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.