I told a few of my guy friends that I was quitting my job, without having another. And the first response I got (from most of them) was, Sure, girls can always do that, just stay home, no one questions them. Not that I was surprised at the response, but I was at how it was the exact same thing most of them said. So that is how everyone looks at it, okay. Like most women in India especially, I have experienced biases, but not just from men, but from women almost as much. We live in a society that decides what the acceptable rules of living for a women are, based on what age she is at. Anyone who does not abide by the rules is a abnormal. Then ofcourse there are defined uncontested explanations as to why a woman does what she does, like quitting a job & staying at home because she has a husband who earns. It never fails to baffle me how less often these are questioned & how easily they are accepted like the only truth. Well however, this is not only they mind works for men, but also for women. A colleague of mine, in her 30s and not married (a total crime), told me the other day how her female colleagues sympathized with her on all possible occasions for not being married (verbally and through gestures) & did not hesitate in asking her if something was wrong or what the problem was in finding a match ! Poor thing I thought, to have to live with that kind of intrusion all the time. Why don't you just tell them it is none of their business, I asked her, annoyed. And she said, you know I spend 9 hours with them each day & cannot have them think I am rude or arrogant. In other words, I need to be acceptable by seeming miserable for not being married.
As a society, we still have a long way to go, if we want to become a progressive one that is. But many a times I cant help thinking even a start is yet to happen. We probably have reached a stage where being not progressive is so popular so widely accepted, that it is the new progressive. Sure we talk about equality & gender diversity & things, but our fundamentals are yet to change. We have accepted the equality notion in pockets, wherever it is convenient. We agree that Women are equally good Leaders, but we cannot come to terms with the fact that men can choose to be house husbands, we are fine with men being fancy chefs, but not with men cooking for their family (especially when their wives are around). I am yet to come across women who while teaching their daughters to cook, also teach their sons to cook.
There's an endless supply of jokes around stereotyped images of women that always find their way in any conversation & do not fail to generate bursts of laughter. In most situations I find only myself annoyed with it & end up being asked to take it on a lighter note, which I dont. How convenient ! Will we ever be a progressive society if we do not feel the need ? And by we, I especially mean women, women because as women we have chosen to accept things be okay with the way they are. We do not need external validation for being who we are or for not falling in line with the set rules. Being myself is a fundamental right not a luxury. We are not here to spend a lifetime pleasing others. We are here to live a life, the kind that suits us, just like everyone else.
We assume that by placing women on the board, by analsying gender diversity, by increasing maternity leaves, we are doing our share of heading towards being a progressive nation & community. But truly are we ? And even if it is a step, will we ever achieve this completely when on the other hand women remain the main subject of judgement ridicule? We need to learn to mean it when we say she is an independent women & that's great. Being progressive is a transformation in thoughts, in conditioning, in behaviour, in our way of living, that we need to bring about. And we cannot pick & choose where we want it. We have to let it come everywhere consciously & otherwise.