The other day my friends and I decided to move from one party venue to another, in a different part of the city. With one bike, no cars and a non-availability of the Olas and Ubers, we were struggling to plan the logistics to reach the new destination. One of the girls, Sia was already high and was not comfortable riding her bike. Rahul a friend of ours offered to ride her bike. Another guy rode pillion with him while Sia joined the rest of us in a cab.
“Why are two of them coming on a bike, one of them could have come with us in the cab.” I asked.
“Because Rahul (who is riding) does not know the way, and the other guy does not know how to ride.” Sia replied.
“Oh God! They are both like girls – one can’t drive and one doesn’t know directions!” remarked Kunal with a hearty laugh.
Sia and I both pounced on him! “Hey! Women can drive and follow directions!”
“Oh sorry to offend you feminists! You demean men when you like and use men when you like. Poor Rahul is riding your bike. Someone else will drop you home after the party. Convenient!”
And he got me thinking…
Feminism is not about demeaning men. It is about gender equality. But if the idea of a woman being equal to a man is demeaning to a man, then that pretty much explains why feminism is needed in the first place.
Feminism actually benefits men. In this example, a gender stereotype towards women was used to insult a man. Who said women cannot drive or follow directions? Why should we believe that all men should be ace drivers with a perfect sense of direction? Who are these generalizations helping? Women? Men? Men cannot cry, calling men sissies are all extremely judgmental thoughts on conforming to gender stereotypes.
Women also end up using regressive terminology without realizing that they are degrading themselves. I have heard girls say this about their boyfriends in consensual relationships once it is over:
“He used me!”
I don’t think women should think of themselves as something “usable” ever. It is a self-depreciating term. Wouldn’t the same woman complain if somebody referred to her as “used”?
Many people ask me that women talk about equality and yet expect men to pay on the date, hold the door and offer to carry the heavy luggage. I think feminism and chivalry can mutually coexist, and personally I am a big fan of chivalry. To me chivalry is more than just the acts of paying a bill on a date but about the overall values which a man holds and the respect he shows towards women.
Does that make me a hypocrite?
I can’t help but share the thought of a dear friend of mine who is not a feminist for the above reason.
“Men should not treat a woman equally. They should treat her better!” she says.
If chivalry is against feminism, then shouldn’t feminism be good for men? If a woman wants chivalry should she not talk about feminism? If a man does not believe in feminism should he atleast be chivalrous?
Would like to invite thoughts from readers and I hope men participate in this discussion too.
© 2016, Tanvi Sinha. All rights reserved.