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A few months back, I was meeting up with one of my male friends and my aunt was with me. While we were talking, my friend, who is a bachelor, mentioned that he eats food from outside almost every day. To this, my aunt – who is educated, broad-minded, friendly and fun – responded almost instantly, “Oh that’s not good for your health. Get married soon.” Um, excuse me?! She could have said, “Hire a cook” or better yet, “Learn to cook”, but her solution was – Get married, because then someone will cook for you.
So, is that why a girl needs to get married? Of course, there is nothing wrong in a wife cooking for her husband, but surely, the answer to a man’s longing for home food is not marriage? If a girl had complained about eating from restaurants every day, I wonder if anyone would have given her the same suggestion.
I’ve had long hair for as long as I can remember and it was getting to be boring. So I decided to get a pixie cut for a change and headed to the salon. When I explained my preferences to the hair stylist, she paused for a moment, eyed my long locks and asked, “Won’t you husband be angry with you if you cut your hair so short?” I reassured her and asked her to go ahead, but I couldn’t help but ponder over her peculiar question.
If she had said “surprised” or even “shocked”, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much; but angry? For a haircut? Really? So, I need to get my husband’s permission before I can go and cut my hair? I wonder if anybody asks a man, “Won’t your wife be angry if you shave your head?”
Both these incidents are simple, casual occurrences, which are rather unremarkable – except for the glaring double standards. Gender stereotyping is so ingrained in us that often, we don’t recognize it even when it is staring us straight in our eyes. Every day, we come across numerous such instances which we tend to dismiss as being insignificant in the larger scheme of things. However, the truth is that our girls are continuously being sent these messages from a very young age, until they themselves start believing in them.
If we want things to change, then that change must begin with us – within us, within our homes. If we want our girls to rock, then we need to be the agents of change. If we want our girls to grow up into strong and independent individuals, it is high time we changed our attitudes and tackled these double standards that are so widely prevalent in our daily lives. The small things matter too; the small things do add up. So, whether it is encouraging our sons to step into the kitchen or helping our daughters embrace and accept themselves, let’s start today.
Today’s changemaker that we’d like to highlight is FAT or the Feminist Approach to Technology, a New-Delhi based organization that seeks to improve women’s (and especially young women and girls) access to and comfort level with technology.
FAT believes that as technology evolves and continues to be a crucial determinant of one’s quality of life, it is important for women from all walks of life, to be able to use it in their work and home life. To this aim, FAT runs a technology center for women besides technical training programs and advocacy in schools, colleges and other such places where they can reach out to young women. You can read more about FAT’s work in our article on social entrepreneurs in India.
To support FAT’s work, consider becoming a volunteer. Not all of the volunteering roles need a physical presence in Delhi. You can also follow their work via their Facebook page or on Twitter.
Pic credit: Nisha (Used under a Creative Commons license)
Anne John plays with words for a living and would probably do the same even
The gender inequality is so deep rooted in our country that when urban educated people like us become parents, we invariably drill it into our kids heads too! A sister and a brother get the same love but never the same treatment in the house and the same continues when these kids become someone’s husbands and wives. Wonder how this chain of inequality will break and where…
If a car drives really slow or badly, most males will utter, that there will be a ‘Womandriver’ in it. Females are not expected to drive well, forget to even drive and I had many arguments with guys regarding this…before unlocking my Ford Endeavor and driving of… 🙂
Rightly said Anne.. change should start from within our homes, at least from our generation. That’s the only solution
Totally agree and loved your post! Recently, I saw a TV show called “money matters for women”. Wondered why they need a separate TV show specially targeted for women. Do they imply that women are dumb when it comes to financial matters I wondered. Its such subtle forms of discrimination that ought to change.
thats really true. in our society women are always undervalued and underestimated. nowdays , people search for a professional bride for their son but still want that she must be expert in kitchen work. she is good or say expert if she is only good in making good food, her professional degree is nothing.
Liked your views.
So true. The cultural bias is so deep rooted that we tend to overlook them. The onus of carrying on all of our religious and cultural rituals lie with women alone. Visiting temples, keeping fasts, performing various pumas etc. even the yoke of ‘khandaan ki izzat’ is conveniently placed on the shoulders of women in India.
Thankfully I was not raised like this. My parents raised me to eventually become a feminist.
My mom, who raised us in a b-town in east india, encouraged both of us – my sister and I, to learn household chores, and I am a single living in delhi alone, but from doing the toilet or (previously) washing clothes (now being washed in a machine), or to cooking or ironing clothes, dusting the house, i am not dependent on anyone. So much so, that my extended relatives and my friends want to visit my house for a sumptuous lunch cooked by me, when i had first started living alone – didnt know anything apart from eggs, bread, tea or boiled rice or daal. Over the yrs, i eventually learnt. And now I question any belief/behaviour that smacks of patriarchy.
Ohh and am so thankful to my parents.
And this keeps happening over and over. I was asked to give a laddoo to a boy child in my wedding after having given 2 to other girl children via some ritual, so the possibility of begetting a son could be equally probable. Such hypocrisy we live in!
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