Not long ago, my parents were upset about my younger sister coming late from her college. They were super freaked out about where she’d been all this time and why she hadn’t informed them about the delay. The poor soul, my sister tried to defend herself by saying that her mobile was switched off and the city buses were sparse. But they were not completely convinced. I could understand their parental anxiety at that time but then my mother said something unthinkable. “You should go to someone else’s house someday in the future. And if you keep behaving this way, you’re sure to bring dishonor upon us for raising you this way” – she said to my sister. Obviously she was referring to my sister getting married someday but somehow I found myself not agreeing with her notion that the pinnacle of my sister’s future is to get married and not her academic career. My father whom I always considered to be very liberal voiced out a similar opinion and that just forced me to stay mum.
I thought finally I could pen down my opinions on this subtle, but strong reinforcing of gender stereotyping in most middle class households. On a bigger picture, many of us feel that nowadays so many divorce cases are being witnessed only on the grounds that the wife is earning more and is far more successful than her husband. And even if the couple is fine with it, the society won’t let them accept it. I still remember when journalist Rajdeep Sardesai was slammed on all social platforms for asking Tennis player Sania Mirza about her plans to settle down and motherhood during a TV interview about her autobiography titled ‘Ace against all odds’. The twitterati also hailed Mirza’s response to this sexist question.
I was like, really? The society is made up of narrow minded people like us, who ourselves cannot accept the fact that women possess the capability to work outside home and successfully support the family in financial terms and the husband too can take care of the house properly. It’s all in our heads and not anywhere outside. It seems like there is a heavy book of codes based on which the society works! Till when will we keep blaming the society, when it’s our own minds that require the necessary programming?
We’ve come to a stage where we just accept the fact that no matter how successful a girl becomes, it’s her duty to pick up that tray of cups kept on the table and take it to the kitchen without instructions. This is not a natural instinct. It’s all about upbringing. On seeing that, young boys tend to start believing that no matter what, in no way is this a boy’s duty. This all starts from a very young age, be it boys or girls, in middle class homes. And there is also another side to it. Some say that homemakers are ‘innocent’ and are incapable of doing anything other than the usual household chores. It might completely be her decision to take care of her family and be meaningful to the society in her own way.
We should stereotype neither women, nor men.