Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Feminist or Independent or strong #daughterstories

This was what my daughter wore to a wedding recently and while she got a lot of 'ooos' and 'aaas' and maybe a few frowns, one particular comment led to a lovely conversation with my most favorite person!

Comment : 'Lovely and elegant!! Zivakutty I hope 20 years later also you will show the same passion to this most elegant dress.
While that comment hit some deep dark wound from a long ago. I responded this way

Response: In 20 years ... I pray she is happy.. healthy and as passionate about life as she is now. The sarees, skirts and pants will come and go :)

One person seemed to like my comment and I wondered whether I had touched some deep dark wound from long ago! I wondered if there were other wounded souls walking around who had to wear clothes that others thought were elegant.
FYI: My closet is very mixed. I have it all. No not 150 sarees in all colors! But pants, skirts (short and long ones), shorts, tops, sleeveless, salwars, dungrees, sarees, pyjamas, jeans, t-shirts, sweats, tracks. I am not one who will tell you what to wear and not to. I believe you are mature enough to decide that. I am not one who will tell you your 'inner' wear is showing. I believe everyone in this world wears one and sometimes it shows!

At one time Ziva and I were at war over clothes, some two years ago when she three years! Yes! She wanted to wear only skirts and she had a lot of very cute shorts. Somehow, I think, she had figured in her head that girls wear only shirts. She actually looks the cutest in a pair of chequed pants that are a hand me down from her brother. And no she doesn't look like a boy. She looks like a feisty 5-year old with fire in her eyes and passion to conquer the world, with a naughty smile to kill all!

I did wonder if I was raising her too boyish and I realized with the saree episode, Ziva was a strong young girl, and she would be herself no matter what she wore. She would light up any room she went into.
While my thoughts were brewing over the saree and other fancy clothes, this person sent me this particular article.

While I love the article and agree with the lot of the things the author says, I am not so sure about the use of the word 'feminist'. I have been called a feminist (by someone who did not know me) because I asked a husband to got help his wife make tea instead of comment on the color of the tea or the taste as she struggled to make it for 20 people. Its not about equality. Its not about independence.
As I was brewing over this article, the person who sent me this said one more thing and I liked it very much
Comment:While saying/believing men are superior is misogyny, saying/believing women are superior is misandry. Both aren't helpful. Its not a competition between men  and women.
Wow! How true? So then feminism was wrong?
I thought on my initial experience on wanting to be equal to men or boys. Most of the resentment to be better or equal came from an extra bias toward the boy cousins in our family. We were always restrained or told we couldn't do certain things which our boy cousins got a free hand at.
Don't climb trees!
Don't ride the bicycle so much!

I brewed on that thought for a moment and wondered what I wanted to pass on to my daughter. No! Not what I want her to be. But what I want to share with her. Here is how it came out.
A feminist may think 'equal', but actually we are not. Some things, we women do far better and something men may do far better. No, this is not gender roles. I do not intend to say that I bake better than Suresh! But here is a more role reversal rarely seen in families - Finances. I do a far better job at maintaining them than the man of the house :). I, however, believe he has a God ordained responsibility over the house which he protects and provides for.

So Ziva - don't strive for equality,  strive instead toward your strength because when you are strong there will be no need to be equal.

Be a strong woman... one of character and confidence. Be a passionate woman. Be an emotional woman one who is willing to shed and show her tears. Do not mask it under holiness or false egoistical strength.
A feminist may think that hearts don't get broken!
An independent woman may never accept that her heart is broken!
But a strong woman is willing to set a heart in a place where it may get broken time and again. Sometimes her family will break it ... sometimes her friends will break it. She picks up the pieces and keeps at her strength.
Be that kind of a woman Ziva!

A feminist may climb a tree just so that she can show equality
An independent woman may not want any help while she climbs the tree
But a strong woman will accept help and want to climb up to enjoy the view and the company! As she climbs she will take help others climb up to.
Be that kind of woman Ziva!

A feminist may look for reasons to exclude the men in her life (father, brother, husband etc)
An independent woman may think she can get on in life without these men
A strong women knows the value of these men in her life. She knows they bring her a significance and security that she can gain from nowhere else. She also knows she is valued and honored by them. Her strength comes from not demanding it but realizing it
Be that kind of woman Ziva!

PS: This is not meant to offend anyone. I do not have a problem with feminism or independence. But I have learned through life that a person is more complete when they can believe that they are both strong and weak. No one is equal. :). The war for equality makes one person feel victimized and the other made to believe they are superior.

/ A friend of mine responded over FB to this blog and I am sharing it here. I dont agree with all of it./
Such a nice article. I am so glad your daughter is growing so well, also growing with such an amazing role model. .....Also, feminism may not be a bad word.... Independent women :: may be equal to :: strong women :: may be equal to :: feminism. It is not probably to show anybody outside the measure of equality to the other gender. The thought process could have come from a time where women had to fight for equal rights just to vote or drive a car (we have traveled in a long way in most countries... some countries are still fighting for it). For our country - it may not be so strong, nevertheless sometimes, extremely subtle.... Sometimes, also has a religious/superficial cover to it. Nevertheless, still exists. We are fortunate that we do not face major issues for our rights, but the struggle still is strong for the majority. Feminism is not a bad word; it may not be the struggle to prove a point. Just the aspect that one recognizes the efforts of the past women who fought to where we can be free and those women who continue to fight for basic rights. Feminism may just be strong :) Happy Day

/To which I responded/
It's just that the word has been misused/misconstrued/misunderstood!
The pursuit should not be equality ...Rather respect !

/To which another was made/
I agree. "feminism" as a term is being shunned. But if it was not for the women's movement who fought so hard, we would not have been where we are as a society. I would not be working with equal wages or given a right to vote. I agree feminism is not about superiority but mutual respect - Unfortunately, the terminology now when used is not perceived the same way. Nevertheless, feminism was the movement that we can even have this discussion. So, feminism is good :) Also, one correction - the discussion is not about equality (since equality is given) but the argument about superiority is to be removed.

/And me again/
I believe equal wages should be given to those who deserve. Gender, race, minority, class, religion etc ... nothing ... nothing should define equality! We are unequal. We were created that way. We were created to fit into each other. What a peaceful world that would be if we just recognized that! If we were all equal then we would all look alike and behave alike. What a Black or White world that would be? Respect - the weaker person not because you feel sorry - but because you fit into one another. Respect - the stronger person not out of envy - but because you have so much more to learn.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sleeping with the enemy! #notwhatitsoundslike

It was 2:58 pm ... I had woken up 15 minutes  ago and yet not gotten out of bed. Thanks to the enemy! I jumped out of bed and started to hurry around the house, because now I was late for taking the kids to gymnastics class. Then there was the rushing and the hushing and screaming at the kids
All because of sleeping with the enemy!

It seemed like a regular affair now. To sleep and wake up with the enemy.
I thought I was the only one in the disastrous down spiraling path till DH confessed too!
'I spend so much time after I wake up just scrolling through FB'

Yes - That's the enemy I am talking about. The darn phone!
Luckily we ended 2016 by making a solid effort to stopping this 'affair'. It not like DH and I did not realize this but the following video was simply perfect!


We slept with the enemy most of the time because it was our alarm clock and 'woke up' much later than even if we didn't have the alarm ring and feeling much worse.
In the past few months, I can, with a lot of guilt, say that I have wasted so many hours on Facebook and Whatsapp. I wish I had watched a movie instead. At least I would feel like I had done something.
I remember my dad calling the TV an idiot box when we were kids. He would repeat time and again on what a waste of time it was and how we would become ... well Idiots.
But I now think the TV is much lesser of an evil!
Its not just the time - but the complete lack of accomplishment of anything at the end of the time with this enemy that leaves you feeling well... miserable.
And it was just not me that this habit affected. The whole family... no wait the whole community ... all the people around me seemed affected by this vice. Some time mid last year, DH made me realize that I was way too addicted to the phone even when there were people around me. He, of course did not mention his early morning rendezvous with the 'enemy'.
I consciously made an effort to put away the 'enemy' when I had company, when I visited people and when we went out as a family. And while it was improving, I had forgotten to put the 'enemy' away while I slept.
The issue with sleeping, eating, walking and everything else with the 'enemy' is that it becomes so much a part of you that you almost need a de-addiction center for it.
I realized that I got irritable with the kids after reading a few frustrating messages over whatsapp chats. Yes people now feel the chat a far safer way to share bad new and negative reviews :). I do too. But it affects the person at the receiving end so much.
As part of my de-addiction process, I tried to uninstall FB and Whatsapp from my phone. But that really did not seem like the solution.

After watching the videos a few key things struck us. DH watched the video few more times and we made a couple quick changes.
1. No sleeping with the 'enemy'. As the video suggests - get an alarm clock. We had an old phone with not sim card and we started using that. In the past few days since starting this habit, I have been able to wake up, get my quiet time, get my work time and get my me time with a nice long walk!
2. I would often go for Gymnastics class and sit outside and turn on my internet. Now instead I make sure I  turn of the internet till I get back home. And so for the past few classes, I have been going for walks up and down the road outside the venue.
3. No phone at the table. No phone during school hours. In general being available completely for the kids. Ignoring phone calls if possible.

It sounds all good. A nice New Years resolution. But on day 3 of the New Year I found myself at it yet again. I was at a hair cut appointment where I had decided that I would read some stuff. But half way through I found myself commenting on other peoples photos on FB! Just as I was starting to feel the enemy slowly take over my 1.5 hr, I noticed a missed call from my mom.
I called her back and saved myself from the enemy! Small changes ... Big Difference. My phone call with my mom ... made me very happy as she shared lots of good news about many in the family :)

PS: I don't think its Facebook and Whatsapp or other social media that's the evil. It's our complete lack of self control and an instrument that makes it so accessible at out finger tips that causes all hell break lose!