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Unraveling Ruminations

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What Is The Modern Woman Made Up Of?

Out of the many adjectives assigned to a woman, "modern" is one of the most popular and heard. But who is a modern woman? The one who dresses herself in western outfits, speaks fluent English, drinks and smokes and earns her living? Of Course, she is a modern woman but is modernity restricted to these only? Just a few days back, one of my cousins who is going through the rather tortuous process of arranged marriage i.e meeting prospective grooms and interacting with theirrespective families, told me about one of her not so desirable experiences. My sister had to interact with a rather educated, accomplished, working, urban woman, who was the mother of the person my sister was courting. My sister, being considered the prospective daughter­in­law of the family was asked if she knew how to cook. My sister's reply was that she had been so busy with her academics and then work that she hadn't really had the time to try her hands. However, she was very willing to learn from her would be mother­in­law and happily take up the responsibility as a welcome part of marriage. The lady was disappointed with the answer and mentioned that they were looking for someone who was actually good at cooking and can cook everyday meals for her son as the latter had a difficult to satiate taste bud. No wonder, the association and the prospect of marriage was called off. Sigh!

My purpose of narrating this whole conversation is to arrive at the point that surprises and troubles me.I am not against cooking nor against the idea of learning how to cook before or after your marriage whatever. But the issue is how can an educated woman like the one talked about here expect her educated and working daughter ­in ­law to have mastered the art of cooking by the time she was barely 25 years old! Did her son know how to cook? Did she ever teach his son to cook for himself especially because he was a foodie and might have actually enjoyed the chore. The answer is obvious and the problem is most of us like this particular lady embraces modernity in clothes and not in mentality. Being modern is about developing a mentality that understands, appreciates and enforces equality instead of posing an ultra modern look outside and carrying age old customs, traditions, conventions and stereotypes buried deep within yourself. With the adjective modern in my mind, when I compare this woman and the girl who clads herself in oversized cotton salwar kameezes, oils and ties her hair in plaits and travels 3 hours each day by train to get a degree in polytechnic to earn a living and support her family, I find the latter a lot more modern and modern in the truest sense of the term.

Almost all of us talk about the equality of men and women. Unfortunately very few of us implement such equality within the smallest sphere of our own lives. In a so called urban family, a son and a daughter grows up in the same way with the same amount of attention to their education and career. A woman today works as hard and earns as much as her male counterpart yet the expectations from a female are so many. I do not doubt the fact that society is changing and the present generation is witnessing some of the most amazing sons, husbands and fathers. Yet, the bridging of the necessary gap requires too much of sincere effort and understanding. To be modern in the true sense, we need to understand the concept of being modern at a much deeper level than clothes, food habits and diction.

Gloria Steinem, an American feminist, journalist cum social­political activist once said in one of her speeches that "I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career".And it speaks volumes.


About the Column : Through my column, I will explore the various issues, stereotypes and prejudices that plague women and everyone around them. The observations, write-ups and stories in this column will serve the purpose of making women believe in themselves and breakthorugh the barriers. Unraveling Ruminations is about weaving together relationships, beliefs and everything else in an indomitable pillar called Life.

About the Author : "Currently playing the role of a technical writer in a corporate organization in Kolkata, I am a humanist, observer and a strong believer in gender equality and women empowerment. Writing is my passion and I love writing on anything that comes spontaneously to me. A very family oriented person by nature, I am a proud daughter, wife and daughter-in law to the most amazing people on earth"


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