Two conversations are to be credited with for today’s post. The first this morning was a rather serious one and the second later in the day lighthearted and fun. I will share the second first.
This afternoon, I met up with a group of fabulous neighbors, who share my passion for reading and constitute one of my two book clubs (the other being equally amazing.) After we dissected ‘The Sense of an Ending’ and found our own closure to Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize 2011 winning novel, that almost all of us began by hating and then while discussing all changed our opinion of, well again almost all. The discussion then veered off to the craziness of parenting, we laughed at our foibles and our successes. Till one mother of a 3 year old shared her worry that her daughter hates wearing dresses so much that at parties she would pout and sulk if taken in a dress. “She only wants to wear jeans and her circle of influence is only male, she only ever plays with boys,” the mother shared. Now before all the feminists get their knickers in a twist, let me set the record straight the mother who said this has broken far many gender stereotypes than you could even think of. She like every mother is concerned that she is doing right by her child. Some other mothers and I too shared with her that there is nothing to worry, all our girls were the same. My almost teen daughter hates wearing dresses, skirts, and any attire feminine, if it were not for her shoulder length hair and love for nail art she would easily pass off for a boy, so ‘tom-boyish’ is she. Pretty princesses are passé, make way for the girls of today, who are pretty kickass (pun intended.)
Some of us women and I will stress on some, straddle both worlds with complete confidence. We follow our dreams working in any field that we want to and are successful at it. We multitask and can maintain a work-life balance that is the envy of the men in our lives. We dress as we please and travel where the wanderlust takes us. When we sit at home to nurture, we do it on our terms and with complete conviction. A friend of mine who works with large groups of Graduate students once told me that in his fifteen years he has seen girls evolving in confidence far more rapidly than the boys he teaches. He said that he worried for the boys and the kind of men they would become.
This brings me to my first conversation of the day, with someone who is very precious to me. I caught him on a day that was even in at the beginning of it was proving to be yet another in a series of stressful ones. I may ruffle some feathers here, but then I’m a self-proclaimed bad feminist. While we women are breaking the shackles that centuries of gender stereotyping made us wear, the men are struggling stuck under the yoke of theirs. While we endorse a girl’s right to be a ‘tomboy’ and find her wings and soar, the boy that wants to play with a doll is frowned upon and it would send his parents into a tizzy of anxiety if he ever asked to wear a dress. The expectations on men today sometimes to me appears harsh. He continues to be (in most cases) the primary bread winner, he continues to be expected to be emotionally the stronger one, to be tough, to be protective and to defend himself. Then why is it so wrong that he should want to come home to an atmosphere of love and support after a tough day and unwind with the love and laughter of his family rather than come home to an angry parent or a spouse waiting with their own expectations weighing heavily against him? I’ve made my own share of demands, yet I have learned from my mistakes and what they cost.
Some women would say that after centuries of dominance they deserve it. I pose this question to them, should the sins of the father be held against his son? While we celebrate our emancipation let’s also have some compassion for our men, only then can we hope for true gender equality.