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Is every issue worth fighting over in a feminist world? Can’t we weed out these misplaced gender battles and focus on choice instead?
Over a dinner with former colleagues, we hit upon an interesting area of conversation (almost as always) – men v/s women in the married set-up. I happen to know this colleague-friend for a good few years now and was thus aware of the pro-women context of her family. Fortunately, a similar environment in the house of her in-laws made the transition ever so smooth.
She narrated a recent instance from her household. While she dished out food at the dinner table for the elders around the table, she pretty much picked up a fight over doing the same for her husband. Logic – it was the respect driving her actions towards the elders of the family. But she will not ‘succumb’ to doing something for her husband just because she is the wife (read female).
This triggered my thoughts that have been gathering over a period now about how our (of the female gender) rebellion or the attitude of standing up for ourselves is sometimes misplaced. With all due respect to each one having their own back story and their own reasons, we nonetheless do attempt upholding rights when maybe it is less about the gender debate and more about the person or the situation.
The wave of female-oriented, empowerment based discussions, powerful women stating their views through the media, as well as, the rampant social media trend about the same, has probably gotten a lot of us wired up way more than needed. I am not trivializing the need to be alert and aware of discriminatory practices or the undue importance of one gender over the other. However, I am definitely suggesting that we all think twice about this “issue” and check for ourselves if a situation warrants the ‘gender-fight’ card!
It is ironic that I also recall a friend (and well, more than one at that) who is the happiest in ensuring that she manages all of her husband’s needs. She has made it a priority to revolve all her plans, commitments, routines, and so on around how her husband chooses to plan his day. None of this however, is by force or compulsion. It has been a choice always. She finds it amusing at times when I share contrasting habits from other women friends I know. For her, being this way comes rather naturally and she has no qualms being who she is.
Neither of the people I have mentioned here are ‘wrong’ and neither are they ‘right’. The bottom line remains the same – ‘individual choice’. Each of us, regardless of our gender, is entitled to a choice we make for ourselves in living life the way we wish to. Factors of country, culture, community, and/or family are equally real in that impact they have, of course. So we are then looking at individual choice within the context of the larger, macro factors in which we lead our lives. But to thus consider any of this as binding, however, is a grave error.
When a certain way of living has been practised for long, it becomes a way of breathing for us. That is how we adapt and condition ourselves to be comfortable; have a grip over our lives. Not everyone is going to be want to or be comfortable to change at the same speed. Thus, expecting all women all around to have the same amount of submission / dominance / aggression / drive to excel / career-orientation, and so on, is not only unfair but also foolish to a great extent. Being rigid about something, in either direction, is equally tricky and trouble-laden. Let us allow people to be people first, then their genders, and then everything else!
On this path towards gender growth and openness, we are likely to find people walking at different paces and of course, in different directions as well! Go easy on the judgement, thus.
To fight back is a helpful tool in moving towards a much-needed change. But to fight in a misguided direction is far more hurtful to any cause.