A man was once famously asked.
‘ Who really wears the trousers in your house?’
To which he replied ‘ I do. I wear the trousers and I wash and iron them too.’
All our lives not only have been told that what’s important is to be the dominant partner in a relationship but we’ve also been taught to look down upon the ‘weaker’ partner.
Non valuable work that does not pay is the woman’s job, raising children, making food, keeping home. The more pay, wealth and riches are the mans domain, they have to come through him.
Although we are centuries and many ideas away from our nomadic ancestors living in the jungles, our conditioning seems to have remained the same. The jungles have given way to boardrooms, the caves to modern homes, but our thinking sadly hasn’t moved a day.
So who has kept patriarchy alive? Who has ensured that men remain the custodians of all that is strong and powerful in this world?
Let’s talk about gender bias for a minute, the word bias implies that not only do we look down/ stereotype a (in this case) gender but we also devalue their contribution. Today, we are in a knowledge economy, when the only strengths you need are intellectual and emotional and yet we are being judged, biased and ostracized on the basis of our gender.
How did that come about? Why with all the changes in the world have our takes on gender not undergone a shift. It may seem like it all boils down to patriarchy according to Miki Kashtan in her article in Psychology Today. Patriarchy was established as a means to control women once paternity became important (again an age old practice established in a more open and free society when men and women had equal freedom)
I come from a family were women were a majority, it was 4:1 so the scales were in our favour and so it happened that we neatly passed the baton from 1 to the other without feeling the oppression. Then I got married, and had 2 sons, now imagine my total confusion as to how total strangers then looked at me with awe. Women stopped me on the road to ask ‘ both boys is it?’ Even family members remarked ‘Samarthiyam’ (smart) as though I had any say in the matter. That’s when patriarchy reared its not so pretty head in my life.
Here I was, a woman who had made something of herself, whose opinions were strong and loud, who had proven time and again that she could do what most people could (not just men) and do it well. And yet beyond all this I was now going to be judged as the mother of two sons.
My 5 year old has no idea of gender roles or biases, he is growing up in a world where everyone is equal. Both his parents are equal partners, all work is good work. He thinks its something cool to wash dishes, do the laundry, clean the house and to cook, every time I wear lipstick he says I look like the models on billboards.
That’s his world – without bias, without prejudice where everyone is doing an important job irrespective of whether there is money involved or not.
‘Amma, let me put away the vegetables, I want to help you so you don’t get tired.’ My youngest will clean even the smallest drop of water he spills, by himself. In my opinion patriarchy has been harder on men in recent times than on women. They do not have the skills of self sufficiency and esteem required to accept the coming feminist revolution. They do not understand the foundations of equality and instead see this as the tipping of the balance – against them.
Feminism requires women to choose, want and need to do anything they want to. It requires that women and other genders be able to fail, get up and fail again so they can succeed on their own terms. Beyond that it impels that men rise up to balance the scales that they see as tipping against them by stepping in where women are making way – on the home front.
Today, all genders have the freedom to love, to work, to vote, to earn, to inherit, to own, to learn, to property, to life. Patriarchy is dead, now it’s up to us to bury it. It’s up to us to balance the scales.
Even when economies crumble, borders fall, governments implode, the family which thus far women have nurtured and grown will survive and thrive. As women have been the fire behind the success of men – quietly playing their part, men should also have the support and respect they deserve if they choose to be the fire behind the success of women including role models who do so.
As they grow, my sons will feel the pressure of patriarchy, they will see that they have to be the dominant partner in a relationship, that society demands that they bring home the higher pay. However, they will see that at home the scale is inclusive, even if pay and charge is taken away, you can still add home, family and balance will be restored. They will learn that cooking your family meals is as important as presenting in the board room. They will learn that one does not take away from the other, that in fact it creates balance.
As parents our roles, the husband and I is to raise sons that don’t adhere to the rules of patriarchy, because as we build a world for #agenerationwithoutgenderbias, patriarchy should be buried.
‘I do’ replied Sir Denis Thatcher ‘ I wear the trousers and I wash and iron them too’ Margaret Thatcher’s husband who the press at the time painted as the man who was in charge of her, you know, because women cannot be entirely incharge of their lives and their jobs as well as a country.
Let’s raise our daughters to run the world, in addition to their homes and our sons to run their homes in addition to the world.