While there are a lot of issues that women of India are going through; equality is something we strive to achieve to ensure women rights, opportunities and respect is preserved. Feminism is a term that comes up in every discussion about women’s rights. Feminism by definition is:
While the definition is very simple and straight forward, sadly it is often misunderstood by a lot and has become synonymous to “hating men”. These pseudo-Feminists (hereon, p-Feminists) believe, that equality can be achieved only by dividing the responsibilities of a household equally between men and women; OR by making women do what men do and vice-versa.
India has a patriarchal society? True. It has given many unfair advantages to men? True. It has robbed women in all possible ways? Not entirely true. It has given advantage to men in all possible areas? Not entirely true again. The p-Feminists, attack the patriarchal society and define feminism as a movement to give these advantages to women; while to completely overlook a big never-talked aspect of it. There are some advantages that are given to women by this very patriarchal society and some disadvantages given to men. When these p-feminists talk about equality, they completely forget to mention these or overlook these.
Let’s look at them one by one.
Becoming Independent is a must
A man must always strive to stand on his feet by his early 20s; if he ever wants to get married to an Indian woman. If you don’t have a job or business of your own setup by your early 20s, you are doomed. But women on the other hand, do not have any such requirement. Hence earning is important only for men. An otherwise great guy (loving, caring and respecting family and society) is not good enough, if he doesn’t earn. It is still perceived as a disgrace for men, but not for women. Women are never judged for their earning potential.
It is implicit that the man will arrange a house to live. The patriarchal society puts the onus of buying a house on the man. One of the things that women are spared from. Owning a house, while managing in one person’s income is not an easy task. But still Indian men happily manage it without complaining. So after becoming independent, this is the first thing every Indian man strives for. Not to mention the other amenities like car, luxury etc.
Learn to be a man
The women of India have to go through ‘torturous upbringing’, as they have to learn to cook in their teenage, while men are spared from it. True. A p-Feminists once said “my brother can’t even make a sandwich to survive, while I must know cooking else no one will marry me“. But she failed to mention how guys are pressurized to become a ‘man’ by this patriarchal society. An Indian guy is taught to stand on his feet by his early 20s (as I mentioned earlier), else no father will give his daughter’s hand to him for marriage. These are the exact words of Indian parents. Man are supposed to not get into drinking/smoking or any disputes which may lead to negative reputation in the society; else he’ll never get married. A Indian is supposed to be owning the tough tasks and responsibilities.
For example: Once we were visiting my grand-parents. We (me, my parents and my sister) got into a car and started off. Few miles later we got a flat Tyre. So my father asked me to get the tools and change the Tyre. I changed it without any complaints, while my sister enjoyed the music sitting on the sidewalk. I am not complaining, but I am telling the flip side.
A man must know finance very early in the age, so that he can manage the money and savings for future life, apartment, spouse and kids. Girls (in my family and social circle) on the other hand don’t know a bit about it.
So If the family goes through a financial crisis, It will be considered the man’s fault. Pick the luggage on every family trip, drop your sister to her friend’s place or coaching class and pick her up, let her buy anything she likes and you spend carefully cause you will need savings for future etc. These are some things that p-feminists will never acknowledge.
The embarrassing questions
India still is a country where majority of marriages are arranged. Many girls have objection when the two families meet and the guy’s family ask questions from the bride. What they forget to talk about is, the guy has been through his round of questions already.
- How much you earn,
- How frequent are your increments (if in a job),
- Have any side incomes?
- Does you own a house or lives in a rented apartment,
- How sound are you financially and so on (Talking from personal experience, if the guy earns more than 15LPA INR, still the questions come from girl’s father).
- Will you be able to manage expenses of my daughter?
Surprisingly, Indian men never complained about it. They considered it a moral responsibility to be the bread-earner. Why so? The patriarchal society, right? They grew up learning that they’ll have to bear the responsibility of the whole family on their shoulder, but they never complained about it.
The Earning Lady
As India is growing and changing day by day; more and more women are now educated and independent. It is a good change. But what hasn’t changed is the underlying mentality. It is almost impossible to find an Indian women who will agree to marry an unemployed guy. While countless Indian men, don’t oppose marrying an unemployed girl. When we really want equality for gender, we’ll have to come out of the conventional paradigms. The p-feminists, don’t talk about it. The more the girl earns, the more she wants the guy to earn.
For whatever reason dowry started, it must end. I remember a trending image on Facebook, where a girl holds a placard which read “I don’t need to pay you to marry me“. While I fully support the underlying concern, i.e. end dowry; I don’t agree with the way it is written on the placard. Indian man are not solely responsible for this. Men and women both are. Read my older post to understand why (Dowry will live). It is the guy’s parents who demand dowry, not the guy. In most cases, he doesn’t even have a say in it. But the p-feminist blame it all on young men. Also, in many cases, the girl’s family forcefully gives dowry, because somewhere for them it has become a status symbol as to how much they gave to their daughter in wedding. The p-feminists always advocate ending dowry and splitting the marriage expenses between both families; which is not wrong, but only half side of the story.
The sister of Dowry
While we are at it, let’s talk about one more tradition that must end. Wondering what it is? The tradition of covering the bride in gold jewelry and expensive clothes. It is very expensive, and completely owned by groom’s family. No matter dowry is taken or not, this custom is carried out. The fact that it is never mentioned in any article, is sad. Whatever it is, show off of groom’s family, or an old rotten custom; it must end.
Men starts Saving, and Women start Spending
As already mentioned, Indian man become independent very early in 20s. The struggle doesn’t end there. Indian men start saving right after they start earning. Deposits, stocks, real-estate-property, Govt. bonds, tax saving schemes etc are on their mind from the day they get their first salary. The reason is same, they have to buy a house, a car and all other amenities that will be required to start a family; (house being the most expensive). However, the scene for young women is different. Young earning women laugh off the topic of saving and freely spend without any thought in the back of their head of any pressure of saving. The p-feminists will never acknowledge this unfair advantage women have over men in this case. Hopefully when we’ll have gender equality; women will also start saving before marriage and will enter the relationship will whatever they have saved just like men do. And hopefully it will not be considered dowry.
The Demanding Indian bride
The urban Indian girls, have come up with some conditions that they feel will bring them equality and are totally inline with feminism. Note: They feel.
A guy cannot share his opinion about girl’s job. A man is criticized if he tells her to work, because “what kind of a man wants his wife to earn for the home”, (‘patriarchal’ society). And he is judged. And if he asks her to quit her job because he promises to take full responsibility of her. What he gets in return is, “why don’t you get a maid if all you want me to do is, sit at home and cook for you.” That’s one of the dilemma an Indian man is stuck in.
Not sure how the tradition started, that girl goes to the guy’s house after marriage. But p-feminists believe that true equality will be achieved when the guy also dumps his parents behind and settle in a separate city. But many p-feminists girls are not comfortable with it, when the Indian man in question is their brother. So not sure what kind of equality we are trying to achieve.
Many urban Indian men, somewhere have come from a small town, became independent and live in a metro or tier 2 city. But the brides come with a condition (even if they are from a small town) that the guy should never relocate to a small town. This is said to ensure that the girl always wishes to enjoy a good lifestyle. I am not sure how much is this in control of the guy; but he has to agree to this. Of course, everyone want to have a good lifestyle; but life is full of surprises. You cannot predict what happens in future. There could be several reasons of moving to a small town. May be 10 years later one wants to quit the hectic job and start a business in their native place. How can one predict that they’ll stay in metro city for the rest of their life. So what this tells me about the women is that she is majorly looking for a lifetime guarantee of a lavish lifestyle that can keep her happy. While marriage was used to be an institution where both should stand by each other in their ups and downs. It is not about one person’s happiness. Now it has just become a business contract.
Wherever we are going with this, this doesn’t sound like equality.
Seeking support for escaping
Many Indian man, (including the ones I’ve met), are often poked by some prospective brides on social networking websites, to help them in getting away from the ongoing marriage proposal between their families. They expect the guy to say NO to the proposal, because ‘they’ don’t want to marry right now. They expect the guy to take care of the whole situation and take the whole blame of rejecting the proposal and face his parents because they cannot face their. Gone are the times when only girls used to be pressurized for getting married soon. Guys are equally pressurized by parents. I am one of them. And it’s not easy for me to say no, just because you can’t handle your parents.
Also, I’ve seen cases where the guy went out of his way to help the girl and rejecting the proposal from his side. But all he got in return was bashing from the bride’s family for being arrogant and proudy. The girl will not come for his savior.
The Draconian Indian Laws
Indian laws were intended to protect women from Dowry, rape or any sort of assault. But sadly they are so poorly designed that they are being grossly misused. The urban India has matured and many women are now in better condition than before, but rural India still struggles to reach here. Many Indian women have gone beyond and started misusing these laws to overpower men and many time innocents men. I’ll let the videos speak about the facts.
Also Indian laws are highly sexist. Here’s a snippet of IPC 498A, Dowry Act.
Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty.—Whoever, being the husband or the relative of the husband of a woman, subjects such woman to cruelty shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
So a man cannot be subjected to cruelty? Is that not possible? There are cases of Men being abused by their wives. Physical and mental both. But India doesn’t have that kind of scenarios defined. The p-feminists too, smartly keep mum on it.
Role of Media
After watching the above listed videos, you might have wondered that if this problem exists, why you haven’t read about it in any paper so far. Well, your question is a valid one; but Media is smart. They only print, what sells. Newspaper or television, are not interested in reporting about abused men, or men who committed suicide because of false rape/dowry allegations. If it is about a woman, they’ll cover make it a breaking news. Recently Supreme Court, looking at the increasing misuse of Dowry law, passed an order that “immediate arrest should not be done in case of Dowry complaint”. Media projected this in a negative light as they know this will resonate with the daily news readers; while hiding the facts based on which Supreme Court passed this order.
Victim of Generalizations and portrayed as a Criminal
On a daily basis, ALL Indian man are bashed for the raped women or dowry-victim, in the far corner of India. Social media, newspaper, television channels, blogs and debate shows/forums. Every one of them holds every Indian man responsible for each rape case in India. The p-feminists can quickly jot down an article criticizing ALL Indian men, using their dictionary made of words like male-dominant, patriarchal, chauvinistic etc. These articles are very much one sided, very insensitive towards Indian men and very inconsiderate of the feelings of countless innocent Indian men. Nobody cares how much a common Indian man, like me, respects the women in his life like his mother, sister, girl-friend, wife, female-friends, classmates, peer, neighbor or any stranger women on a bus/train and has done nothing wrong to any of them.
After every rape/sexual-harassment incident, every man is tagged as rapist and pervert. No one gives a thought to how these articles floating everyday on social media, are impacting the young women of India and filling their mind with negativity towards all Indian men. (see my latest other post for details – Rapes in India – The Survey)I am not making this up. Every day I am seeing how girls in my social circle are turning hostile by seeing this content on a daily basis. Comments like ‘you men are disgusting’, ‘stop being sexist’ etc are not so pleasant coming out of anger. Tell me this, what’s the first thought that runs through your mind when you see a guy and a girl fighting in a public place? .. “Stupid man! who fights with a woman. Bastard!” isn’t it? Now think for a while, why are you assuming that the guy is wrong in this fight? Do you ever bother to give it a second thought? I personally have seen fights where women have been wrong.
See this video and decide for yourself. And feel free to try this in India.
This media has been doing more harm than good in the name of women empowerment and awareness. It has changed how young women of India think. For example, an Indian man is judged for being concerned about his wife/spouse/girlfriend’s safety. How? He asks her to avoid wearing short clothes in some areas and in certain times. Before you bash me, wait for it and let me complete. I know he has no right to dictate what she wears. But, hold on for a moment and think why is he saying that. Is he concerned about her safety? He said many other things like that. For instance, yesterday he said, “don’t travel after 11PM in the local train it is not safe”. You weren’t offended then? Then why today? In both scenarios, isn’t the underlying concern of the guy same? But why do we judge him for the former? Everything can be misinterpreted if you look at it in a negative way. I don’t blame young women for this, I blame media and p-feminists who write article, shoot survey-videos and upload them on youtube just to get TRP and views. These p-feminists feed her with so much of negativity and insensitivity, everyday.
So coming back to the point. We do want equality. But equality means respect and opportunities be given to each person irrespective of their gender. It’s not about taking it away from one and giving it to other. It is more about working as a team in every household and family out there. My request to young women of India is, don’t be mislead by what you see; because there is a lot going out there that you don’t see. So don’t make opinions and avoid being a pseudo-feminist.