Women, at least some, today live with more freedom and independence. On International Women's Day, here's a toast to the men who have made it possible, writes Bindu Tobby
Right, so we've burnt bras, flashed the colours of our under-garments, ranted about how pink stinks and gone on slut walks. And for all the rabble rousing, hem-lines that reduced and necklines that plunged, there was another quiet journey that our ilk steadfastly embarked on. Of course we got a day in the year dedicated to us. But more importantly, our men-folk have slowly been convinced that we are an indomitable force and that it is probably in their own best interest to accept and support us.
And so, when we look around us amid all the not-so-good stories of female infanticide and the dowry deaths, we also hear some heart-warming ones of a new breed of educated, independent women folk who have stopped buckling under the thankless yoke of society-imposed selflessness. And the men – the husbands, fathers and brothers are chipping in without grumbling.
Says Anita Padmanaban, a working mother of two, “I make a no-regrets, week-long trip every year with either some of my girlfriends or women's travellers' groups. I know my husband pulls his hair out during the week trying to manage kids, the maids and his work day. While he used to initially grudgingly agree, he has now reached a point where he agrees that it is fair that I, like him, get a week off to recompose, re-energize and reconnect with my own inner self. He also agrees that it's only in my absence that he realizes the kind of stuff that actually passes through my hands, heart and head each day! That way he values my presence once I return more than ever!”
When Pramod Mathur decided to take a sabbatical and look after his one-year-old daughter while his wife, Mili, continued working with an NGO, his parents and relatives were dead against it.
“They kept telling me that men were not supposed to be primary care givers for children and that if I had sense, I would convince my wife to quit her job. Luckily my wife and I share a very open and healthy relationship of equals and so the traditional role-switching didn't do us any harm. On the contrary, we started valuing what each of us brought to the table more. I thoroughly enjoyed the two years I spent with Aanchal, our daughter. It gives you a whole new perspective on life itself.”
Sheena and Xavier Prasad, a working couple, have worked out their own “housework distribution” equation. “Xavier gets our three-year-old daughter ready for pre-school everyday and drops her on his way to work. We both share the cooking – he cuts and cleans while I cook and God forbid on days that the maid doesn't come, he scrubs while I wash the vessels!” says Sheena laughing and adding, “It helps that both of us come from families where we have seen our parents contributing equally to the family – at home and outside. So I guess we have no stereotypes in our heads of women sweating all day in the kitchens and men coming home to pretty wives waiting with steaming hot chai and samosas!” Of course the journey for women's empowerment and freedom has been a long and arduous one and while we take time out today to thank the men in our lives who have stood by us, let us not forget the countless women who still live restrictive lives.