Insulted! - Yes, that's what I felt after reading your column 'Don't worry, Be happy' that has been lapped up with great gusto as an inspirational article. While preaching against the 'regressive attitude' of the Indian society, you conveniently forget that you are peddling the same garbage in a shiny package.
You say // It would be a universe full of messy, aggressive and ego-maniacal males running the world, trying to outdo each other for no particular reason. There would be body odour, socks on the floor and nothing in the fridge to eat. The entertainment industry would die. Who wants to watch movies without actresses?//
Touche. Did you actually write that to make women feel indispensable! Should I feel proud with this new found wisdom that the world might collapse without women titillating men on screen, cooking food for men or picking up after men?
As a child, I noticed most of the women in the family embracing life as handmaids to their husbands to please the society. They wanted women to work too but women were rated on how well they cleaned up their homes, how well they could cook and how selflessly they played their role as a cook, maid, nurse, teacher, nanny and attendant in addition to their work lives. Sadly they never realized that they could choose to set their own boundaries and scale the ones planted before them.
Nobody hands over freedom on a platter. A woman needs to make that choice and it's not easy. Upsetting customs always tags the woman the worst way possible. The society will form opinions, ostracize, and even start rumors because the world hates/fears that it doesn't understand. But it is possible. A knowledge of a life beyond role plays gives power. And it requires breaking free from the customs not negotiating the conditions of captivity. These articles that encourage patriarchy in various forms are trivializing the cause.
Chetan, you compartmentalize men as aggressive and powerful, women as submissive and your solution is learning some aggression from the men. Do you think that the solution is giving it back to the Mother in law? Courage is not about being mean to people. And women don't really need to mimic the stereotyped version of men to be powerful. A decision to choose beyond 'what people think' would get a woman control over her life. A blanket rule of 'giving it back' is a wasteful energy leak. It's equal to a blanket rule of not confronting people at all - both different versions of cowardice. Also, while you are at this new Feminist Avatar, please take a course on gender neutral language. You assume that all the bosses are men // tell him that, or quit//
Your solutions: //Give it back to that mother-in-law…. if you are doing a good job at work and your boss doesn't value you - tell him that, or quit… It is okay if you don't make four dishes for lunch, one can fill their stomach with one. It is okay if you don't work until midnight and don't get a promotion. ….. Someone will make a better scrapbook for her school project than you. Another will lose more weight with a better diet. Your neighbour may make a six-dabba tiffin for her husband, you don't - big deal //
If we desire a truly egalitarian society, we need to overthrow the system of role plays- woman as the maid and the man as the leader. It should be OK if a woman chooses to be a home maker and it should be OK for a man to make that choice as well. If both choose to work, it shouldn't be indispensable for the woman to do 4 jobs- maid, nanny, cook and a career woman. She deserves a shot at success in her career just as the man. And that necessitates equal sharing of responsibilities. It’s not enough to delegate the chopping veggies job to the hubby or cook one meal instead of four. The household chores are theirs to begin with-not hers alone.
Emancipation starts by asking questions. Why the ration cards still show man as the head of the family? Why all forms have a section ‘son/daughter/ husband of’ ? Why the surnames infer some kind of property exchange- first the father’s and then the husband’s?.... When these questions are laughed off, I remember that the suffrage movement was termed 'silly' by most and so was the anti-slavery movement. We understand the significance of it all and the next generation would get it too.