My friend in the next cubicle, U, in office tagged me to Feminism of all subjectsJ Ha! Thanks buddy for helping us grow to blogging together from the long enjoyable office corridor conversations we have whenever I am on the way to the restroom.
Anyways, I think I first heard the term FCB – Female Chauvinist Bitch when I was in 5th standard. My three-year elder cousin brother enlightened me. We were playing near the stairs in my home and he said I couldn’t climb two at a time. I snapped back that I am scared to do it but I will do it. As I ran on the stairs, ahead of him, he shouted FCB. I fell down exactly at that moment and shouted FCB back at him. And he said, no stupid, boys are MCPs and girls are FCBs. To me that explains the fight! Whatever we do, we will be labeled as either of the chauvinists.
I remember having huge fights with my Mom because I was expected to learn housework, help her in the kitchen while my brothers could play, watch TV. I rebelled by stranding myself to my room, having cold wars with everyone in the family, and just crying it out that my folks didn’t care for me. I was brought up to believe that teaching was the best profession for me since I could be a housewife and work at that same time only if I were a teacher. I rebelled and did my MBA, made my career the way I wanted to. I have been at war with my family for good 10 years because of my relentless, merciless following of my ambition to be independent. And I am proud of the fact that I am emotionally, financially independent of my parents. Does it make me a feminist? I don’t think so.
I think we all have a sense of personal freedom. In fact, I have met men who have looked at this from the point of view of personal growth and related to it completely. They said they rebelled against their families wanting them to choose a particular profession as they followed their ambition and grew independent enough to live in a different way than their parents did.
For me, feminism has always been about fighting and breaking the stereotypes rather than equal rights. Few years ago, I broke the stereotype of an obedient daughter, willing to learn housework and grow into someone who was a good daughter-in-law, a good housewife. When the world has started slotting me into single, independent career woman, busy climbing the career ladder, then I have started to develop and showcase my home-making skills. I do take a lot of pride in it as well! Not only am I learning to make different cuisines from scratch but also work hard everyday to design and maintain the aesthetics of my home.
Maybe I am just another rebel fighting the cause of personal freedom for allJ But that’s what works for me.
As far as equal rights are concerned, I think that’s largely an individual perspective.
My parents did pay for my education even when it wasn’t something that they wanted for me. I am grateful to them for that education. They did support me when I was going through hell in my career. They still support me completely. I have equal opportunities and equal choices as my brothers because I chose to have them – peacefully or with fights.
The guys I have known were vary of the fact that I was quite free-spirited. I think guys hate the term Feminist for the stereotype it presents. But what they tend to overlook by slotting me into the Feminist stereotype is that I love the very feminine side to me that I usually hide. I think there is a certain grace in walking with closed legs and standing with straight, narrowed down shoulders, head tilted a little, and the curve of the waist a little out of the straight silhouette, the way only a woman can do. I would prefer a skirt to a trouser any day. And I love to cook and serve it to people I love. I don’t care if it caters to a male chauvinist society expectations of an eye-candy and a cook in a woman. I enjoy being treated well with chocolates and candles. And if my guy prefers to cook for me someday, I wouldn’t stop him from doing it by saying, ‘Ye mardon ka kaam nahin hai.’
I prefer being a woman with my own choices and the freedom to change my choices. I would prefer to associate and fulfill expectations of neither the feminist nor the male chauvinist.
Even as I write this I know there are issues like dowry, eve-teasing, male dominance at homes, equal opportunities in employment, career choices for women, working late at night with male colleagues and being sneered for taking a leave for the family. These issues haunt men as well as women. Each one to their own! Handle it when it happens. Ask for help if you need to but why take any bullshit from anybody?
When I was being interviewed for my current job, I was asked about my marriage plans/love life/boyfriend etc. I did learn it later that it was against the Company Policy as well as the labor laws to ask this question from a man or a woman. By that time, though I felt irritated with being questioned on my personal life, I had answered it as authentically as I could. Next time, I decided, I am not going to take any bull shit. I gave my interviewer the answer he deserved once I joined and he asked the question again! The point is that for me, the stakes of losing my selection for this job had lowered when I answered back. Convenient, no? Also, I chose not to take the whole issue personally and maintained a good relationship with that guy otherwise! Does that make me a hypocrite? I don’t think so. I also have the freedom to express my anger in the right way, at that right time. And I think women have the capability to keep the relationships going despite destructive issues being involved. If I would make a feminist issue out of this, I would probably lose a good professional relationship. So, I give the shit back, make sure it’s not repeated but do not become unfriendly or disrespectful in any way.
Feminism and male chauvinism to me, mean a loss of the human and the woman that I am. I would rather be free and wrong than be politically correctJ