Gender bias, stereotypical attitude and discrimination is embedded and is so deep rooted and enmeshed in our society, culture and environment that it is hard, very hard to identify when we come across one. It starts with very small things like pretty pink frocks for a girl and blue T-shirts for a boy. Doll houses for a girl and battery operated cars and helicopters for a boy. Tears as an expression of sentiments for a female but a sign of weakness in case of a man. And it doesn’t stop here. It slowly seeps in the way we talk, the way we act, the way our personality forms. Like, a man is expected to walk in a certain way so that the posture and the gait clearly depicts strength and masculinity and any man walking in a dainty manner would quickly become the subject of ridicule and jibes. Similarly, a woman while walking is expected to walk in a straight line, to be delicate and any female not conforming to this would also be the subject of ridicule.
A person doesn’t have to be a feminist to oppose and voice their opinions when gender discrimination occur neither does one has to be a MCP to side with men. The situation in today’s world is bad. And things have been particularly bad for the females for a very long time now. The atrocities, the violence, the social norms and prejudices are centuries old and would hardly go away completely in the near future. The history is fresh with the mentions of the first woman doctor, the first time women got the voting rights, the first time army recruited women, the first time women could contest a government position, and the list is endless. Women have been pulled back, pushed into a corner where there is no escape route and made to spend their lives in a cocoon because the only “work” a woman is capable of is, to be a home maker. The child when born is the responsibility of a mother because the father of course, has got to perform the worldly duties. Be it education, opportunities, importance, decision making powers, women are considered a second class citizen.
On analyzing the situation, one aspect clearly shows women as the victims and men as the oppressors but, surprisingly, the other side shows how women are equally responsible for the situation in some cases. The truth in terms of the society is somewhat convoluted.
On one hand lie the blatant refusal and the sickening truth that stares us straight in the face clearly and without any qualms considering women to be inferior to men. On the other hand, there are women who are not oppressed, not subjected to violence and not treated as inferior, receiving the best of education, are free and independent and still very strongly but in a subtle way are picking and choosing the stereotypes that suite them.
This write up is not for the ones who are oppressed, harassed and presented with hurdles in their lives. This write up is for the lucky few who have the means to change the things but choose not to because somewhere, deep inside they are sly enough to understand that not all stereotypes are troublesome.
It’s not easy being a man in a man’s world. A man is a son, a brother, a friend, a husband, a father. Right from the childhood a boy knows he has no other option but to succeed in life, to have a career and to support a family. His small boyish shoulders right from the beginning are laden with the weight and the pressure to become something, to be able to earn money because if he fails, he would not only be branded a failure in the society, but would also not be able to have a family life and most importantly, a wife.
It’s not easy for a woman either. She is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a mother. Right from her childhood, a girl is often shown a dream where a charming prince would come sometime (preferably and ideally by the end of her teens) and would sweep her off her feet and she would then be living happily ever after. While growing up, a girl is shown a rosy picture of the life that awaits her. To have a career or not, to become something or not is often given to her as a choice since it is believed that a girl would hardly ever marry a man not as successful as her own self because ultimately, it’s a man’s job to support a family and not the other way around.
For some women who have the economic independence to make decisions and life choices, male chivalry like paying the restaurant bills, opening the doors for them, being the main person in the household to bear the expenditures and not using the wife’s income, actually plays out to be a benefit rather than an annoying stereotypical approach. There is a term MCP widely and joyously used for men who think of women as lesser beings and we all are aware of that. The question arises, what is the term used for women who use such an approach to project themselves as a weaker sex and reap the benefits out of it?
Women are considered an epitome of love, care and sacrifice. There is no reason to believe that men as living beings lack these specific traits. It’s a matter of opportunities, a matter of independence, a matter of chance. Gender does not make a person an oppressor, power does. And power can be misused by both men and women equally. If a parallel universe is imagined, with women oriented norms, placing them on a pedestal, all the abuses and insults faced by women today would then be faced by men.
Equality is a great principle and ideal. When a person, be it a man or a woman claims to believe in it, that point onward, there is no looking back. Equality doesn’t come with the husband or a male friend not objecting to the kind of clothes their partner wears, where they choose to work, what time they come back from work, supporting their decision not to change the surname, not pressurizing them to have a child and once a child is born, taking equal responsibility for the same. Equality in case of certain able women can only come into practice when they too take equal responsibilities in paying off the loans, not expecting men to open doors for them especially when they are perfectly capable of doing so, not always expecting expensive gifts from husbands and partners but also gifting them a few, understanding that a house hold is run by two people and not one, respecting the laws supporting women, which were brought into place because a large number of women were being oppressed, facing problems and hurdles, laws that were meant to act as a shield protecting the rights of a woman not to be confused with a weapon to take undue advantage of men.
We have all heard the phrase “be a man!” being used to make a man stand up and take responsibilities. It’s time we start telling the same to the women who choose the easier path, to stand up and “be a woman”, take up the responsibilities, stop using the gender stereotypes for your benefit and since you are fortunate enough to be able to be making these choices, set an example so that women who are actually oppressed can take you as an inspiration and the men who are in a way being exploited can breathe a sigh of relief.