By Amee Misra
The biggest disservice we do to women is telling them that they are equal to men. We fail to prepare them for their reality and, by doing so, we set them up for a lifetime of struggle, disappointment and misery.
Men and women are not equal — they are different. Like apples and oranges. We’re all fruits, yes, and only one of us will make a decent apple pie.
This whole bringing-up-your-daughters-the-way-you’d-bring-up-your-sons business is nonsense. When did we decide that there is an ideal human being prototype and it’s male? Why is no one bringing up their sons like they’d bring up their daughters?
Many women of my generation were “brought up like sons”. We went to the best schools and colleges our parents could afford. Ambition was not just encouraged but insisted upon. We were asked to dream and we dreamt big. We were told we could do anything a man can and for the longest time we believed that. We got good grades, we made it to big jobs and did well. We married men we chose and they “allowed” us wings our mothers couldn’t have dreamt of in their marriages.
And then we had babies.
Having a child is the single-more gender-defining thing a woman can do — and cute as they may be, babies take every notion you may have had of man-woman equality and smack you in the face with it till it’s all but beaten out of you and you’re the exact same bag of motherhood hormones as countless women before you have been. Except now it’s a lot worse.
Children have no idea that they are now being born in the 21st century and should treat their mothers differently. Having a child continues to be the same amount of work: childbirth continues to be a bitch and a mother’s biological impulses drawing her to her child remain as strong as nature intended them to be. But our expectations from women are very different now. They are supposed to be men.
They are expected to be men, but they can’t stop being women. As a result, the most competent, educated, financially independent Indian woman today is terribly ill-equipped to handle her reality.
A lot of jokes about women centre on them being moody, irrational and not knowing what they want. This isn’t actually funny — we honestly don’t know what we want.
Nature intended us to want near-constant physical proximity to our children and gave us a fierce instinct to protect and nurture. Capitalism and its definitions of success need us to regularly show up at work and lean bloody in. Our parents told us we could be their “sons” but will be the first to raise an alarm if we neglect our homes and children and stopped being “daughters”. We are always, always torn.
We can fight it all we want, but we are not winning an argument against biology.
Where is the recognition of the importance of the nurturing role a mother plays in a home? Why do we treat mothers as replaceable in a child’s life by a supportive father or an efficient childcare system? This is not a “gendered” argument as some of my feminist friends might say — the way my son’s cries affect me is not the same as they would affect his father. And I am willing to go to war with you on this.
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