Gender Stereotypes, Women Empowerment & Feminism
Updated: Feb 15
A generation that is witnessing many success stories of women on one side and on another, they see age old traditions that demean women still continuing, the matter can be intriguing.
Photo by Thought Catalogue on Unsplash
The crucial questions that set the ball rolling: For centuries, women have fought for equal rights and against gender based discrimination. Today, although the problem persists, signs of hope are springing more often with women making strides in many walks of life. This however has not been sufficient to wipe out age old traditions that still continue to demean women to this day. This trend raised several questions in the minds of the young executives, that simply must not be ignored.
The Young Writers’ mind blowing perspectives
How far have women come?
Several inputs started to come in based on what they had read earlier. They briefly discussed the suffrage movement in the west and how women were not allowed to do many things such as drive cars as they were deemed unfit. The group then turned their focus to India. They pointed out examples of women in Indian History standing up for themselves against all odds- a feat that was not generally acceptable. Women were not permitted to participate in the affairs of the kingdom but circumstances made it possible for these brave women to come forward and rule kingdoms with an iron fist. Although this is true, these brave women are few in number and can be counted on our finger tips. Their assent was no way easy when compared to what their male counterparts did for power. The British invasion brought about change in unimaginable ways. While women could seek employment, the freedom struggle saw a number of women fighting for the country’s independence and considered at par with their male counterparts.
The Young Writers who have not seen India’s first woman prime minister and the first woman president, dug into their knowledge of women empowerment happening now in different walks of life. The girls on the group shared with much pride news reports about women fighter pilots performing stunts at the recent Republic Day celebrations. Air India had three women pilots fly the longest flight ever. In the west Maya Weug became the youngest female driver to qualify for training to be a race car driver. From being forced to dress pretty and remain behind the scenes when asked, women have come a long way. Menfolk are more willing to accept change and contribute to managing households. More number of fathers of girl children encourage them to get educated and pursue their dreams. It was recognised that this is not universally true in every family, considering that men contributing in the kitchen for example is still frowned upon in many families.
Why not get rid of gender based discrimination by simply accepting that men and women have different capabilities, which when combined can produce far better results?
Women too have inherent strength which they derive having to go through physical pain during menstruation as well as during child delivery. Just as men have physical and mental strength on account of some very specific capabilities, the same is true for women as well.
The young executives pointed out more than one instance in which society tends to prescribe certain dictums that may be far from the truth but compels people to follow much against their wishes. Feminism means giving women the choice to do what they want to do. It must not become another rule which women are afraid to defy.
Blue vs pink: Why should pink be associated with girls alone? This feminist view tends to get distorted when girls shy away from expressing their like or dislike for pink for the fear of being ridiculed. The generally accepted notion that pink is not for men interferes with men too. Society teaches one to say that it is awkward if a man chooses to wear a pink shirt.
Age old practices that refuse to go away
The subject enabled many of the young executives to reflect upon instances which they have witnessed in their daily lives. They shared stereotypic views that dictate right from what toys a boy or girl should play with to the taboos attached with puberty and thereafter menstruation. While some of them were aware of such practices, the others were shocked as they had not witnessed these incidents in their own families. On the contrary they had seen equal support and encouragement for boys as well as girls. Recognising how girls feel when they are discriminated in their own homes is a valuable lesson to learn and an effective deterrent to such practices continuing in the future.
Will Tables Turn In The Future?
For almost a century and a half women’s rights and empowerment has been a subject of discussion across the world. Laws have been passed to safeguard their rights & programs have been developed to ensure girls’ education even in the remote parts of the world. The years ahead will most likely see women’s participation rising even more in various walks of life. What does that mean for the menfolk?
The young writers see much promise in the future. They say with much optimism:
Men will not become underdogs. Women are more sensitive, they are aware of how it is to be underdogs and hence will not let it happen.
Gender role stereotypes are beginning to disappear- men are working in roles that were predominantly only for women before- eg: chefs, hair stylists, makeup channels by men for men etc.
Change is already happening. The boys on the group shared instances from their own lives which made them uncomfortable and inspired them to speak up. During the session they opposed society’s dictums such as a boy seen playing with kitchen toys is unacceptable or a boy learning to cook and enjoying it, is not a matter of pride, and so on.