Womanly Woes

I’m annoyed at the sheer number of articles churned out that portray modern women as these super-responsible beings who have to make CHOICES left right and centre that decide the fate of the kids, their men and the universe in general.

These articles are usually written very prescriptively and tend to pit one kind of woman against the other, on issues which are elevated to a degree of importance that veers on the ridiculous. These (predictably) include working/stay-at-home-moms, breast/bottle feeding, ‘natural’/C-section births-and a host of other (what I believe) are polarising (but ultimately pointless) topics. Or they are written lauding the success of a prominent woman as a group victory. All the women identify as ‘feminists’, obviously -but of wildly differing stripes.

Ever seen an article written for men that urges them to reflect on the relatively innocuous  choices they make in their lives, and goads them to analyse and modify it to suit an something-ist agenda? Reading some articles written by women , for women can quickly leave your head aching.

What these ‘feminist’ articles do is scrutinise, analyse and pass judgement on various individual choices. Years and reams of such writing very subtly create real self-doubt in many women who second-guess their own decisions and obsess over whether they are doing the right thing for themselves/their men/their family…with no end in sight.

I’d rather women learn a thing or two from men, stop agonising over choices that are essentially personal and just get on with it. P.S The world will not end even if you make the ‘wrong’ choice.

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I personally abhor thinking in collectivist terms, and prefer to embrace the cult of the individual. My problem with feminism and with any other “-isms” in general is that they begin to believe that their ’cause’ is greater than the individual. I prefer to remain a free agent, unlabelled and unboxed, and identify with a group as and when I choose to.

This is not to say that I’m “against” women’s rights or anything.This blog is my testimony. I do believe that an gender-equal society in many parts of the planet is worth fighting for  but I also believe that the process to ensure equal rights exists as a continuum, which began with racial equality, but has progressed to include equality for women, the LGBT community and socio-economic equality.

Call me jaded, but I’m sick of the men v/s women trope as well. Yes, there’s evolutionary biology and various other branches of science that focus on the differences between men and women, but I’d like to think that they are quite similar in many ways – with any inherent differences magnified and exacerbated by society, to a point where people claim that man and woman are from different planets.

I’ve heard the term ‘equal but different’ bandied about, but in my own life I go by ‘equal and not-all-that-different’. Life may teach me differently, but I’d like to start out with this hypothesis and be proven wrong than vice versa!

 

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Musings on Marriage

I was lead to this article by this article – essentially Chetan Bhagat’s treatise on work-life balance ‘tips’ for Indian women. The basic premise of his advice to Indian women stressed about managing home and hearth is to take a chill pill and just NOT get stressed. How helpful.

And how telling that he forgot to mention the most glaringly obvious solution- ask for husband to help out.

Which brings me to the topic of societal roles. Every individual plays a multitude of roles on a daily basis and slips into and out of different identities.

Your identity when you are single depends heavily on your work/profession. I’m not sure if defining yourself by the work you do is necessarily a good thing, but that’s the way the world works.

When you get married, however, you assume the identity of ‘wife’ or ‘husband’.That’s fine until you create rules for these identities. Society dictates that the identity of ‘wife’ goes with the role of managing the house(and any career role she may have is secondary) where as bread-winning is the ‘role’ of the husband.

In the face of such rigidity it is all the more important to be with someone with whom you can be honest about your desires and expectations. Obviously, the magic formula is different for every couple, but, the key to getting it right is to keep an open mind, and not automatically project ‘roles’ (taking care of the home, earning a fat salary) on to your significant other. This goes for both men and women.

I also (very cheekily) want to point out that being a stay-at-home wife is NOT a ‘job’ – it is more accurately, a choice. What is the equivalent term to describe a single person who does this?It doesn’t exist, because no single person can do this ‘job’. This is not to devalue the work of managing a home; I just want to point out that the choice not to work is only available to persons (mostly women) in long-term relationships.Being a stay-at-home mom however is an entirely different ball game-raising children is arguably the toughest job of all.

Which brings me finally, to kids. When a couple has kids, all other identities SHOULD take a back-seat. Becoming a parent involves taking on a momentous role – a star turn if there ever was one. Again, you should not assume that the role of care-giver to the child is/isn’t automatically yours , but discuss and divide responsibility equitably. As it is, you will remain ‘in character’ as a parent for the rest of your life.

Blast from the Past

I was a child when the whole Aishwarya Rai/Salman Khan break-up happened, but from what I’ve read, he allegedly actually hit her and put her in hospital for a bit. I’m a bit fuzzy about the exact details, but this much was established back then-that he harassed her on sets and physically abused her as well.

From Aishwarya Rai’s own statement at the time

While I have maintained a dignified silence about him and his wrong-doings, he (his family and friends) has repeatedly attacked the respect, dignity and pride of me and my family (with irresponsible rumourmongering. I stood by him enduring acholism, misbehavior in worse phases and in turn, I was at the receiving end of his abuse (verbal, physical, emotional), infidelity and indignity.

That is why like any other self-respecting woman and God is witness, I said enough and ended it almost two years ago but because of a dignified silence, all have misrepresented my stand and spread rumours about my character and baselessly alleged affairs and tried to spoil healthy working relations with costars. I do not want to get into the gory details and obnocuious (sic) experiences, which incite washing dirty linen and other ugly untruths.

What amazes me is that back in 2002, he went completely scot-free. I wonder if that would happen in 2012.

What really takes the cake though , is this 2003 article, written by Manu Joseph for Outlook Magazine. I don’t know whether he intended to go for sardonic, but he comes periliously close to defending Mr.Khan and painting Ms.Rai as an opportunist. This is the same man who is now the editor of Open Magazine.