Let us discuss this; please have a chair? Coffee? We are both stern advocates of human rights here. It goes unsaid that we shall be as impartial as our subjective minds may allow. ( Try at least?)
So, what is gender equality? The purpose of gender equality is to not to give preference to a particular gender in a given situation while feminism aims at empowering women and bringing them at par with men in a situation in which they have not been fairly dealt with. Men and women should be given an equal salary; equal opportunities for work and education. In fact, women should not be barred from whatever men have been allowed to do. Feminists wish to abolish patriarchy and stop somewhere before it becomes a matriarchy. Sounds fair and you agree.
In her book, ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Virginia Woolf demands that women should be given a space in which they are undisturbed and are unburdened from the household chores. Such a woman, would be able to work and fulfil her ambitions in life for herself. I understand the importance of this but I want to pose a question here. Can a man with a family ever demand such a space for himself? Can he talk about shirking away from the responsibility of providing for his children, let us say, just to take a break?
But you say that men do not do household chores and women have to sacrifice their lives to do so and I have a counter argument to that: men are always expected to earn for the family and it goes without saying that this is his responsibility. Talking on humanitarian terms, can they not demand a life in which they are fulfilling their dreams? I am sure you would not say that every man’s dream in life is to earn and provide for his family.
Well then here, we are not talking about gender equality. Gender equality would be a situation in which men can cry in public as well and can choose whether to be the sole bread earner of the family or not. If women should do what men can do then men should be also allowed to do all that a woman can do but what I see is a silence and a sole acceptance from our male counterparts about what they can do. There is a word called ‘gallant’ for men who are courteous to women but what is the word for a courteous woman? It doesn’t exist and would have, had feminism implied gender equality.
A man should assist in the household chores but when a woman works, she does that to fulfil her ambitions. Rarely is the purpose to be the primary earner. I am afraid, the problem here does not seem to be that of equality but of a very negative view of household chores and nurturing and growing of children. A man should participate in it: this is what a feminist would say and I agree but there are so many areas in which men are treated unfairly and there is a silence there.
It seems as if women want empowerment; women want privileges and do what men are doing but a society in which gender equality prevails would want the acceptance of men no matter what they do and not be on the risk of being tagged ‘womanish’ if they do something that only women do.
At the end of the day, we want gender equality. It is more realistic and will have a more stable influence on the society. Feminists look up to men but a society in which both the genders have the choice of taking care of their parents would be an equal society: liberating, fair and considerate. Is such a world possible? How far are we from such a world? You may drink your coffee now.