Pregnancy and Feminism - How Heavy or How Lite?

A few days back, I shared this link on FB. It is an extract from a much larger piece on Feminism (which has now been converted into a book) and it talks about why it is necessary to reject the idea of feminism lite.

Being the wife of a natural feminist (yes, men can be feminists too !) I face this a lot. Many people, well-wishers and otherwise, often tell me that I am lucky to have him as a hubby. Let's park the lucky or otherwise bit for a moment, and look at what makes them say this. Lucky you - he is an involved parent. Lucky you - he lets you follow your dreams. Lucky you - he makes coffee for you. Lucky you - well, you get the drift....This does not need any explanation - a healthy union of 2 individuals need not be mired in gender stereotypes at all.

The flip side of this is that it is far tougher for a guy to be a feminist in a misogynist society such as the one I live in. He is constantly bombarded with friendly and not so friendly jabs about how his friends have it far easier - their wives essentially playing the role of the 'ideal wife'. Which makes him often wonder whether that is what a marriage actually should be...and he sometimes feels superior just because he does what he is supposed to do.

One of the statements in the above piece was that being a feminist is like being pregnant - you either are or you are not. And then there was a discussion on is this comparison right - after all pregnancy is a journey and then again, you are not always pregnant.

Well, my thoughts around this are still quite fuzzy. Pregnancy is a deeply personal journey and every woman goes through it and interprets it differently. So is feminism. But you cannot cloak misogynistic behaviour under the grab of benevolent feminism. I have seen this a lot. Let me explain with a story.

A pastor once addressed a village crowd (fairly poor) and asked, " If you have 2 houses, will you give one to the poor and needy?" Everyone vigorously nodded and said, "Of course, yes." . He went on to ask "If you have two tractors, will you give one to the poor and needy?". Again everyone replied positively. Then he went on to ask, "If you have 2 goats, .." . At this point the village headman immediately whispered in the pastor's ears "Sir, please stop, most of us actually have 2 goats".

It's the same with feminism. As long as you don't have to make the tough choices that accompany doing the right thing, you can vigorously preach it. But, practicing it in real life is a very tough journey...There was a speech by Carter around this topic - I can't find the link, but the essential point was everyone opposes racism until it makes it inconvenient for them personally. Most people who speak about women and equality during women's day or mother's day, immediately go back to gender stereotypes after clicking the 'Post' icon. The worst part is when they even mold future generations in the same manner. I see many moms and dads do this - often in the name of 'protecting' their loved ones.

Which brings me to the concept of fish love. We need to really redefine love and know that love sometimes demands tough choices. I have seen many women being trapped in unhappy marriages 'cos they feel that's the right thing to do. Why do we often forget that both men and women have limited time in this beautiful world ? Let us make informed choices.

On this note, let me also add that I don't believe a working woman is more empowered than a stay at home mom. I have seen working women hand over their entire salary to the men (dad or hubby) and being economically controlled by them. I have also seen stay at home moms find ways to get economic independence. But, if you are staying at home 'cos of any of the following reasons, then I clearly have a problem:
1. Women are natural care givers. (No, they are not - women have to learn how to change a nappy without pricking a baby, with as much effort as a man and yes, body discharges of a bed ridden person is as gross (or not gross) to a woman as to a man - but, we all do what we have to do!)
2. He earns more than me, so it's best if I stay home. (that is 'cos he has more years of experience, when you reach his age, you probably would earn the same.)

Staying at home shouldn't be a natural outcome of being a woman. It has to be an informed choice. And women who stay at home are definitely risking a lot - 'cos love does change shape and form !

While feminism lite is definitely not fully acceptable, it is probably the first step in the journey. Deeply misogynistic societies don't have much choice. Not everyone is a revolutionary - and that's perfectly ok. It is better to start the journey than remain where you are. Belief systems need to be reexamined ever so often, and if baby steps are all that you can take, then do that ! A giant leap is of course more  preferred. But, then again, it takes 9 months to create a baby - you can't fast forward that. But, don't wait for a personal tragedy (or the birth of a daughter) to believe in feminism. Or for that matter any ism.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Weekend Blues