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The “Praise” That We Should Stop Giving Women

Posted: November 24, 2014

What traits do you praise in a woman? Your misguided praise may do more harm than good by reinforcing gender stereotypes, says this post.

When patriarchy tries to be modern and lavish compliments on women, the result can be atrociously funny (if you are the type that laughs at the ignorance and sheer fat-headedness that lies behind gender stereotyping) or simply disgusting (if you are the type that refuses to take such matters lightly).

Today, some dolt – no doubt, a well-meaning one – trying to make up for centuries of male cruelty and ingratitude – posted one of those message-carrying posters on Facebook. There was a curvy female in a skirt of an impossible fit standing with one hand on her hip and the other pointed towards the ‘sermon’, with a daft smile on her pink lips, featured at the bottom right hand corner of the poster.

The poster read (and I quote verbatim): “Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her your love, she’ll give you her life. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies what is given to her… cheers to all beautiful ladies.” To this, our dolt had added the comment – ‘For all the ladies out there’.

I had a laughing fit.

I thought of the suitors I had rejected. They had, undeniably, given me their love, but, as I had explained to each of them, love alone would not suffice to inspire me to share my life with (any one of) them. There were other equally important factors – like compatibility and likeness of taste and union of outlook. And so, rejecting the lovelorn suitors, I had chosen my partner – who promised not so much undying love as mutual respect and an exciting journey together.

When my partner and I had finally saved enough to buy a house (actually it is a flat), I knew better than to try my hand at something I had no aptitude for. So I, willingly and unprompted, gave my interior decorator brother-in-law the charge of making it a ‘home’ for us.

Every first Saturday of the month, when my partner and I meet in the evening, taking off from our respective jobs a mite earlier than usual, we go to the shopping mall near our house for the month’s supply of groceries. Once we have lugged the bags home, and arranged the stuff in their respective places like refrigerator, kitchen shelves, and kitchen cabinet, we call for a giant pizza and watch the news on television and chatter our heads off. Next day onwards, we take turns cooking unless we decide to dine out, or better still, his mother or mine visits us and offers to take charge of the kitchen.

And for all the men who smiled, and who still smile romantically at me, if I had to give each of them my heart, for one, my partner would have been none too pleased, and for another, I would not have had much heart left.

As for ‘she multiplies what is given to her’, I am reminded of my profession – my writing and editing assignments – where the brief always is to make it short and sweet! If I multiplied rather than subtracted, I would soon be without a job!

I am sure you all mean well, when you put up or share posts glorifying us women, attributing to all of us saintly qualities like unconditional love, unrepentant sacrifice, and unflinching faith in the goodness of things.

Guys – and I also include the man who posted this – I am sure you all mean well, when you put up or share posts glorifying us women, attributing to all of us saintly qualities like unconditional love, unrepentant sacrifice, and unflinching faith in the goodness of things. I am sure that by hailing us thus, you are trying to make up for your great grandfathers, grandfathers and, perhaps even fathers, who did not live in times when women’s rights and women’s assertion were a public agenda, and who never imagined that women could deserve any attention.

But guys, don’t you realise, that by portraying us thus, you are also making us out to be the most uncomplaining of drudges in human society? That you are not giving a fillip to our struggle for liberation, but actually taking away from it? Guys, honestly speaking, we could do without the halo, but not without the right to be as we are and proud of it.

Pic cedit: Image of a woman dressed as an angel via Shutterstock.

A social activist, I never tire of wondering at the myriad ways in which women

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