Friday, November 14, 2008

An 'ism' misconstrued!

I have been tagged by Cris and quite a serious tag it is... No rules to list, it’s about writing your opinion on feminism.

Now this was a really foreign topic for me.I first heard this word in Suresh Gopi movies where he would be accusing a lady IAS officer/ journalist of being a feminist blah blah…and more blah…
Later on I began noticing these words on the covers of magazines like Femina, still having no clue what was this all about…

And finally when I am tagged I began wondering what the heck is this all about!

I checked in wikipedia and it says Feminism is defined as the belief of the political, social, and economic equality of women. Well I couldn’t find a fault with what was written there and I wondered why there is so much hue and cry about it…

Feminism in principle is noble and necessary but it seems that the society due to radical feminism have given negative connotations to the whole idea. Men often look at feminist as someone who doesn’t trust them. Men often think feminist are after domination over men…These concepts are probably due to the wrong approach followed by many feminists...Its not having the large scale social agreement, as say a concept like “NO to racism” which is universally agreed. Coz the idea of feminism itself is skewed.

My idea of feminism largely agrees to the posts written by Cris...Pareltank and Silverine. I think the essence is in principal, equality and mutual respect. Atleast from my knowledge reading blogs, I have felt the crux of the problem for most Indian woman are generally restricted to work sharing at home, concept of dowry (which I wholly detest) and equality in office.

Well the power to bring this equality is in hands of woman…and they can be done in an eloquently silent way. I generally believe a person who influences us most as a child is our mother. At my home we have a certain set of rules (which ceased to exist as rules and became voluntary practice when better sense prevailed) which we follow…We all wash our plates ourselves after dinner…a habit which was inculcated as a child…We did our little job in the kitchen like dehusking and grating the coconut…making tea…cutting veggies ocassionally and like that…We washed our clothes ourselves until the washing machine arrived…and while my parents worked elsewhere we managed the home ourselves… For all these things I suppose I must have put up a fight as a kid and even tried to blame parents for child labour…;-D

But I guess more or less these were implemented by dad for two reasons…

1) To help reduce the workload on Mom
2) Just to make us prepared for the future…

And seriously am grateful for what he did there…And its not a stead and fast rule…we were never asked to do these during our exams...And I know that at times when we were going to kitchen to wash our plates Amma would try to come and do it for us because for her the motherly instincts ingrained over time (from older generations) was making her probably guilty!! . Thanks to Dad he never entertained it.

This is the whole point because I think any future parent should try to inculcate such habits in children... I remember that I used to find it demeaning when dad used to sweep the verandah in front of our house because that’s what dad’s were not supposed to do…Atleast as a kid I was probably a male chauvinist coz the society told me how it was supposed to be…Men don’t DO IT!!
And now when I look back I think it was pretty cool to clean your own house…or wash your own plates …and that’s the way it should be done!! All the ideals of feminism can be implemented by raising children properly and making them realise that you as a boy doesn’t entitle you to be pampered...neither a girl should shy away from having some grease on her fingers…

Many of the things shown in media like a husband cooking for his wife when she is tired from office is just exaggerated romanticism …Its shown as if the husband is doing something extraordinary...unfortunately woman generally glorify it by calling it ‘cute’… Stranger that a guy who knows to cook is even considered as bonus in a relationship. I rather thought it was a minimum standard and not anything to say hallelujah about…Well the point is things like cooking or cleaning the toilet is not cute for the average person and is a chore. So I wouldn’t blame if a partner says work should be shared….its natural extension of a good relationship which would be followed without even having to mention it….

Ever since I have come abroad…besides the place...culture etc...One thing at struck me here is how woman in general are so different here...They laugh as loud as men do in the buses or trains…They go out alone in night…Do all the shopping themselves…so many of em are cab or bus drivers...They are simply equal…I don’t think they have ever felt like given a second fiddle status which unfortunately is the case back home...One of my colleagues (her husband works in the same site as ours)accompanies us for lunch usually and her husband goes for lunch with his friends…I think it something of a taboo back home where a husband and wife is supposed to have lunch together…I thought how mature and sensible the guy was too…trivial things but a massive difference in perception the society has.

At the same time woman should learn to distinguish between men who are simply chivalrous and men who do it for you coz they think you are the weaker sex and out of pity…I think its tough to find who those sort of folks are…Don’t mix romanticism with own self respect!!

Probably the onus is on woman to define their ideals of feminism…I sincerely wish the woman of this generation brings the change taking into confidence men who must be scared or who have wrong notions….

Anyone who is interested can take up this tag!!

P.S. Listening to song from Hum Dono..If there are oldie fans out here...listen to another of my favs...damn they copied the jingle for om shanti om.


Cris said...

There! I told you you'd do a good job :-). Thanks for doing the tag, thats something I didnt really think of - that a mother could raise kids to respect these little things that make a huge difference.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Hey nicely done. I liked th rules in home, esp th one's abt washing clothes and doing small chores. I'd never washed my clothes at home and suddenly when i got away from home for my job, i'm finding it really tough. Even after one year away from home, i can't think of it anything other than a burden. Now i wish i'd done it a lot earlier. But i'd like to say one thing, having a working mother changes the whole situation at home. I've felt this with all my friends whose mom's work. They're much better at their duties in home. For guys like me who've had ther mom's at home, we take it for granted for mom to do all these jobs. My mom quit her job after i was born because she wanted to raise me as a fulltime parent. Many of her friends and relatives didn't like it and i've heard my mom itself say it was a bad decision when she's in a crunch situation. So i feel having a job will change the whole idea of feminism. Guys will definitly respect a gal who's working and adding onto the income at home, rather than just sitting at home and doing nothing. That's wat i tell all my friends who're gals.

saphire said...

ditto ditto ditto to everything there!!

only , if i had written it i'd probably b called a blazing feminist and u on the other hand will get a round of bouquets..atleast from the girls readin this..! :D :D

thank god there is atleast someone left who thinks this way! just for that..thank u :)

Dhanya said...

Good one.. It's true that parents are creating this kind of awareness(or lack of it) among children.. I remember my mom scolding my cousin for trying to wash his plates where as I was supposed to wash mine n his. She used to accuse my aunt saying she taught them this to unburden herself. But I now know who is right..

silverine said...

Let people who practice, preach/write I say. It is easy to write fancy prose on feminism while it is a totally different thing to practice it. Great post!

mathew said...

@Cris actually helped me redefine some thoughts...:-)

I agree to the fact that it is so easy to get lazy in a comfortable childhood...but at the sametime i beilieve the respect a guy got a woman should be irrespective of whether she is working or not...and most housewives do work at home..probably working men dont see it when they are in office..

I think i havent written anything taboo...just some basic thing every individual should follow..;-)

Please do take this tag sometime..

hmm..thats why i say mother's do have a big role in bringing the change..they can instill ideals much more effectively...and otherwise its too late when people are grown up by when they find it hard to change age old habits..

hmm...completely agree with you..I have written based on what I have followed till now..and based on what I intend to. I have written it understanding that there is a long way before I can authoritatively claim that i have stood by it.Infact what I have written would be generic ideals and not necessarily under the tag of feminism.

freespirit said...

The title rocks. I always felt we misinterpreted the idea of feminism.

And yeah, I think a lot of our thought process depends on the nature of our upbringing. If I am a feminist today its because of the strong examples my parents set. From washing clothes/dishes and cooking to parenting, my dad did equal work if not more than my mom. I remember having conversations with friends where they would praise their moms for being fab with managing so many things together and I would wonder why the dads didn't get mentioned :). I have seen girl friends having ambitions of getting a good job so that they would be married to good fellas. If I was amused by such ideas, its only because my parents couldn't stress enough the importance of being an independent individual irrespective of being male/female.

I don't know how much I agree to your idea that a lot of countries have gotten over their male chauvinism. Here in the USA, i found things are not too different from back home. Yes, women are a lot more independent. But when it comes to the professional environment, women still have to be much more aggressive and strong-willed to reach the top. The takeaway point is that there is still a need to promote feminism, both amongst women and men!

Seema said...

"Men often think feminist are after domination over men…These concepts are probably due to the wrong approach followed by many feminists."
Very True Indeed! Although you blamed "child labour" then isn't it proving to be helpful now :)
Nice post Mathew.

scorpiogenius said...

Appreciate you for coming up with such a topic, and the transparent noble intentions.. Cheers!

But on the topic, 'femisnists' are one breed of group I cant stand in this world. This is my personal opinion, formed by the acquaintance with some of the most idiotic and ridiculous group of women calling themselves 'feminists'..They just consider the whole male gender as born-enemies, appallingly arrogant and ignorant in attitude.. This, I cant stand.

I do believe that female empowerment is crucial to a fair society, and absolutely essential to the well being of mankind. No arguments. But there is a BIG difference b/w the so-called feminism being preached and practiced back there in our country and the real goals to be achieved. I share the same feelings about the German women you've written about, but do you think it is due to feminist ideologies?

I dont think so....

Women need to become the dominant member of the family and society, and feminism-the Kerala/ India way is no way to reach there.

Mishmash ! said...

For me, I associate the word more with mutual respect...i truly admire and respect the parenting model followed at ur home and i am sure thats what enables you to develop such a perspective

..... "Probably the onus is on woman to define their ideals of feminism…" : i guess if a woman needs to steer in that direction, she needs the support of her man who appreciates instilling such values.......I have seen many great guys like that but unfortunately i have come across young men who look for well educated girls but do not really digest the idea of she going for a meaningful job or career... for them , she is a pretty lil wife , a romantic idea to have all through their take care of them and the could be his insecurity or cheap male ego.....but there re guys like that too . and i am ashamed to note that most of them were from our own state!! these are guys with good edu'n ,high paying jobs who has travelled and stayed in western world too and thinks high of themselves but when it comes such things like girl holding an equal role in all the realms of relationship, hmm....then they do a totally different i wonder how much can be done by women if the other person is not appreciative of such value system!!!

mathew said...

exactly thats why a good number of men hate feminist. It all depends on the way you put it...for lack of a better comparison i would say its like a violent protest for peace.

I must admit there are slight change in these perception..More men do cook..or men are more open to these than it was 30 years would be hard to change mindsets of that generation..but definitely our generation cab bring the change and inspire future generations to follow it!

I have heard that it still exists in US...Atleast from what I have seen in Deustchland there is very little sexism in any sphere of life..I agree that in higher echelons of power woman still are pushed behind...neverthless its changing and woman are more confident than before.

I very much agree that it did a world of good for me..
Radical Feminism happened because woman were pushed to the walls sometimes..and we cannot expect the entire society to think in the same way..Some choose different approach which necessarily maynot be correct but drives home a point of how bad it is.

The kind of folks you are talking of are not exactly the feminists I know...Infact in principle as I mentioned in the post the folks whom you percieve as feminists are not even fighting for a right cause. Infact i havent yet met any such people.except for the exaggerated versions shown in movies..

The feminist I hear in media from back home are people who fight for the cause of woman who bear the brunt of domestic violence or sexual harassment. I think what they do is justified and needs encouragement.

and ofcoz talking of woman in germany..they are not feminist ideologies..I mentioned it to emphasise the fact that they are already as equal as men in everyday life and dont even need a wave of practical feminism which our society needs today..

glad to see your detailed comment on this..:-)

I agree that men should encourage woman to bring this change..after all you cannot clap with one hand!
My point was that woman should be the torch bearers of this change.

yes it is sad that so called western modern guys suddenly become a completely different person coming to his wife. Infact even today when you see marriage proposals it is subtely mentioned as "looking for a wife who is willing to stay at home" or in other words "to be the doll at home".

You have hit the nail when you said that..Infact its very difficult to change such mindsets esp after years of believing in them almost as if they are traditions. Thats why I emphasised that next generation of kids should be taught differently on such topics.

Divs said...

:) loved every line of it.
Yes,it begins from washing your own plates. Simple yet things that matter.
And the idea of lunching always together is boring ;) :P
Nice post mathew.
Lovely songs too! i somehow like oldies more than the new ones. :)

Destination Infinity said...

"The having some grease on her fingers" could have been expanded. I have never seen wives helping husbands repair or even clean the car, for example.

Destination Infinity

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Good tag!

On a lighter note; A man is incomplete until he gets married! After that, hes finished ;)

So long to Feminism ;)



Annie said...

its natural extension of good relationship. That one sentence contains all the meanings of feminism, chauanism or whatever it is. If the relationship is ketpt high in natural and good spirits feminism or chaunism cannot raise head. Good and educative post.

phoenix said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rahul S. Nair said...

You got it right...
When i hear a person is a Feminist I fear them... God knows what they think abt men!! It is misconsception shared from movies and other media. Where as Feminism by its original idea is a very good thing...
I have no probs seeing a woman as an equal... :)

Anonymous said...

Mathew,A very elaborate topic indeed,especially for we Keralites who now undergo a tremendous change in women and inturn family life.
a)Have noticed in many discussions/life that all understanding and respectable men are the creation of a beautiful family..(like we can understand a human being like mathew even without seeing,reading what he writes that he has such a family behind.Mind u,its not exaggeration !)Its our parents who first creates the first outlook..right ?
b)Like many words of such kind,"feminism" is been misinterpreted.. point may be what you have mentioned about feminists themselves.But a serious problem of giving such a prejudice picture of feminists is active at least in kerala.
c)after been against of such irreasonable and arrogant feministic perspectives for a while,again i found myself supporting the individual values of a woman created by family,books,thinking,friends and lot many..If one is aware,naturally respect and power can reach her..(many feminists groups lack this)
d)But Group activities should be on with levelheaded and reasonable women..
Keralam is still having all feminist characters picturised in tight jeans and other exposes..And dont forget mathew,in our movies,most of such women will finally be liberated by a strong Hero,and after that she will change to "SARI"..what a liberation..
Btw,I admire one such made up male chauvanist character of Mohanlal in Narasimham..(shaji is the best in this na ?)Induchoodan..Infact,the movie had a real thing..that where all men have gone today ?
Induchoodan samsaarikkatte..kaaranam ayaal aanoruththanaanaanallo ? A woman of heriones nature finally finds somebody she thinks "man"
I was lol that atleast the script writer of the movie had the awareness that real men are on extinction..
If anything offends you mathew,this is completely a woman's perspective.It largly depends upon how we see ourselves and how we wish to see us in a society..
Puraanangalil parayum Lord Siva ye describe cheythittu,"Ekapoorushan" ennu..siva maathramaanu paripoorna purushan ennu...My hubby usually comments this to escape from such discussions..ha ha.. mahaa kathi sahicha mathew,thava mangalam bhavathu:

mathew said...

thanks..and am an oldie fan too..

@Destination Infinity
yes it quite rare to see that...though as rare as guys entering kitchen as well..;-P

@Rakesh Vanamali
nice one..;-D

Its nice to hear from a person who has seen it all..thank you..
Would be intereting to read your take on this tag.

@Rahul principle its good..

hahaha..ofcoz no offence in that comment.:-)

"If one is aware,naturally respect and power can reach her" yes i agree as I have seen many woman who are respected without having to be vocal...

I think social fabric is changing in Kerala much faster than rest of the most people are aware of own rights..and probably this might create short term friction among people to gain acceptance..but probably a necessary friction..

the liberalisation of a woman from jeans to saree really poked fun at our senses..actually noticed about it they portray in movies after reading my friend's blog..

LOL!! at your closure line...;-D

Anonymous said...

Just see if this link can be of help to you.:

Sridevi R said...

Mathew, basically feminism is a decent idea. Acting against any injustice is humanity but going overboard is the problem. If the initiatives to change the situation of women is serious even a silent revolution can bring about a dramatic change. In all times there lived women who were respected and treated with equality for their qualities and knowledge. I think it is the mind that needs the liberation.

(You made me do some serious thinking...but I don't want to use all your space. If there is a 'go ahead' signal I can continue...)

Journey to Home.... said...

Very good post.. u did a good job.
Feminism is word which is misused by almost everyone specially the politicians. I personaly feel it should start from home. Infact parents should make sure that their kids are learning to give respect and importance to everyone equally irrespective of any gender biases. But sad part is it doesnt happen everywhere.