“It's women's day again! Didn't we just have one?” Was my husband's reaction when he heard about women's day celebrations on the radio.
And I wondered why?
Was it because I had been the nagging badgering feminist that he had taken this stand , or was it part of a bigger picture?
At the outset I might as well confess that I am a feminist evangelist, I was all spit fire and outcry when Nirbhaya got raped, I loved Pink the movie, and for days discussed the ' no means NO' and how even a prostitute can say NO and it should be respected.
I get that; and yet I am offended when the recent Amazon ad has the girl putting up her feet and saying 'Pink’, and when the husband is actually tuning in to see the movie, she takes out the nail polish and says ‘ laga do '. What do I find offensive? It's her tone. Would you use that tone with your friend, your girl friends even? Then why the husband?
Today's media doesn't seem to understand the changing dynamics of men, women and equality.they either get too defensive or go on the offensive.
To begin with equality doesn’t mean half, atleast not the mathematical version of half.
Take for example the united by half media-movement of Benetton ;Spouting we r not better halves but equal halves, but gender equations are rarely divisible by two. The ad says equal half of the decision making, to be honest I have more than my share of decision making , I want less than half, sometimes, and sometimes I want more than half.
I make all the meal plan decisions at home, even if I may not be doing the actual cooking , I still have to decide when what is bought and in what sequence the dishes in the fridge need to be consumed. It’s a chore I found exceedingly annoying when I was pregnant, and suffering from nausea. I didn't care for food, and to decide what others ate , had me barfing. When I went home for my delivery, I was glad of that ‘decision making ‘ taken away from me. Ah , the bliss of sitting at the dining table and just eating, and not needing to work out what would be cooked for dinner, or for breakfast the next day! not by half , but by Zero, thank you very much #maakegharkakhaana .
But soon after my baby was born, I craved for the independence to make my own meal time choices, not just mine but my households, because heck that’s what alpha women do. We mark our territory, we women folk, and I wanted to go back to my nuclear home where I was the reigning queen of all domestic decisions , not my mom.
What I am trying to say that sometimes we women want ‘half ‘ the decision making, sometimes we want ‘none of the decision making’ and sometimes we want to be the ‘whole and sole decision maker’.
So these ad maker walas try to simplify gender equality , as if it was all about taking a ruler and going “ye tera half, ye mera half” is futile, childish, and down right ignorant.
To empower women , we need to start empowering our men aswell. I can see the men heckling, and some of the women sniggering, but the truth is, life is team work, sometimes you do 80 percent of the work, sometimes you do 20 percent of it. And the important thing is to know your strengths , men and women, and concede to the person who does the job better, because conceding to the better person, doesn’t mean you are giving up, but helping your team achieve more!
When can your team of a man and woman achieve more? Not when one is empowered, by breaking the other down, but by building the other up.
Here are a few things both men and women should be empowered to do.
1. Wash dishes: because dirty dishes are a turn off, and temperamental bais are a universal phenomenon.
2. Change a flat tire: because if you drive a car, this is the basic life skill you should know.
3. Make pigtails: and this one is not just for fathers of daughters, but just about anyone. If you have to send a little girl of to school , you need to know how to make pigtails, it’s a basic life skill, like tying shoe laces, watch a youtube video if you have to.
4. Make a decent cup of tea: not so that you can serve the future in laws when they come a-visiting, but because you muight return home to a lovely rainy evening, and crave a cup of hot tea, and you wouldn’t know how to make it for yourself. (ad making people , can we have a young IT professional making himself a cup of tea as he watches the sun go down, as the next tea commercial, rather than the tired housewife, who takes her midmorning tea break to refresh herself)
5. Figuring out the electricity meter: yes, paying bills is an important adult skill. Don’t know what the electricity bill is, and how it is to be paid? Find out. Don’t know how the fuse box looks, find out. Haven’t needed to change a light bulb in your life, empower yourself, or be left in the dark.
6. Use the washing machine: now this one irks me. Another stupid ad wanted men to share the load, of washing clothes.Honestly in our house my hsband did the dirty laundry. Why? Because he was home when the washing machine got installed, and the installation guy taught him how to work the machine, and I never bothered to learn. Until one day he was away on a conference for a wekk, and I found myself calling him , with random questions on where does the liquid detergent go (there are three containers for solutions on the washing machine, it is not an intuitive machine to use, in my defence) . but once he was back , I learnt, to empower myself.
7. File an FIR: Lost your baggage, someone bumped into your car, someone tried to assault you or your friend? Don’t wait for tragedy to strike, to know your way about a police station and the basics of filing an FIR. Empower yourself.
8. Make your own bed: whether it is to please your mom, or to impress your one night stand, a clean bed is a basic necessity of life. Don’t rely on the bai/wife/mother/ house help to make your bed after you. And learn it well, really own it, I say. Watch a video by the hospitality house keeping teams of you have to. Take pride in your skill, empower yourself.
9. Reboot your computer, and install c cleaner and anti virus: in todays world of technology, we cannot be relying on our better halves, bitter halves or anyhalves , when it comes to one of the basic necessities of modern day living, our technologies.
10. Show your emotions: tears may be the most obvious and potent form of showing emotions, but they are not the only way to express how you feel. for far too long we have denied men their half of being able to show emotion. Love, brotherhood, shock, support and surrender, men are capable of being the bread winner as well as the backbone of a family, we women need to empower our men to find it within themselves to express themselves. Many women too, hide their true feelings, and lead a life of discontent and they need to discuss their feelings aswell.
By now you know where I am going with this list, so I will stop.
Men or women, we can stop trying to out do each other, we need to uplift and support one another. Men and women are not competitors, they are infact the best fit team! Competitors aare the same sex participants, and thus the mother in law-daughter in law power plays, are as keenly followed as the high stake takeovers of the fortune fivehundred companies. (but more on that in another blog post)
This women’s day, the only way to empower our women is to empower our men.
How do you plan to empower yourself today and for the year ahead? Leave your answers in the comments (men aswell as women).