This isn't exactly a feminist tirade, but this is written by a woman, and it is written in annoyance.
You raise your girls to be sweet, strong, and independent. (Wise parents teach their children to listen to opinions and discard or heed accordingly. The other ones just teach their kids to bullshit everything that everyone says. Still others bring up girls to be on guard and forget that spine so that everyone thinks well of them. I am not sure which is worse, but I detest people shoving their opinions down other people's throats in a show of liberation, so I'll lean towards the former. But only slightly.)
As the gender construct of being a 'female' is pushed even further, you teach your daughter complicated activities – driving, perhaps, sending them off away from home, wearing a sari (those freaking pleats!), cooking and de-veining prawns for added advantage.
At the end of that, you have a person who genuinely dislikes blending into anything, doesn't like being taken for granted, upholds the notion of having a personality, finds other people’s egos onerous, has her opinions and is sometimes, irritatingly dogmatic about them, and is not pleasant. People who know their minds and speak them aren’t always that.
Now, where are the men to handle these women? Where do the parents teach their sons that their wives are people in their own right, that they may have very sharp differences about important things, and they won’t always be nice and soft-spoken? Why are the sons not taught to see and understand the extra mile a woman has to go through while getting married? After all, leaving behind one’s family, friends, almost an entire lifetime spent in a particular mould – can’t be easy. It is human to resent it once in a while. It is human to wonder if it is being worth it. Why aren’t men taught to be mature enough to confront that?
I’m not even talking about the working-woman syndrome. From what I’ve seen around me, men are definitely much more willing to help around the house than before. And they genuinely seem to be happy if their wives earn more than them. So that’s nice.
Why do they not understand the million little things a woman gives up during the marriage? (No, I don’t know the sacrifices a man makes – and please, fewer evening-outs with friends is not a SACRIFICE.) Not having a support system in a new place is a sacrifice. The pressure of finding a job in a new place after a break is a sacrifice. Relinquishing all comfort of familiarity in the trust of someone else is a sacrifice.
I think it is quite the norm now that when the girl goes to her husband’s house, her parents tell her that if anything goes wrong, she can chuck it all up and come back to them. But I don’t think the sons understand that yet. Somewhere down the line, it has not quite sunk in that the exit option for girls is strong as well.
Why don’t the men understand that for a woman who has been earning her bread, it is difficult to ask her husband for money until she gets a job? (And getting a good job is difficult and takes time.) If a woman hasn’t asked her parents for extra cash to get along, then going to her husband won’t be a blithe transition. It’s not the ego.
Why is it difficult to appreciate that not all women take to the fact that her husband’s friends will be her friends?’ (Personally, I detest that mindset. Hell. I will make friends with the pigeons if I have to, and not just simply tag along like a stupid accessory to all dos. Rubbish nonsense, I tell you.)
Why is it difficult to get it in the head that when you develop a sense of self, you will have these questions? You will have these doubts. And what is expected of the man is some intelligent sensitivity. A little silence when he actually walks a mile in his partner’s shoes and sees things from her point of view.
While we have been focusing on our girl-children, we have neglected our boys. They just aren’t ready to handle who they’ll be with.
One day, Anumita and I were discussing how much fun it is to have baby girls. Cute frocks and little bows and pink drapes in the nursery, her cute passport photograph on her graduation day, smart pants for her first job, etc. etc.
And Chandrika, ever our voice of reason told us, that today it is just as important to have a son and bring him up well – the kind of man we would want our daughters to marry.
She said it.