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Are Women Their Worst Enemies?

April 14, 2011

More and more this question haunts me as I hear stories about women doing something that so goes against everything our ancestors have fought for. Sure, there are some stupid people in both sexes… but women have been fighting this battle for a long time – the battle for basic rights.

I hear it being said that a woman who knows how to control a man rules the world. Perhaps that is true. But the point is that a woman should be able to live her life by her choice, without resorting to wiles.

I read this article on The Atlantic, which reads that Egypt has reverted back or gone worse into a direction that is anti-women. Ironically, the revolts were started by a woman but now it seems the more extremist Islamic groups are getting into power, thereby endangering the future of women. The article then went on to talk about the beginning of ‘feminism’ in Egypt and how groups opposed each other merely for political purposes.

‘Feminism’ – an ugly word. Gives the image of woman commandos shooting down men who stand in their way. What we really ask for is equal rights to choose. Or not to choose.

But for every woman who believes in equal rights, there is one that believes that we are overstepping our bounds. Education and class really has nothing to do with it. People I have worked with, who grew up in similar places like me believe that a woman is secondary in a family. That education might not be as important to a girl as it is to a guy. They would rather that a girl would study something softer, or well, sometimes a doctor because it increases their market value.

An old friend of mine who is doing research in nanotechnology was shocked by his classmates’ confession that they were studying further – such a hard subject too – because it would enhance their ‘marketability’. True to form, all of his female classmates were married within a year of graduation.

May be I am being a little harsh on women. But isn’t it women who call other women ‘slut’ first? Isn’t it a woman who casts the first stone when another does something that does not suit the society’s norm? And am I doing the same by writing this?

Perhaps it is frustration at the slow progress of things… that women are still perceived a particular way and there are men and women who do nothing to change it. A friend once told me that he would want his wife to be ‘just enough modern but she should be the one to handle the household too’. I asked him what he meant… he said she should be comfortable enough to come out with him and have a drink but she should also be the one to cook, hang out with his mother, have his children and not particularly have her own ‘career’. She could work but not in something that would require a lot of her attention.

I stared at him wondering how this person could be my friend and yet have such archaic views.

“So basically you want to marry someone who would be like a housekeeper and company for your mother but you can flaunt to your friends when you need to?”

Needless to say, there was considerable offense and no answer to that question.

But over the years I have come to realise that this is a view shared by many people of  my generation (sadly). The definition of ‘modern’ stretches to encompass a drink and the ability to wear jeans and speak english but not towards having an identity. Or a ‘career’ which is different from merely ‘working’. A woman’s role is still expected to be the wife, the daughter-in-law and the mother and there is no space for another identity between these three things.

I hear stories of women who have managed to squeeze in a couple of other things successfully and without compromising on the others, and I wonder constantly what their secret is.

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