Being A Superwoman Is Not Going To Help You
I generally like to keep the focus of my blogs on my personal experiences as the last thing I want to do is ruffle someone’s feathers but this time I couldn’t help it.
For eons, we’ve sort of been turning a blind eye towards inequality between genders. The frame of reference for closing in on the gender gap has continued to be quite retrogressive where we look back at how far women have come rather than how far we need to still keep going to close the gap and get an equal footing with men.
This appalling reality strikes us even harder as we are cooped up in-doors in an attempt to contain the COVID-19 contagion. This begs the question — are men truly doing enough to manage their personal and professional duties in the face of this adversity?
A recent news article on Daily Mail caught my attention where a female unapologetically highlighted the problem plaguing our society.
Let’s face it — I am NOT A SUPERWOMAN, stop holding me to these standards!
Well, don’t get me wrong — I could be a superwoman if I wanted to but do I have to? For me, it’s a euphemism and a cover up to make up for a man’s lack of involvement in the society at large.
I am fortunate to be married to a progressive man who likes to challenge the age old gender roles. Being an Indian, I see what a magnificent leap that is and sure we can keep going and keep patting ourselves on the back for being better off than our parents’ generation but would I call this a fifty-fifty partnership, probably not!
In many ways, like most women, I pull my husband’s weight. As I write this, a sense of content grips me as I know my situation is much better compared to most Indian women where this disparity is quite stark. Now this is what I am talking about, I too am influenced by the demons of the past — why do I have to look behind and around me to really gauge my husband’s contribution in our marriage?
Why can’t I take a step back and see things objectively for what they really are?
The truth is, keeping aside our professional lives, I do not think that we both hold equal responsibilities in our marriage. I am quite glad we live outside our home country and are on our own, this has probably propelled him to step up in his role of a husband in some sense otherwise in the tradition setting of a joint family his parents would have filled in for him at his bidding.
I hope for the time when there will be an equitable partnership in a marriage — where we are not held hostage to our genders.
The sad reality is that as women are leapfrogging to become financially independent and just as competent as men; men are becoming lazy. Indian men in general, have increasingly begun to reset expectations which has set women up for failure as they now have multitude of roles to play — forcing them to be a superwoman.
Roles a modern woman today has to fulfill
- Women are expected to fill the shoes of their mother-in-law to ensure their husbands are not forced to step beyond their comfort zone after marriage. This, in fact, becomes the yardstick to judge if she is a ‘good wife’
- Women have to stand shoulder to shoulder with their husbands to financially support the family
- Women need to embrace her husband’s family with gusto even though the husband shows little to no inclination to accept her family as his own
- Women have to be socially active and manage relationships with friends and family, well because — why not?
- Women need to look after themselves to make sure they look impeccable else face the wrath of the society by being chastised that she is not ‘woman enough’
- Lastly and more importantly, women have to look after their children while husbands play a comfortable second fiddle because women are the primary caregivers — isn’t that how mother nature intended it?
Once we’ve tackled the issues above and have a level playing field, we will be in a position to truly talk about feminism because the conversation can only begin and be understood once the gender roles have been equalised.
We can embark upon feminism once the judgment towards the fairer sex has been withheld and they are given a clean slate.
We will be a feminist society when the basics have been fixed:-
- The birth of a girl child isn’t lamented
- Girls are provided equal opportunities in all fields just like boys
- Men step up to their roles and take things off the woman’s plate
- We stop looking at things from the lens of a gender to adjudicate what is acceptable in the society vs what’s not
While Asian countries like India are universally known to be patriarchal in nature, it’s a shame that even other western developed countries are not galvanising towards closing the gender gap. The world needs to take a leaf out of the Nordic countries’ playbook to become egalitarian societies but unfortunately while these countries are shining examples of gender equality, there’s still work needed there to attain true equality as disparities like pay gap continue to be unaddressed problems.
Where does this leave us? How can we make a difference?
For starters, stop judging other women. Cut them some slack, you don’t know their story. Please look beyond their provocative outfits, dramatic makeup, their chutzpah and ambition to identify yourself in them. Leave your judgements behind so this mentality catches on and we show a united front to men so they don’t subliminally relegate us to second class citizens by judging us as well. Men need to value us for who we are and what we bring to the table.
Find strong women role models — there are great women today that are continually striving to push the envelope. Women like Indra Nooyi, Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michelle Obama, Priyanka Chopra, Beyonce amongst many others are truly awe inspiring personalities who have dared to take a ride against the tide and ensured they are not trifled with.
Find a woman you can empower and elevate. Be it a family member, a colleague or a friend. Be her sounding board and help her unleash her potential. Have faith in her. She may just be hidden in a chrysalis doubting if she will ever make it to a butterfly. Augment this solidarity and form a sisterhood to support the women around you. Then build and amplify your fiefdom by rallying around these women.
Because until we all play our parts and fix the problem at the grassroots, being a superwoman for your spouse is not going to help you!
Originally published at https://neeti21bisht.wixsite.com on August 15, 2020.