Let us not only empower women, but also prepare men to set their expectations right

 

It is great that the world is changing for women to keep up the balance of fair share of equality that she has been denied from for so long. The change that is obviously visible with the increased participation of women in all sectors, specially for the work that was earlier stereotyped as a ‘man’s job’. While this is a good improvement, there are some related serious problems as well – our men are not prepared for this sudden change .

For the last two generations now- especially in urban India and educated middle class families- we have raised our girls to be confident and have taught them to fight for their rights. But the problem seems to be growing somewhere else. We seem to have ignored an entire generation of boys who were never told anything about how their sisters, mothers, wives and daughters are changing. Click To Tweet Gender equality does not mean that men and women become the same; it means that the access to opportunities are the same and their freedom to live on their rules is neither dependent on, nor constrained by their sex.

Unfortunately the fact is that while we are encouraging our girls to endeavor new heights and limits, we are least bothered to tell our boys that they too need a vast change in themselves. The task categorizations that the society has made unconsciously is too much a burden to be carried and fought with. Going out on an expedition,  protecting the family, making decisions etc are tagged as tasks for the ‘man’ whereas the less glorified tasks like taking care of the home, ensuring everyone is fed well, being there for the children etc. are for the ‘woman’. As a result of this discrimination, men have internalized the idea that it isn’t their job to take care of the household chores. Moreover, a sense of degradation has been attached to these jobs done by women that has made men stay away from doing them.

You don’t see parents proudly saying that their son can cook and doesn’t need a mother/wife/sister to feed him. We don’t tell our sons that it is okay for them to be paid less than their wives or stay at home to take care of the kids while their spouses continue to work.  While men want to marry a working woman in theory, they are completely unprepared for the practical reality of a marriage where both partners are working. Perhaps the assumption is that the ‘lady’ would take care of everything’ adding more responsibilities on women.

What we need to prepare our boys is that if the wife is sharing the financial burden, they need to share the other tasks as well – doing the dishes or supervising the maid when the wife has a report to complete or being with the child at home if the care taker decides for an unplanned off. They also need to be prepared for giving up a promotion or moving to a new city for the spouse’s career.

It is because we don’t set these expectations right, the men in our life continue to believe that their wife will ‘obviously’ give up the job or promotional transfer in favor of the family whereas they will never have to take a step back from their own careers, unfortunately taking the financial burden completely on them, which isn’t fair anyway

A social networking site mentioned “Don’t tell women how to dress, tell men how to look at”. Click To Tweet The situation is the same. Let us raise the boys of this generation prepared to set up their expectation right; if not we will end up burdening the girls with more and more responsibilities.

 

This Pardada-Pardadi school teaches girls the ‘F’ word.

 

 

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