Gender bending

I ain’t a bra burner by a long shot..I am not even borderline feminist.  I am even ok with gender roles in my life.  But where I bristle is when an apparently gender-equality-lauding-effort is patronising to the extreme.  Two cases come to mind:

  1. An article that announces a documentary about three women scientists who were in the Mars mission program of India talks about the number of children these scientists had – one of them had a daughter in the 12th when Mangalyaan was being planned, and another has a seven-year old.  Would these statistics be mentioned if these scientists had been men?   Also, “Minal Rohit calls Seetha Somasundaram a “very strict lady”, while discussing the nature of her work and how demanding a boss Seetha could be!”. Would this be said of a male boss ever?  Yes, I know it was said by another woman.  I don’t even know what to say.
  2. Dangal:  This is a movie that has recently been oohed-and-aahed about by my friends; it is apparently a true story of a guy from a backward state of the country, training his daughters to become boxers, something he couldn’t achieve in his life.  While people talk about the empowerment of girls in this movie, my first thought was this – were the girls given a choice?  Was the man realising dreams for himself through his daughters?  If so, what became of the daughters’ dreams?  Did they have any?

I can hear you say “women are getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, harassed  in your country and you are nitpicking about trivialities like this?”.

I can’t even talk about the women getting raped, murdered, acid-attacked, and harassed in my country without my entire system shutting down in abject panic and humiliation. Trivialities, I can kick a fuss about – after all, being a word-warrier is so easy, isn’t it?

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9 thoughts on “Gender bending

  1. Sudalai

    My children too asked the same question before watching the movie LG, but there is a conversation between the girls and their friend who is about to get married just in her teens , where she says that your father is atleast trying to make something out of you whereas my father is marrying me off this early.So true .In many villages this is the norm even today.Saw it.A feel good movie of sorts.Agree fully to the tolerance of speech.

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    1. gobblefunkist Post author

      I have not watched the movie, perhaps I would think differently if I did. My anger stems from my personal experience – I wanted to do literature when I was younger, but my father made me do chemistry because he could not achieve what he wanted to in Chemistry (a Ph.D etc.). It bothers me that parents choose to live vicariously through their children. The fact that the children do well later is another thing altogether. I am a successful science writer thanks to the chemistry I learnt in college, but I still regret not being in literature. In fact, I chose to be a science writer only because of my love for the language, and not love for science per se. Science is incidental.
      Getting a teenager married is horrible, I know. But inducing a teenager to follow the parent’s dream is no less oppressive, in my opinion. Again, I don’t know the story first hand, nor have I seen the movie, so I can’t tell.

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      1. Sudalai

        Yes, what you say is true LG.Every child born is an independent being and imposing our ideas into them is always wrong.I said in the context of the story,but it is a pity to think better of somethi

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      2. Sudalai

        It is a pity to think something better than nothing, but the sorry state of our society makes us think so.As we learnt the lesson in a hard way we people will not interfere in the aspirations of our children.

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  2. Hangaku Gozen

    Well…I haven’t seen this movie, but speaking as one who has taken boxing lessons, it can be very empowering to learn how to fight. One thing that has surprised me is the number of people who have no idea how to defend themselves in a situation where they are being physically attacked by another person. I asked a friend who keeps telling me she is a pacifist if she would know what to do when someone punched her or tried to injure her, and she said, “Submit, of course. Non violent confrontation is very powerful.” But I know another friend, a gay man, who was beaten up by a bunch of thugs one evening while walking home alone, and I doubt if he would say submitting to his attackers is empowering. He suffered a concussion and a broken nose. I told him to take a martial arts class, if only to return his sense of power back to him. Perhaps I’m assuming that this man’s daughters enjoy fighting, but I don’t think you can become good at something if you don’t like it. I was hounded to practice math as a child, but I did not become a better math student because of it. I have the basics down, but I became math-phobic for many years afterwards. It wasn’t until I began practicing Common Core math for my job that I realized that math could be enjoyable, and then I actually became good at the subject.

    I’ll bet that female astronauts would be criticized if they weren’t married and had children, There is no winning for women when it comes to the dynamics of marriage, children, and work. “Is she a mother, and if so, what business does she has flying around in space?” No man is ever expected to juggle the experiences of parenthood and how they affect their careers.

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    1. gobblefunkist Post author

      I have no problems with the premise of the movie- of young girls being trained in martial arts and making it big in the world. More power to women, I say. My only nagging doubt is that the father only did that because he failed at it and wanted to live his life through them. Like I said in my reply to the earlier comment, I have been through that, and although I am very successful in the field my father chose for me, the discontent lives on, 20 years later, that I have not lived MY life and am living my father’s life.

      The women reported were not astronauts, they were scientists. Imagine if they were astronauts ! When people hear me say that I work from home, the most common response is “oh good, you can take care of the family that way too”. I am sure no man would ever hear that comment.

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  3. Carol

    I doubt if those differences in the views of men and women will go away in our lifetimes – there are differences in sexes, differences in strengths and tolerance, but I would wish that we could be treated fairly and equally, with each of us having the opportunity to become who we wish to become, without prejudice. As either a woman or a man, I would like to be able to choose my role in life, without question or criticism.

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  4. ss

    I think most of us raise our sons and daughters quite gender neutral today – which is the cause and effect of the gender roles changing. Will we evolve to be completely gender neutral – I don’t know. Besides the historical prejudices and biases, I think there is a genetic predisposition that will make each gender naturally gravitate more towards certain roles. But we may at some point in time come to accept both genders choosing any role.

    Just as a highly accomplished career woman is often questioned about her marriage and children…a super caring stay at home dad will be questioned about his earning potential and career. There is bias whenever someone is on a less traveled path.

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    1. gobblefunkist Post author

      “a super caring stay at home dad will be questioned about his earning potential and career. ”
      That’s true too. I know a work-from-home-dad and he faces these prejudices on a daily basis.

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