Whatta tag season this one is.. I'm almost at the verge of taking a break from blogging and doing some serious tagging these days. Not that I'm complaining. I like doing tags. :)
They remind me of those writing exercises back in school..
The difference now is that I can speak my mind, talk stupid or whatever and still get away with it, as against those days with strong emphasis on structured writing and stuff.
Seema tagged me this time on 'Feminism'.
Controversial topic, eh? sheesh.. Seema, how could you do this to me?
For all that you know, you could be driving away all my potential knights in shining armor.. you know.. with pot-bellies and bald-heads n probably a divorce to flaunt too. :P (no offence intended)
No, really.. it's something I have noticed. Any guy who's remotely interested visits my blog, and I can see from the tracker trails that they almost always unfailingly hit on the label 'women'. They fear I'm a feminist!! :D Almost making it sound like a monster. And then they start acting all cranky in an effort to sound empathetic. They tell me how they resent women who love pink, like red roses, swoon over chocolates etc etc... Now how do I tell them that I can die for pink, kill for chocolates and will love to death the guy who gives me a red rose. (tragic truth: No guy ever gave me a red rose. Well one almost did, way back at college, but I drove him away with one of my 'dont-you-dare-honey' looks... *sniff sniff*. Btw, for some strange reason, girl-friends always shower me with bunches of red roses. And when I share my sad ominous red-rose story with them, they specifically warn me against telling any guy that girls gift me red-roses, you know, for obvious reasons! :| )
My point: Being Feminine doesn't make anyone anti-feminist or vice-versa. Sadly, Feminism is almost always seen as an antonym of Femininity.
I've come across this question : "Are you a feminist?" quite many times.
and my all-time fave reply is a deep sounding: "it depends on your definition of feminism"
(psst psst.. that's my staple answer for any question flirting on the lines of a probably controversial discussion. How convenient! :P)
Feminism being an oft mis-represented/ mis-interpreted word, the 1st thing I did was to hit dictionary.com for the meaning of Feminism.
Going by which, it is :
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.
And as long as we stick to that definition, I'd say, 'Yes, I am a feminist'
Though my perception of it is that it's all about providing equal opportunity irrespective of a gender bias. Now how a person chooses to use this opportunity should be totally left to the individual, but the 'opportunity' should be available without a bias.
Yes, just like the caste system prevalent in our country, which specifies caste specific tasks which were being followed through generations, there were also gender specific tasks which were religiously exercised all through ages. They say it's a part of our tradition / culture. But as any society improves with civilization, the caste based tasks kind of fade away and so does many of the gender based classification of Do's and Donts. But the prejudices attached with it still linger on. New age feminism, I believe is more about breaking the shackles of these prejudices.
Personally, I've been in situations where I was at a disadvantage, just for the reason that I'm born a woman. I have reacted differently every time.
Sometimes I fought back : Does that make me a feminist?
Sometimes I decided to just ignore it : Does that make me an anti-feminist?
# I've been to a school which was a co-ed till 4th grade. We all collectively hated the guys, and waited for the day when we can get rid of them from our school. I remember fighting them with wooden rulers which we were using like swords. We used to hurt and get hurt. I dont remember any of the girls whining when they got hurt.
It was fair play. I did not know what Feminism was, then.
# I went to a co-ed college for my pre-degree, and realised that things have changed quite a lot. I learned I'm not supposed to jump over a half wall, but should take the stairs like a lady, while the guys could always take the shortcuts conveniently. 'Not fair', I thought.
But then, realised that girls are much smarter and they have their own workarounds to turn those disadvantages to their advantage. A few ladylike moves, graceful smiles, thoughtful words and fluttering eyelids can get the guys to do almost anything for you. There you go! So that's the way women have their shortcuts. Impressive. But I chose to differ.
Was I a feminist then? No, I did not know its meaning then. Mebbe I was just too proud. or mebbe I did not like being manipulative. It just wasn't fair play.
# Engineering college: That was more or less a man's forte for a very long time. C'mon, how many of our Moms are engineers by educational qualification? In all these years, I just know one friend whose Mom's an engineer. And apparently, she was the only woman in the whole college then. Needless to say, one naturally feels like a second grade citizen in there, at times. I'm sure most of the girls would have. Some of us were aware of it, some never gave it a thought, and some chose to ignore it. "Oh Girls? They just mug up their lessons and get good grades. They sure are eye-candies in the college, though".
I never reacted to it. Did that make me a loser then?
# The professional world: It's been 7+ years, in an industry which is comparatively fairer to women than many others. My 1st job: The ratio of women:men in the team was 1:7. At my 2nd job, it was 1:5. By the time I took up my 3rd job, the ratio was 1:10. When I was hired, I was literally the only woman in an otherwise all-men team. So where did all the women disappear? As much as I remember, when I went to college, we had a 1:2 strength.
In the past 7 years, I've been asked more than once in job interviews, about "When am I planning to get married?" How many men would have faced that question for a job interview?
I have been told by one of my reporting managers, very frankly that generally managers are finicky about hiring women. 'If they are single, there's this constant threat of them taking a flight as soon as their parents find an NRI groom for them. If they are married, we are worried when they are going to avail a maternity leave. If they have kids, there's this constant fear of them taking a break to take care of their kids. Women just don't make dependable team members, you see'. How fair is that?
Which brings me to the most talked about reservation topic. I never wrote about it in this blog. Yes, I do support reservation.
Ok, so mebbe, personally speaking I am too proud to ask for a reservation. I know I'm privileged enough (comparatively speaking) to have got equal opportunities in many arenas to depend on it. But then, I should also acknowledge the fact that there are many many more women out there (rather 'in' there) who've been victimised by biased prejudices. Don't they deserve a chance to live their life like anyone of us? No one is talking about pushing the housewives to work. But isn't it just fair to provide them an opportunity, just in case they'd be interested in taking it up?
We try to play it down telling how the women would be turned to mere puppets. But hey, why don't we give them a fair chance and see how things turn out? The way people use their opportunities, is totally dependent on an individual, irrespective of their gender. We cant say all men in power use their opportunities better always, right? Then how can we assume that all women who are given an opportunity to be in power will misuse it?
Of course 'Reservation' is not at all a welcome word. That's why they are implemented forcefully against the wishes of a majority, which would rather not give that equal opportunity to the lesser privileged, and want to monopolise it for their own advantage. Period.
#Marriage: Well I haven't yet reached there to make a statement on it, but then from what I've seen and heard all this while, I guess I have my 2 cents of wisdom to share.
In a not-so-distant-past, men used to be called chauvinists if they demanded their wives to be housewives. Now, they say things have changed. Men look for working brides. Preferably working in MNCs. Tier I companies most welcome. And guess what, they are broadminded enough not to mind if the bride earns more than them. Very convenient. And why not? They have taken housing loans to build homes in their hometowns for their parents, and of course they are expected to send money home too. So, obviously, they can do with the wife's paycheck to maintain a lifestyle + buy a swanky apartment in the City. All in the name of being tolerant and modern. Very very convenient. Plus, she'll cook for you, manage your household, take care of you and rear your kids. Nice, ain't it? And lemme not get started about the Dowry system now!
Guess who's being manipulated here time n again?
#Streetsmart: I'm on my own most of the time. I don't quite like taking side-kicks along, or being a side-kick while I'm out there. It comes with its own share of issues, though.
I've been thrown stones at, by boys one-third my age, in the heart of Bangalore city. I wonder where they pick up such ideas from? I dunno if their folks at home treat their women like street dogs. They were a majority in terms of number, so I could not have reacted as I would've liked to.
I ride a scooter. In the small by lanes, I come across pedestrians who like walking on the middle of the road, just for kicks. I give them the alert horn. They turn back. 'Oh its a woman?! well, she can wait'. They get on with their elephant gaits. (You think I'm exaggerating? If you are a woman, try walking half a kilometer along a pedestrian path of any Indian metro city, and count the number of times you have to step aside for a man to pass by. The funny part is: half the time, we dont even realise that we're stepping aside. It comes naturally!) They used to bug me initially. Now I grin when I see them. One of my fave passtimes is to go give them a nudge with my scooter's handlebar. I love the look of disbelief on their faces, when they turn back startled. 'How could she?' written large on their faces. It's fun. The left side rear-view mirror of my bike's almost always on a state of swinging around just because of this habit of mine. Yes, I am evil.
4 years back, I took up this job in Chandigarh. Missed the office cab on the second day, so walked upto the nearest rickshaw stand, and the driver demands quite an unreasonable fare. I don't quite oblige, and the next thing I know is about 10 rickshaw drivers rounding up the one I'm in. One of them says: 'madam, hum paise hi toh maang rahe hain, koi zabardasti thode hi kar rahe hain'. I knew better not to talk any further.
Though I would love to, I think twice (well definitely more) about going on a roadtrip all alone to a new place. I have to. If something untoward happens, there'll be hundreds of them who wouldn't think twice before before calling me adventurous enough to deserve it. I don't think I could ever make a trip like that without worrying about the fact that my parents would be spending sleepless nights worrying/praying for my safety.
I wish things were better.
I know this is some topic I can go on and on about, just like any other woman worth her salt. I just choose to stop it at this, with whatever rushed to my mind in the past few minutes, in the light of some personal experiences.
I know I'm at an advantage to be born in this age and time, as compared to my Mother or my Grandmothers. And I wish, hope and believe that the daughters of tomorrow could inherit a world which is more fairer to them.
Now, for the tagging part, I realise most of my blogger buddies around have already done the tag, so this time around, I'm passing this on to my newfound colleague-friend-blogger, S.