How often have we heard a feminist say, “I am an independent woman, I can take care of my things.” How about a man saying, “I am an independent man, I can cook my own meal”?
The whole idea of a man being dependent did not strike a chord with me, till one day I heard my father make the same above mentioned statement!
This article is for all the women and men struggling for gender equality. We fail to address the concerns that men face, overpowered with narratives on gaps that women would have to fill to climb the ladder.
We would look into various domains of life, where men struggle to rise above the notch, whilst most of the women welcome the same.
Most of the kids of our generation are raised to believe that a man and only a man should be the prime breadwinner of the family. Therefore the pressure to do well in a career that would generate enough money is borne only by them.
According to a survey, 66% of women in matrimonial sites were seeking partners earning more than them, whereas 94% of the male were looking for partners earning less than them.
How could you empower women, when the onus of security is only on men?
Men are taught to be self-sufficient financially, but are they given home science lessons as women are?
My friend from college once commented, how can I contribute in domestic affairs? My wife would have to take care of these things; I have never been taught how to cook!
How do we empower women without empowering men to take care of their daily chores?
Men are not given the same luxury of expressing themselves as they want to, as women are.
Right from the childhood, they are asked not to cry like a girl. Crying or expressing emotions are shamed. These are taught through various channels like parents, media and also the toys they play with.
And then we would see a wife complaining of an inexpressive husband.
On the other hand, they learn to emulate aggressive emotion, revolving around the concept of masculinity. Mostly observed and absorbed through media and same-sex parent modeling.
And then we see road rage.
Research suggests that men who are single fathers do adopt “mothering behaviors”, which involves expressing affection, care, and nurture. Thus this emotion-culture contributes to gender inequality that perpetuates their struggle within their emotional lives.
Have you ever noticed a man talking about their problems emotionally? How often we see them discussing their break up with their male friends? They would always bank upon their female friends to vent or discuss their emotional problems if need be. Surveys over the past several decades have shown that men of all ages and ethnicities are less likely than women to seek help for all sorts of problems–including depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events–even though they encounter those problems at the same or greater rates as women. Women generally have a stronger network of an emotional support system than men. Repression of emotions in men, trigger physiological concerns, such as high blood pressure. One can better overcome their problems if discussed and dealt with emotionally. Thus, gender stereotyping of emotion expression, make men deal with their anxiety and worry by internalizing it rather externalizing it.
Shaming for dominating/assertive wife
How many of us find humor in a situation where a woman seeks permission from her man? Now think of role reversal. Have a list of jokes already?
How can one empower woman if she is not given liberty to use hilarity on a dominating man?
All the above-mentioned leeway that a woman is given through the virtue of culture and social norms, makes a man a less independent and less empowered than his counterpart.
The more you give women the status of super goddesses with an eternal endurance of pain and tolerance, and label men as an epitome of strength and valor, the less you empower both the gender to be a human with their own fragilities.
We would know we have achieved gender equality when we would stop:
finding men doing house chores funny,
presuming women dominate men when the latter contributes in domestic affairs.
raising our children in gender stereotypical ways, we should not expect glasses of men and women poured equal to the brim.
I would like to end this article with the following survey:
Daughters who observe their fathers doing household work, become more career oriented than other women (Alyssa and others, 2014).
Hence, dear women, let your son/husband/brother shoulder the household responsibility with you. Because until you empower them, you cannot empower yourself.
C. Alyssa; S. Toni; Katharina; B. Andrew; (2014). The Second Shift Reflected in the Second Generation: Do Parents’ Gender Roles at Home Predict Children’s Aspirations? Psychological Science.
L. Winerman.(2005) Helping Man to Help Themselves. American Psychological Association.