When my kids were young I saw friends struggling with their jobs and babies, guilt ridden, short of time, confused and judged by many. I sympathized and was relieved I didn’t have those worries. Within a few years their kids grew up, just like mine did, many were more independent, but many were just like my kids. A few more years and here I was feeling left out, lost and even useless, and they all had risen in their careers, their kids were proud of them.
I was envious for a while, but then I realised I was doing all the things I loved to do, we all had made choices and I did not need to be a superwoman. That’s my take on feminism and Stay At Home Moms.
I don’t think Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs) are necessarily better moms, I don’t think we made any sacrifices, yes I did get to spend more time with my kids, yes we are very close, but so are many working mothers’ kids. I have seen fathers boiling milk, feeding the kids, bathing them, putting them to sleep, taking them to the park. Some of these cool dads had working wives, some didn’t. If they invested time with their kids the biggest beneficiaries were not the mothers (though I assure you we are very proud of these guys) – it was these bold, loving, involved dads themselves. My husband was one of them. I wasn’t working but I needed an occasional break, and he took the kids to the club so I could read/sleep/just sit in peace for sometime. The kids still remember those times with loving smiles
For those who think women must stay at home and care for their kids, decide then if you want Sania Mirzas, Indira Nooyis, Renuka Chaudhurys etc to stop working, or start so late they never reach influential posts? We need female representatives in every field. We do need women, doctors, lawyers, teachers, astronauts, politicians, I think feminism means letting women (and men) make choices. And then supporting them. Mothers, just like fathers, need support to raise happy families. We all rave about ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’. We should also appreciate the fact that, “Behind every successful woman there is a man.” Sadly, sometimes the man is not there as a support.
Feminism is good for society. It frees all humans, including men, from unnecessary, useless ‘have to fit in‘ expectations. Feminism is about justice for women, and indirectly, justice for men. Feminism, for men, means having life partners in the truest sense and not ‘wards‘ or ‘responsibilities‘. Sharing of responsibilities, a friend to laugh with, a woman empowered to stand by your side through every crisis and joy. An intelligent conversation. An argument between two equals. Shared interests. A live-in friend
Feminist men can help create a better society by making sure that they treat their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, colleagues, bosses, neighbours, customers and friends, as equals. It’s easy, just treat them as individuals. Feminism is good for the society, because feminism is all about refusing to accept injustice. No society can thrive if half it’s population is treated as second class citizens.
Change rarely happens suddenly, but if we learn to question set norms, we can at least start the process. I am proud to say our kids know that, with or without any laws or social customs, both have equal property rights and equal responsibilities. No dowry for Daughter instead she will have her inheritance, just like her brother will. And it is equal, not the humiliating one third or half of his.
Feminism also means not blaming your daughter, sister or any woman if they are harassed by some lecherous creeps. Feminism is realising that sexual harassment related crimes are a law and order problem, and not a woman’s (or the way she was dressed!) fault, such crimes are more prevalent is societies where women are not treated equally.
Feminism is also ringing the bell if you suspect domestic violence. Let the batterer know you will not consider such brutality a ‘family matter’.
I wish I could say, ‘That’s it.’, but unfortunately we live in a society that allows injustice to thrive, and even the horror of Paros in Haryana, and a gender ratio of 750:1000 has not wiped the stigma from the word ‘feminist‘. When they talk about feminism, even today, most women start with denying they are feminists …