends, and family. Few of them have even send out invitations by adding my husband’s surname with my name. It is just assumed that a girl would simply take the name. Many of them have told me at least put your husband surname in the last. I have an identity that I created .It won’t change just because I married someone. If I have entered his family ,than even he has become a part of my family. Will he take my surname?
And most of the marriage customs are completely unfair. Our Pandit explained that during marriage groom is the form of Vishnu, hence the bride’s father is supposed to wash his feet. Really ? If groom is Vishnu, then the bride is Goddess Laxmi, then why the groom’s father does not worship her. And in the dowry marriage she indeed is the Laxmi. In some tradition a girl is supposed to display her skills (knitting/food etc ).Why the boys don’t display their skills? And then there are the blessings-“May your husband live long and you die before your husband” and “May you be blessed with boy”
Irritatingly, how much ever a girl succeeds professionally, she is always measured by how well she cooks or how artistic she is or how good she is at domestic chores. I have constantly been asked -Oh you know how to apply mehendi, rangoli etc etc. Or oh now she has learnt cooking, isn’t that good in few years she will learn everything. And most of these comments are by women.
Then are the free advice’s of taking your career slow; none other than by the working women. How difficult it is to manage both. Women should be the one who should slow down. Why should she be the one, because a child needs mother the most. And father has to work, he can’t stay at home. What will the world say? I rarely heard someone saying, that ask your husband to help you with the child that way you both can flourish in your career.
I know of very few cases where all of this does not hold true. Some would say that is because the husbands/fathers/brothers are supportive. I would say, it is because she never considered herself inferior to the male counterpart. Since she never moulded her thoughts and ideas as per what the society deemed correct.
A woman will be truly empowered, when she will be free to build her personality the way she desires. When a women will not be judged on predefined parameters. And when finally, she realizes that no one but she has the power to write her destiny.
The post got published here