During a conversation with a friend of mine, an argument arose whether practices of olden days are still around in modern times and wouldn’t conservative thought processes automatically change over time. On reflection, I realized that quite often, we do assume that old practices die automatically, and today we are in 2020, and everyone is modern. This raises a moot question, is modern thinking linked to changing times. I feel a modern thought has nothing to do with the time it takes a lot of effort in each one of us.
I know of a Mrs. Iyer who, in her eighties, is living all alone for the last 50 years from when she lost her husband. Having gotten married early on, she was distraught when she lost her husband within a few years of marriage. With support from her siblings, she enrolled in a college, finished her education, and ended up doing a Ph.D. After a successful 3-4 decades of working in a university, she is now retired and stays independently. Even now, when you speak to her, her thoughts are so clear without any hint of cynicism or negativity. She doesn’t gossip about anyone, nor would be crib about anything. She still can talk about politics movies and other current affairs, and a conversation with her will leave you with a lot of positive energy. She continues to follow her religious traditions and practices to date. I consider this is an example of a perfect co-existence of traditionalism and modern thinking.
It is not modern when a man parties with his friends and yet expects his wife to be back home before 6 o clock in the evening or the one who celebrates diversity week at office and raises his hand at his wife at home. Unfortunately, some of these may be considered so normal that it gets confused with gender roles and traditionalism. Trust me, there cannot be a worthy tradition that doesn’t believe men and women as equals.
Modern thinking has absolutely nothing to do with time. While some of the societal practices could evolve over time, personal values and choice could even be modern in 1940, and it can be cringe-worthy even in 2020. I feel it is important to sow seeds for changing some of the fundamental thoughts.
GIVE WOMEN FREEDOM
Recently in a social gathering, someone was bragging proudly that he has given his wife complete freedom to chose her career. I think this is a fundamental problem and needs a change in the thought process. Freedom is not a ring that you can gift someone on a special day. That’s the core of being free! The moment men start thinking that they are giving freedom to women is the empirical evidence of the existence of archaic thought and inequality. My advice to those men who think they give freedom to their wife and daughter is to discuss with them as an equal and let your wife or daughter take her own decision. You can contribute, but who are you to give her freedom?
THEY BRING COLOR
If women bring color to men’s life, who brings the sound, light, etc.? Life is not a movie set, and a man is not a hero to have all these to be carried by different people to pamper him. Be it a relationship, family, or workplace, both men and women bring in an equal amount of sound, light, color, and, most importantly, intellect and wisdom! I feel it is important to stop treating women as a kaleidoscope.
We are conditioned from childhood about various gender stereotypes. It is unfortunate that even in this modern-day and age, quite a few of these continue to exist. This also stems from the way we raise our children – don’t many of us consider a boy cannot cry and is weak to do so? So when the boy becomes a man, calls a crying woman a drama queen, we shouldn’t be surprised. He thinks crying is shameful, doesn’t know any other way to show emotions, and ends up being confused. We should start encouraging both our girls and boys to show their feelings, whether it is anger, despair, or happiness. This will help them to build a sense of empathy early in their life. So the next time when you see a man crying in a Karan Johar movie, don’t laugh at him and try to hand over a napkin instead!
RAISE A PARTNER
We must raise both girls and boys to be equal partners, and it starts at home at a young age. This is about sharing domestic work by the adults at home, equally across gender. Looking at equal distribution of such boring chores, children learn gender roles and the important fact that gender roles actually don’t exist. When your son finishes dinner tonight, ask him to wash his plate himself!
SHE GOT A PROMOTION, YOU KNOW HOW
It is quite unfortunate that when a man gets a promotion or a special project, he is considered smart and deserving. When the same happens to a woman, she has to fight suspicions and doubts. You may argue that this is an older way of thinking and wouldn’t be happening in modern times, well, you’d surprised to hear the grapevines when a woman gets promoted. Intrinsically we need to identify and nurture talent and ambition and provide tangible support, whether within the family or at the workplace. Next time when someone gets promoted in your team, throw a party first!
NOT A PROPERTY
In the veil of care and concern, we men and at times, few women end up questioning intentions in simple situations. Imagine a woman being dropped by a male colleague who happens to live around the same locality and the gossip that it elicits within the office. Or about a woman who went to a party with friends where there were other males, perhaps common friends. Imagine the questions that she may have to face when a photo of this party is seen on social media. Only properties have a risk of encroachment; I think we should stop treating our women like one! (Great, if you noticed the issue in the last sentence, you’ve got my point of this article!)
On days like international women’s day, we share articles about women leaders who have changed the world; millions do that. Instead, let’s take a moment and appreciate the women around us who have made an enormous difference to their own lives and to people around them. We each have among us a woman who has fought various odds and yet ends every day smiling! Send her a message today appreciating her, it will make a lot of difference than sharing a meme that has been sent around a million times already!
Wonder woman is not a fictional character; she is there in each household; it just takes open eyes and some modern thinking to identify and appreciate them. That’s all!
Featured image, courtesy by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay