I have never considered myself to be a feminist, and this is coming from a female engineer.
The gender role of traditional Indian women is a topic that has always been up for debate, but not one I have actively participated in. However, in recent times, the number of men in my life who have ideals that are borderline chauvinistic has left me a little shell-shocked. I have been nurtured in a liberated Indian society that sings songs about the power of equality. At a macro level it all seems great but if you dig deeper you will see the scary ideologies that Indian men refuse to let go off.
Have you ever heard of the term wife material? It had never really bothered me, until, I was given a first hand glance into the way an Indian man differentiates the so called ‘wife material’.
Woman 1: A highly paid women excelling in her chosen field, average looking, travels, has many friends – most of them male.
Woman 2: A mediocre but steady career, above average looks, dresses traditional.
Woman 2 is the only ‘wife material’ in this scenario. If one decides to put on a façade of a traditionalist, she would automatically possess qualities such as the ability to cook, clean, and be a caring and loving person. You don’t even need to know this person to know that they would make the perfect wife.
You may know Woman 1, you may have many friends that are Woman 1, but Woman 2, boy oh boy – she is the real deal! She can work 8 hours a day, come home and clean the house, cook me a meal, pack me my lunch, clean up again and repeat 365 times – all while wearing a sari.
How do men still have these twisted fantasies that differentiate woman by what they choose to show the world? Supposedly if you can cook and clean, amongst many other silly attributes – you make a suitable wife! In fact, you don’t even have to be able to do those things to be considered, you just have to present yourself like you would.
We live in a world of fast food and vacuum cleaners, why are Indian men hung up on having a maid as a wife? Why can’t we, still, make a move towards wanting a significant other whom challenges us? Why are women that portray suppression deemed to be suitable to wed? It is shameful to be sitting amongst people that still disregard woman as their equal – professionally and personally. Why can’t we celebrate women for their achievements, as men are constantly done so in our society?
These aren’t the only cracks in this society. There are men who expect the woman’s family to bare all wedding costs. There are men who will expect their wife to move in with their parents, leaving the people who have raised her for the past 20 something years. There are men who will expect a women to stop working after she has kids. None of these, if discussed are an issue, it is the expectation that said thing must happen that is the problem.
I had never really considered myself to be a feminist. But after cracking the surface of our Indian society and looking at all the micro problems we still have in the Indian society – I will happily be a feminist.
Disclaimer: Because, there always has to be one on such fiery opinions. This is my view, my opinion, my thoughts – and it does not apply to every single person out there.