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Not being misogynistic helped me shape myself as a man. Here are a few things that can become the reasons behind you becoming a better man.
I grew up in India and left in the mid-90s when I was in my mid-20s. I have a very well-paid job in the technology industry and I am fortunate to live and work and call myself a resident of a couple of developed countries. I have also travelled around the world for pleasure, work, and exploration.
I want to write about what makes me happy and what made me a better man. Though my goal here is to explain how not being misogynistic helped me shape myself as a man, since I am from a technical background, my writing will have bullets and quantitative measures to explain my point.
Here are 7 things that made me a (better) man!
Do what is best for you and your family.
Falling in love with my wife fundamentally changed my perspective about my own life. It’s the power of love, nothing matters when you are in love. It changed my pre-conceived ideas of values, restrictions, and social rules I had grown up with. That continued into my days of parenthood. The joy of holding my two babies when they took their first breath probably is the 2nd and 3rd life-changing event in my life after falling in love with my wife. I did not have any idea how to be a father, nor did I let anyone influence me how to become one.
I did, and still doing, what is best for my kids. What makes them happy has a higher priority than “just because”. This freedom of doing the right thing for us has given us the freedom to take a vacation to reflect on our lifestyle, eat foods we enjoy. And hey, we even moved to a new country after being well established in a financially rich city just because we wanted more freedom for our kids.
Create moments to reminisce.
While my exhausted wife slept, I woke up and took care of the nightly feed for my babies. If I am home, I took care of their baths, evening walks, feed them, change their diapers, play with them in the park while my wife plays tennis in a league. I build blanket forts and be the pretend monster chasing them for a hug. My appreciation of the beauty of Paris increased quite a bit when I walked around its streets on a cold February day with my 2 year old asleep on my shoulder because he didn’t want to sleep in the stroller, nor wear his jacket.
I have been back in Paris since then, and have felt nostalgic about that evening. Now that my kids are in their teens, while a new set of memories are being built from the sidelines, watching them grow into their adolescent days, I can share their childhood memories of how much fun, stubborn they were when they were babies. And I have these beautiful memories to think of when hiking the mountain and for a few minutes, I forgot the slope of the incline.
Minimal efforts pave the way to a woman’s heart.
A popular saying is ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And my belief is way to a women’s heart is through a clean kitchen. Once my wife walked in and kissed me and said ‘looks like you sorted the recyclables.’ Even my kids admitted that was a very easy way to earn love and appreciation. In reality, I probably was looking for a lost piece of mail and ended up sorting the papers, plastics, and glasses, but such a high reward for such a small effort.
I like to watch late-night comedy shows, while the TV is on, I clean (don’t be peaky, falls under clean category) the kitchen countertops, put the leftovers in the freeze, put the dirty dishes away, very minimal effort, but, there may be an immediate reward when you make it to the bed if not next day morning you have a clean kitchen to go to.
You don’t need to prove before your peers that you live a more comfortable life.
Patriarchy is a way to prove before your peers that you live a more comfortable life than others. That leads to a constant demand by the “man” to be taken care of at home by the “women”. But modern technology has given us access to machinery that brings the comfort of life. I have no idea what palette is activated by which spice, nor do I know the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon. But I cook. There are step-by-step guides available on my phone. Amazon Alexa can give instructions on a recipe with more authority than my mom. I have a slow cooker that makes biriyani overnight or an air-fryer that reheats a frozen samosa in minutes. Yes, you had better chicken tikka masala in that restaurant on the corner of that street in Bengaluru, but I am not trying to prove a point to that chef that it doesn’t take much to get a better comfort of life. And by cooking for my family, and getting their compliments, or even backhand remarks as you could have done better, make me humble and happy. I can cook Peruvian Chicken with mango chutney on the side, can your friend with Benz do that. If he can do both, good for him, let’s get invited for dinner at his place, I will clean the kitchen afterward.
Show respect to women’s feelings, listen to them… unlike us men, they have beautiful stories to tell!
I grew up seeing images of Krishna surrounded by his gopis. But no one told me how he did it, except to say he was mysterious. Turns out there is no mystery. Just showing respect for their feelings, who they are is good enough, and spending an entire evening listening to wonderful stories from women. Let’s admit it, we men have very few stories that are not related to us. Look at me, all I have done in this article is brag about me. But women on the other hand tell beautiful stories. I don’t think a male psychologist can make a career on the topic of vulnerability as Brene Brown did, nor any man therapist could tell stories about relationships as Ester Perell did on her podcasts. And for me, the best thing is, I didn’t listen to these podcasts, my wife did, I listen to her, and we have spent the entire Saturday mornings talking on these topics. So just drop the misogyny, go to the kitchen and start making some food, give the guest a cup of wine, and spend the evening listening to beautiful stories.
Stop creating unnecessary tensions by giving directions that no one needs.
My dad used to say you can enjoy a dinner in the sitting area or be a sanitary inspector and go smell bad things in the back of the kitchen. I probably can fill a page with things that my wife can change, but she also can write a book on things I need help with. My wife gets dizzy in the passenger seat so she is the defacto driver, but at the same time, she will make the passengers in the car hold on to their dear life when she drives. We used (still do) to get into a lot of fights when going on long drives, but in reality, she has rarely got into an accident. So it’s me who is creating unnecessary tension by constantly giving directions. Now I download a few good podcasts before we drive, we listen to them as a family and have a very good time.
Letting go of the go that has been instilled in you frees you to see the love in you.
My humour can be classified as those bad poets in Ghazal assemblies, keep repeating the sher (couplet) with a hope that the mehfil(gathering) will get into it. But I have also found that if you just do your work as an adult in the house, like cooking, cleaning, picking after yourselves, the family will let go of a few bad jokes. Once my wife and kid returned home at the same time in the evening, and I was in the kitchen figuring out what to cook for dinner. The first question my wife asked was something related to what’s for dinner. And I said well now you understand why men come home and get angry when the dinner is not ready. By all means, it’s a bad misogynistic joke, but since all of us knew I am the one who is cooking, everyone including my kid had a good laugh, I felt like I got my Subhanallah (praise to the lord).
It hurts when someone stomps on things you love. But it becomes even harder when your love is wrapped with ego. Then you do not know what you are protecting, your ego or your love. So letting go of your ego, especially the misogynistic patriarchal ideas that have been implanted in you in the name of pride, letting go of that ego, frees you to see the love in you. The joy of sharing that love, that self of you to the people you love, has no bounds.
Image Source: Sivia_Jansen from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro
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