Heard, witnessed and experienced gender inequality all my life. Dark skinned, short stature, overweight, all the body-shaming attributes amplify when you are a woman. Intelligence, leadership, courage, all the attributes of success and power are ridiculed when they reside in a woman’s body.
Nature makes a baby by combining the genes of both parents, mother and father. Yet, diverse communities all around the world unite in one common misbelief that only a son carries the family lineage forward, a daughter does not.
However, times are now changing. We are moving towards women empowerment. We are moving towards equal opportunities. Women are being encouraged to take the world platform. Yet, the idea of stereotyping gender roles is sowed deep inside us. When woman pilots are controlling an aircraft, they are applauded. I ask why? We never applaud a male pilot for his work. Is it because we think that controlling an aircraft by a male is no big deal? Why does it become a great deal when a woman does it. Why is it a great deal when women surgeons perform a surgery that they are trained for just as their male colleagues at college. Is it because we continue to think that women performing medical procedures with precision is not a quality that a woman possesses usually?
Recently, I came across interviews of two women who have been exceptionally successful in their fields. One of them hailed from a country that has never won a gold medal at the Olympics. As the brilliant athlete took on to represent her country at the competition this year, she expressed her desire to win with the following statement, “I wish to become the first woman of my country to win gold at the Olympics”. As said previously, her country had never won a gold at the Olympics, hence if she did win this year, she would be the first citizen of her country to bag the gold at Olympics. The other woman is an aspiring astronaut who is currently under training to spend a year in space for research purpose. No one from her country has ever been in space as yet. She is selected for this voyage is a matter of great pride for her country, yet, she exclaims her happiness by saying, ‘I am very excited to be the first woman from my country to work on a space mission’.
These two super talented women are the going to be first citizens of their country to embark on these journeys, yet, they are somehow convinced that more than being the first citizens from of their country, their pride is in being the ‘first woman’ to be achieving this. Because women are never expected to do something like this by virtue of it.
If a man wins a competition that his country has never won before, he becomes the first Indian or first American to do it. But in case of a female winner, she becomes the ‘first woman from her country’ to achieve it.
For years, we have stereotyped tasks amongst both the genders. If a woman is taking care of her baby, its something that she expected to do. If the father is doing the same, it’s something to be very proud of. If a woman cooks a meal, it’s expected. If the husband prepares dinner for the family, it’s a big deal. If a woman undertakes a courageous activity, she is applauded for it and compared to a man. If a woman handles her family alone without any male support, she is applauded for being the ‘man of the family’; No dear lady, you are the ‘woman of the family’.
When a woman runs the family single-handedly, she is still being the pillar of the family, she is the woman of the family. It’s not the male attribute alone, a woman is equally capable and responsible to take care and protect her family.
Have you ever thought, why on a cold winter evening, a woman wearing a guy’s jacket is considered as trendy and cool, while a man covering his head on a sunny afternoon with a woman’s scarf labelled funny? When men try on women garments, it becomes a joke. Because men trying on anything that is labelled as a ‘woman thing’ is ludicrous. And Women doing something that is labelled as a ‘man thing’ is considered as courageous and extraordinary.
It scares me to acknowledge how deep down we are convinced that if it is something that involves risks, strength, and is first of its kind, it has to be a manly thing. And when a woman happens to do it accomplish the same, then it becomes a great deal, because women are usually considered as weak.
It’s high time we get over gender stereotyping and begin focusing on equal opportunities and equal encouragement. Encourage a man and a woman alike. Applaud a man and a woman alike. Compliment the parenting skills of a mother and a father alike. No task is only a man’s task and no chore is a woman’s only chore. The wheel of the universe is run by the unison of male and female energies alike. Nature does not discriminate both sexes then why do we humans do?