I am writing about a very casual discussion that I had with one of my male friend. The discussion was about “Gender Equality”. One of the most talked about, debated topic. One of my favorite too. Many feel it should exist, many others feel it can be done away with as both genders can never be on same scale of equality and very few think it does exist. The count of people belonging to the third category is so small that could be dismissed. Basically we are left with two opinions/ sects/ mind frames.
So it was during one of our casual conversation that eventually paved way for our discussion regarding gender equality I got an idea about how men perceive gender equality. It all started when I came across a news related to domestic violence against women. Being a women I naturally felt disturbed and expressed my concern regarding the same to my friend. I voiced my opinion in support of more stringent laws against such lowly acts such as domestic violence or any other heinous crimes against women. My friend who was listening to my comments with lot of patience now wanted to put forth his view. He asked me if I believe in Gender Equality or if I vouch for it? Yes I do, don’t you support the same cause was my question. ” See I definitely stand for it but sometimes in order to do justice to one we end up doing injustice to the counterpart” he answered. It was not clear to me. So I demanded an explanation. Listening to his explanation I thought he had a valid and fair point. He said ” We are against dowry, it’s a social evil but if a girl evaluates a marriage proposal in terms of materialistic comforts, future security and opts for more secured option available then no one calls her opportunists/ selfish. On contrary everyone thinks she is practical and matured. No such benefit of doubt is given to men. Moving further if a man wishes/ requests his wife to work so that family could achieve financial stability most common question that arises instantly is “what kind of man is this living on his wife’s earnings?” And if by mistake a man asks his wife to quit job with the purest intention of giving her comfortable life without her toiling out all hell break loose. Suddenly the man in question is male chauvinist and egoist who is hindering woman’s freedom. Where does the rules of gender equality apply here. Further he added that a girl can shower all the love in this world and continue supporting her family after marriage but a man equally loving his parents and her, disturbs her peace. She only finds solace if the scale tilts more towards her. It’s at least a most common scenario in this age of nuclear families. His next argument questioned our tears as a way of showing our emotions. He said it’s absolutely normal for a girl or woman to shed tears as a symbol of her emotional outburst but what is the most common reaction if you see a man crying. He is labelled weak. Is this called gender equality, he exclaimed. Isn’t our pain same as yours? I can’t completely deny to his arguments. I know its hard to accept but we, women do use tears as weapon at some point of time in our lives. But I maintained my straight face and my arguments about justice for women, their empowerment and whatever I could think about in their favour. In this context my friend echoed my opinions but not without corrections. He said ” nothing under the sun should stop law from taking its course, in fact strict and strong course against criminals who do crime against women but have you ever realized what would happen if same laws are used rather misused to attain selfish goals? I denied it outright. “Its impossible whatever you are talking about” I replied. Denying something doesn’t erase its existence, he continued in his usual calm manner. My friend said ” I can give you numerous cases wherein wrong charges have been levied just to frame innocent men to scoop out whatever they could money , property and even meaner mottos. But no one notices such issues or propagates for gender equality here. Don’t men deserve equal treatment or justice? I don’t want candle marches but want everyone to think from viewpoint of a person who has been wrongly implicated, what about future of that person or his family’s future. It should be given a thought.” Meanwhile many questions were hovering in my mind. Does it happen? Can my friend be totally wrong or right for that matter? Is this topic Gender Equality objective or subjective? To name a few are questions I was trying to figure out answers for.
Our conversation moved to a lighter note. According to my friend’s school of thought, between a man and a woman applying for a vacancy for the same position woman is always given the first preference. His own experience says so. “When women talk about equality at the drop of a hat then there should be same parameters of competition without any bias or undue reservations. And trust me physical strength or weakness is not and should never be measurement criteria for one’s abilities. At this point I want to ask you one thing, why is that women portray themselves as weak or strong as per situation?” My tone changed as I questioned him ” do you want women to be always portrayed weak and stay weaker?” A little smile crossed my friend’s face as he answered me ” not even in my faintest thoughts I thought women to be weak as they are creators after God, my only question is what’s the need of presenting or portraying one’s self”. Hmmm fair point.
So finally what’s the conclusion. When we talk about Gender Equality it should encompass both the genders. We should be sensitive towards the emotions of both male and female. Empowering one and turning a blind eye towards the issues of other could endanger and disturb the peace/ the balance of our society.