Is feminism becoming an excuse for selfishness?
Why are we so quick to play the blame game? Aren't we women now behaving in the same selfish way that we berate men for?
A key decision that most career woman will face at some time in their life will be the prioritizing between work and baby. By no means is this a binary choice, but a woman still is the one who has to take this hard decision. I had opted for a three-day work week when my son was born. I wanted to spend more time at home with my baby, so career took a bit of a back seat. During that time, I was passed over for promotion. Twice.
My self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ friends were enraged. My company and boss were termed as ‘regressive’, ‘partial’ and even ‘unjust’. In my view what happened was not discrimination. It was fair. Fair on the man who got the promotion as he was working his ass off, while I organized play dates. I made a choice which came at a price that I am to some extent still paying for.
Why are we so quick to play the blame game? Aren’t we women now behaving in the same selfish way that we berate men for?
- If a woman decides to quit her job to look after children, it's considered normal, noble even. Catch a man do that, and eyebrows are raised and quick assumptions are reached "He probably lost his job. Poor guy has no choice. Why else would he swap diapers for dollars?"
- A woman coming home at midnight after an office party is exercising her choice. A man doing so is being a prick for ignoring his family.
- After a long stressful day at work when a woman has to wash the dishes post-dinner, we pity her. But then what about the housewife's or stay at home mums who insist that their husbands have to participate, equally if I may add, to all the household and children chores, despite being the breadwinners who put in 12-hour days in office?
- When a man painstakingly cooks dinner for his wife (even if it's Maggi 2-minute noodles) it's considered romantic. But when a woman does the same, she is judged for being a doormat.
- Ladies kitty parties are an acceptable lifestyle. And a man needs to cajole his wife and buy her presents to get a boy’s night out pass.
- Where is the equality in any of this? Feminism is not about putting men down. Feminism is equality. So same rules apply. What's wrong for the gander is wrong for the goose too. If we women want the privilege of having a choice to do as we please, we have to bear the responsibility of those choices.
Ask yourself "What do I want?". And then make a plan to make it happen. Accept the good and the bad of the choice. And remember your choices affect the ones around you. Making choices unequivocally is not asserting your feminism. It's purely being selfish. So, if you want to quit your job to pursue your passion, talk to your husband, plan your finances and do it! And if you want to put your child in daycare to focus on your career, don't play martyr-mum. And if you are lucky to be footloose and fancy-free and capable of paying your own bills, then go ahead and do whatever the hell you wish. Because when you decide to share your life with someone, they become a part of your choices. The trick is finding someone who will stand by your choices. As you will stand by his (or hers).
Seema Punwani is the author of ‘Cross Connection’, a novel about finding love the second time over. The narrative is from the female and male point of view, giving two different perspectives to the same story. Seema is a marketing consultant and is also currently pursuing her Masters at LASALLE College of the Arts. She was born in Spain, grew up in Mumbai and now lives in Singapore.
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