A Feminist Man

I grew up at a home under the tutelage of more women than men, my grandmother, my mother, my sisters, aunts, friends of my grandmother from her prayer group, more aunts, neighbours who would stop by to speak to my mother or my grandmother. And being that strange oddball of a kid, unlike my peers, I would prefer staying at home and watch life pass me by, reading a book, being shy, something I was best at. I remember late winter afternoons, schools closed for holidays, when my grandmother and mother, their faces tired from the chores, solemnly sitting, but invigoratingly discussing the chores for the evening. They would seldom stop. Dinner for my father, something for my grandfather who would be home soon, the clothes had to folded into near squares, water had to be heated, the home had to be dusted. In the little less than an hour time meant to calm their senses their minds would be frenzied planning and prioritizing! While they slogged, were the first ones to wake up, the last ones to sleep, the last ones to eat, the last ones to be asked after their well-being, they carried on smiling, never questioning, never stopping, never resting. Even after all these years, of asking them to stop and live for themselves, they refuse to change and have, without any qualms, made peace with this.

But they are happy, now, that my sisters do not have to do all they had to do and are living a life outside the patriarchy induced claustrophobic walls of home. They find peace and joy in the thought that my sisters are not spending their lives inside the sweltering room of a kitchen, slogging from one meal to another. Little do they know, or maybe they do, that the clutches of patriarchy and inequality extend beyond the walls of a home. Unequal pay, unequal privileges, inequality is not limited to serving everyone and then eating, or preparing a Sunday meal. It remains sadly and disastrously embedded in the air that we breathe.

The world throws glaring examples each day. Our glorious cinema industry where our male actors never retire and never stop romancing women so much younger than them while our female actors fade away without notice. An older man married to a younger woman hardly raises a brow while an older woman married to a man younger than her has the world media wagging their tongues in disbelief! If a woman, with all her zeal and effort, reaches the pinnacle of her career, one when complimenting her success always begins, ‘for a woman, you have reached far and wide’! Does gender define intelligence and triumph? Is it dreadfully difficult to believe that a woman can outshine hundreds of men, that she is equally capable of leading? My home state of Meghalaya, situated in North-East India boasts of matrilineal society but we are also, despairingly, a state, which has never had a woman Chief Minister! Is it so difficult to be equal, equal in thoughts, equal in privileges, equal in pay?

I have always enjoyed cooking and cleaning and I am often told how happy and blessed would my future better half be to find someone who cooks and cleans! Angrily I question why! Why must not chores be shared between a man and a woman? Why must we divide men and women into boxes of blue and pink respectively? Why must a woman eat after she has served everybody in the family? Why must a woman change her happy job when her husband is transferred to another city? Why must a woman always sacrifice and never question? Why is equality a mere concept and never practised in entirety?

Feminism-an equality, equal rights and not reducing opportunities to whether you were born as a man or a woman. I know now I have offended many men reading this post. I may have equally offended some women. However, the next time you casually remark, ‘It is a man’s world’ or see that a woman is the last person dining alone, or find yourself questioning why was your woman colleague promoted, and you assume that she used her sexuality to get ahead of you, do ask yourself ‘Am I being equal?’. Equality truthfully begins here, begins now and if you think I am being prejudiced, I, rather happily choose to be that offending feminist man.

Image Credit : Photo by Kourosh Qaffari from Pexels

41 thoughts on “A Feminist Man

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  1. I love the advances I see. I think, if things had been different when I was growing up I would have pursued being a mechanic of some kind. But that was not something I was encourage to do. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I do have to say though. In my life I have been encouraged by many women, but I cannot discount that I have been encouraged by even more men. I give thanks for that.

        Like

  2. Feminism as such a big word it sounds simply is a synonym for equality. Hope is that someday it will be a world where instead of paying heed to the gender, everyone will pay attention to the personality instead. Loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “It remains sadly and disastrously embedded in the air that we breathe.” A man saying this and asking the above mentioned questions, is proof enough that men can be feminists, and can understand what’s wrong with whatever is going around. However, anytime I come up with such views, I am certain to find a few people who get angry by my views. Fake feminism seems to be in the trend too. But the entire point here is to differentiate what’s wrong from right. And be it a man or a woman, really how difficult is it to understand that man can like cooking and cleaning and a woman can marry a younger man too. It’s their choice.
    #RESPECT for this post.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It will be an equal world one day Parikhit. Women leaders seem to have inspired the best national responses to COVID-19. That efficiency and care can only precolate down to the rest of us. As you say though, while practices such as honour killings carry on, there is much work to be done. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Parikhit, every little step counts. Gender biases are so deeply ingrained that it will take a few generations before equality will be all pervasive. I have never understood why “feminist” is used as a pejorative term!! You said it so beautifully. I wish there were more men like you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I completely agree with you. It may take years before we see things getting better, but they will eventually. And I fail to understand how can the term feminism connote negativity-many mistakenly assume feminism as something to do with hating men, which is so different from what feminism states for-equality. But I am certain good sense will prevail.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am optimistic that change will come, even if it takes a long time. Once we remove connotations from words, it becomes easy to see them for what they truly mean. I am with you…good sense will prevail.

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  6. I am so glad to read this post. Thankyou so much for writing it! We need more men like you in our society. Me being a women have heard this a lot of time when a women employee gets promoted “is she sleeping with the boss?” or “oh that’s because she wear those clothes”. Or remarks like “Women are bad drivers” there are tons if I start writing.

    About 5 days back I posted a blog on same topic: http://sharewhatyoufeel.com/2020/05/12/the-f-word/ . Do check it out if you have time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I completely understand and relate with you! The examples are way too many. But I hope it ends soon, may be the change has begun already.

      And thank you for the link. I will check it right away.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Grace Paley wrote and I paraphrase… »When you write in the language that comes to you from the street where you grew up, then you write something beautiful » you have that gift Parikhit, you write from your own store of wonderful and it speaks volumes!
    Grace Paley also put her finger on the issue when she said… »We are in the hands of men whose power and wealth have separated them from the reality of daily life and from the imagination. We are right to be afraid. » Grace Paley quote from http://www.goodreads.com

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a wonderful quote! It is indeed a sorry state of affairs-the world we have built and continue to build. But I hope the new generation realizes this and sows the seeds of change, for a happier and peaceful society.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think you will have made too many men unhappy. First of all I believe the majority of bloggers are women. The men who blog are likely open-minded and won’t be upset.
    I think the generations are dying out where men and women are pigeon holed into certain roles in the house, more sharing is happening because the newer generations of women will not stand for non-equality. Neither should they. Still there will be some roles that may be better suited for a certain gender. Men may take on the heavy lifting if it is a farm, and women will always be the ones breast feeding the babies. just saying. – Well written post because you shared your own story.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Perhaps you are right. The community of people here have always been open-minded and accepting. Although the generations of people who divide men and women into boxes and treat women less than men are gradually fading away, there are vestiges. In a country like India the desire for a male heir is so common and there are so many cases of female infanticide. Honour killing is another evil that has remained in several pockets in the country. We have miles to go indeed. Although there are certain roles that let’s say physically are meant for a gender, like breast-feeding as you write but there are roles that we laugh at when one gender takes it up. Say for instance a man teaching a kindergarten. Regarding a farm job, I am not very sure but I do think there are a lot of women who have excelled there. What I really intended to say was the ideas are deep rooted in our heads. I am guilty of that. I remember a friend and I were talking about the flight announcements and imitating it-when it came it to a flight steward to softened our voices and when it came to a pilot we switched over to a hoarser voice and then realized why are we doing that! In essence we need to take baby steps, each of us, to help make the society equal 🙂
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautifully said, my darling Pari, your love and respect for humanity comes through your urgent plea for disregard for gender. I truly believe the world will not find peace until men and women are valued equally, until that which is most other (women in men’s eyes) is myself. Thank you for your wondrous heart, and searching mind, sending love and sweetness your way *smiling clouds**yellow butterflies**pawprints in sand*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Joan. Yes you are right, our society is far from peaceful and happy unless every individual is valued for who they are, and where they come from. Equality and treating everybody with respect is what we need to call ourselves a developed world 🙂

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  10. Well articulated thoughts Parikhit. Though we call ourselves a modern society, there still exists many unsaid layers of gender inequality, even among the educated. While there is a growing awareness about this, It’s a long walk ahead for it to be treated with a level of equality.
    But just this afternoon, I read an article where Deepika, Alia and a couple of other actresses were actually paid more than their male actors for the same movie. So it’s a start.
    Btw, liked the title of the post 👍🏻

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much Radhika. Yes there are so many instances where we still lack that sense of equality which should in essence be the basis of our society. There are the tremors of change and I hope it stays.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Feminism is about equality, not about the superiority of women over men and you mention that too. While society is such, women themselves can sometimes be their worst enemy. Maybe, it’s the patriarchal upbringing that certain things are so ingrained in us that we take that as a norm. Sometimes many remain confused about the nuances of feminism altogether. Also, if someone feels happy doing something and wants to do it that way out of their own wish, that should be okay. To each his own. Such as, to eat after everyone in the house has eaten but having to do so as an expectation, then it isn’t done.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “While society is such, women themselves can sometimes be their worst enemy.” I have often observed that. It often reminds me of ragging-‘I was ragged, so I have the solemn right to rag’! That is a miserable thought process. Yes, feminism isn’t about hating a man or believing that someone is superior, it is about embracing equality and providing the right opportunity to everyone irrespective of their gender. Sometimes I feel we should call it Humanism, for everyone is born equal until we tell them so. And as long as someone isn’t coerced to let go of their dreams and wishes then it is alright but if not we have a problem.

      Liked by 3 people

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