Before I start to write anything, let me tell you that I am a feminist. I advocate for the equality of sexes. But I don’t think that even if millions of people like me support for the cause, there isn’t going to be any significant change in the role women play in the society. These figures from World Bank which shows the labour force participation rate of women in India exemplifies it. To oversimplify things for the sake of this post, I am classifying millennial women in India into 3 broad categories.
1. The Conservative set:
They make up a huge chunk of the population. Their dreams are limited. Cultural backgrounds have forced them to draw boundaries to their goals. Their parents don’t focus on what their aspirations are. They are told to maintain “decency” and are restricted from activities like late night partying, fashion dressing and sometimes even speaking out their opinion raises eyebrows. Fingers are pointed towards them when they mingle too much with men. You get the idea right? But if they start believing that it’s the way they are supposed to live they are making a catastrophic mistake. Before anything else, they need to dig into themselves and find out their lost ambition. What drives them? What would they do if there is no one around to judge. They need to stop worrying about their mounting age, pressure from their parents to marry early, pressure to quit their jobs. Does it feel too tough to go against parents and society? Well let them imagine themsleves being 85 years old at the brink of their lives turning back and realising that all they have done is cook and feed their husband/kids/grandkids. Are they going to print their qualifications on their marriage cards or are they going to make an impact with it? They can live independently and make money by themselves. One thing which they need to do is to start living their lives instead of others.
“I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered” – Hillary Clinton
2. The Vacuous Set:
Unlike the first set, they have the luxury of being born into liberal families. They don’t have any limitations or ceilings on what they want to achieve. But the problem is they never think of achieving something. They are tamed too much to act wild. They are content with what they have and never think of multiplying it. They need a guy who earns well on one hand and unconditionally loves them on the other. You might probably have imagined a few people while reading through these lines. But it isn’t their fault completely. They have a sense of insecurity. They want to appear “cool” and do not want to be lost in the crowd. The similarity between them and the conservative set is that they pay too much attention to the people around them. Even they are unaware of what drives them. How would they? All their time is invested in materialistic things like glamour, beauty, crappy movie gossips, mocking conservative women or mocking anyone who they think aren’t fashionable/ don’t spend much/ have an inferior lifestyle. They never invest in themselves which makes them vacuous and in specific cases it earns them tags like bimbos. Bottomline: Dearth of both empathy and intellect. One thing which they need to do is to start pivoting their time onto productive things and challenge men in all aspects of life.
“Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.” – Hedy Lamarr
3. The Rational Set:
These women are great adapters. Irrespective of the type of families they are born into, they push their potential. They are rational minded and set up at least short term goals. These are usually the type of women who contribute their fair share instead of adhering to fallacies that men are supposed to pay every time or that only men are supposed to save money. They do that because they hate being dependent. They aim high to the ranks of starting their own business or growing up through the corporate ladder or becoming a professor or sometimes even dedicating their lives to research. They don’t blame that society is inherently gender biased and sit back. They sense the rise of feminism and make full use of it. They know how to persuade people. Just like a majority of men, they are hungry to make a mark and make their voice be heard. They don’t let stereotypes dent their ambitions. But the problem is that relatively they are very few in number and sometimes even these set of women become complacent.
“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman” – Margaret Tatcher
It all comes down to a simple choice for women in India today. Are they going to sit back and play they blame game or are they going to figure out a way around ? I am not telling that there aren’t major problems being faced by women today. There is no moral encouragement. They struggle to balance their lives between their conservative older generations and their liberal peers. Add a never ending bunch of creeps to that.
But there are always multiple ways to react to a problem and how you react defines your mindset. For instance, take the wage differences between men and women cricket teams. The conservative set of women would feel that sports isn’t really a woman’s thing and that the players should feel happy for making it that far. The vacuous set would start ranting about how everything in the world is biased against woman. The rational set would….well, think rationally. How many people watch women’s cricket ? How many women watch women’s cricket ? How can any sponsor (shirt/title/broadcast) justify their expenses with such a low audience. If they are determined to change the status quo, they take the baby steps. Watching the game, sharing updates on social media, creating interest amongst their peers. If enough women in the country have this mindset then………..well, I don’t know. But I do know that it will lead to a better outcome than self-regressing and doing nothing or ranting and doing nothing.
On a positive note, things are changing for better. Look how the United Nations is planning to elect their next leader or how Canadian PM Trudeau elected his cabinet. This expanding list also features female Indian entrepreneurs. To sum it up, if the mindset of women isn’t going to change, no government policy will help in bridging the gap of the labour force participation rate that I have mentioned in the intro.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.