Today is International Women’s Day. Everybody knows this day. You can see the preparations for the day start a few months before. Corporates start planning celebration, games and lunches for the ladies in their respective organisations. There are marathons planned in honor of the day. Speeches and lectures are organized worldwide to discuss the greatness of women and how it’s highly important and relevant to society. This generally goes on for a week around women’s day, and then dries up. Then we go back to our routine. No further thoughts given to this topic till the next women’s day looms close.
What ‘should’ be done on Women’s day?
A question was asked in one of the “parenting” groups that I’m a part of. How can we use this “International Women’s Day” to imbibe the importance of gender equality in our kids? And people started responding with the stereotypical responses. Explain to the kids what women do in our daily lives. How much they sacrifice so their family can be happy. And how they balance jobs and housework so well. How we should think of the household chores being divided equally into men and women of the house. Household tasks should not be labeled as “for women only”. Stay-at-home moms to be treated with dignity. And then, as if the above was not enough, the trending hashtags of #sharetheload and #feminismrocks started coming to the surface, post which I just kind of lost it.
My responses against each of these statements above: Why do we need a separate day to discuss the importance of gender equality with our kids? Heck, why do we need to discuss it at all? Why can’t it be incorporated into our daily actions so it is apparent to them without us having to pontificate on it specifically? Kids don’t listen to us, they follow what we do. So, let’s just go ahead and do it and not just talk about it. They will understand.
On women’s day, honor the women doing it ‘more’ for the family
My second contention: Why is it only women sacrificing for the family, and walking a tight-rope to keep the family balance? Why aren’t more men doing it? I’m not saying none of the male fraternity does it. There are exceptions everywhere, of course. But, the proportion is still ridiculously small. What makes it worse is the attitude behind it. Girls somehow feel it is a failure on their part that they are not able to manage everything and their spouses have to jump in. Guys feel they are being very modern and are “helping” their wives do their jobs, silent parenthesis being the primary responsibility of the work is still with the woman. How is this helping women feel equal?
Lastly, if we’re still “thinking” about dividing the household chores among the family members, why are we even bothering to call ourselves progressive? How many moms today impart the skills of cooking and sewing to their sons? Why do we not consider this as mandatory life skills training, irrespective of the gender of the kid? An extension of this is the stay-at-home mom. This lady feels, since she is at home, it is her duty to be waiting hand and foot on the rest of the family members, since as per the technical definition from the International University of Male Bigotry, she is, you know, “not working”. And the other members of the household do absolutely nothing to dispel her illusion.
The pink colour of Women’s day
There’s another completely opposing behavior in this whole scenario. An extreme viewpoint, where the girl is blamed if she likes pink color. Why?? If she likes pink, she’ll get pink stuff. And, if she likes blue, she’ll get blue stuff. If she likes black and wants to be a punk, she’ll be one and it’ll be what she wants. Why can’t we just let it be her choice, and not impose our views on her? The girl (or the boy) is an individual and will have her/his own individual likes and dislikes. Isn’t respecting these choices a true manifestation of gender equality?
We still live in a patriarchal society. Let’s not have any delusions about it. You don’t get gender equality by having ladies’ reservations for jobs and train seats and celebrating Women’s day. Also, you don’t get gender equality by claiming you’re “allowing” your wife to do what she wants to do. Again, you don’t get gender equality by claiming half your office population is female, and then passing them over for important role increments. You don’t get to just show gender equality. Of course, you need to live it. Sorry if I’m bursting some bubble you were living in.
Living the women’s day on a daily basis
That’s the most important thing, right? Living the concept. Making it a part of your daily life till it no longer feels foreign to your mind. Opening up our brains to the notion that boys and girls need to be given the same opportunities and the same training, so they can take all the right decisions with the right ammunition. Letting it sink in that blue equals boy and pink equals girl is not always right, but it just might be. Understanding that it depends on the kid and what he/she likes. Imparting life skills to both kids with the same fervor. Letting them make their life choices, irrespective of their gender. Respecting them for their choices.
Not making recruitments in office based on gender. And, not passing over females for promotions because you feel she might be taking a maternity leave soon. Of course, not judging females for getting that promotion you wanted and blaming it on the gender diversity campaign of the company. And, not judging moms for putting their career a little ahead of their kids. Not judging moms for staying at home in spite of being qualified. And, not judging anybody for whatever choices made, period.
We should arrive at a place where we no longer need to celebrate Women’s Day. A place where gender equality is not something that we need to explain to anybody. I know I’m aiming too high, but what’s life without some unachievable targets. Until that day comes, let’s all stop this hypocritical, patronizing farce we call, ‘International Women’s Day’.