Sunday, March 29, 2015

The fluidity of gender roles

In the aftermath of the immense success of "India's daughter" and the opinions it generated, I am amused that people twist their views on gender to suit their convenience.

Most of our narrative has been binary. It is staggeringly

  • This or That
  • Either I am right or funnily, you are wrong
  • You are with me or against me
  • You are a feminist or a male chauvinist
  • You have a fundamentalist/radical view of women's roles or you think, everything is cool
What we have to urgently realize are a few things and be conscious about the realization -

  • Gender roles have become fluid like never before. Gone are the days when women sought a partner for security and men so that someone can take care of their kids
  • Political correctness has its limitations. By absolving one gender of any wrong and laying all fault at the door of the other, we are only implying that 50% of the population is guilty
  • Every debate has nuances. Every story is not told in shades of black and white
Now, coming to the crux of this post, consider the following -

  • A man has as much right to take a break from work when he wants it or feels like it and try out something new/creative/entrepreneurial
  • A man can be perfectly okay with having a partner who earns higher than him and who has better qualifications
  • A man can still be a man if he doesn't know how to ride a two wheeler or a four wheeler
  • A man can also choose to work or not work fulltime. He doesn't have to be the provider or the head of the family always
  • A boy has as much right to know how much his partner can earn before marriage as the girl
  • A boy can choose to have long hair, choose to wear pink, choose to ride a yellow scooter and choose to wear red shoes
  • Having a flat and earning money in dollars doesn't have anything to do with the male gender alone
  • A man can choose not to open the door for a lady at a restaurant or to pull a chair for her at a table and still be a gentleman
  • A man can be afraid of the dark and scared of the heights
  • Finally, a man who likes Sunny Leone need not be a man who is addicted to pornography or objectification of women
Gender is a construct that helps us understand biological, sociological and neurological differences between sexes. It is not a weapon to beat down one gender and sound politically correct. If we choose to deploy it so, unfortunately, we end up exhibiting a lack of proper discernment, a propensity to draw convenient/easy/cognitively less stressful conclusions and a deep seated inclination to stereotype.

Our society is undergoing transition and it is a transition, undoubtedly for the better. Let us try to treat the inevitable friction during this transition with a healthy degree of empathy.