Scene 1: A girl and a boy are trying to climb on the monkey bars. Both seem to be of the same age and look like friends. The girl’s mother was clapping and cheering for her. The girl made it to the other side so did the boy. The mom of the girl said, “Hey! My little princess is so strong, as strong as boys.”

Scene 2: The children wanted to show off their new found skill so they went on to the monkey bars again. This time the girl fell down halfway. Her mom picked her up and said,” It’s okay, boys have more physical strength.”

I was walking one evening in the society when I witnessed this. I could feel the confusion on the boy’s face. I think his mother was not with him. I wonder what she would have said to him. My thoughts went to my sons. I am a mother of two boys. I admit when I had my first son, I was a little worried about how I would bring him up as I thought I would not have anything in common. Though I grew up in a joint family with a lot of cousins brothers, I never liked the books and movies the boys liked. I would enjoy cricket matches but was not obsessed with them. The games we girls played were laughed at by the boys.

Conscious “up-bringing”

With my first son, I made a common ground. I started playing all the sports he liked. I read to him books which girls loved along with the books that boys loved. Along with his cars, I bought a kitchen set for him. I learnt the names of cars and their make along with him. I played with his transformers too.

When I had my second son, I was prepared. I brought them up without any gender stereotypes. They know they have to pitch in to help in all the household chores. They are learning all necessary life skills. They know that when they want to cry, they can. They know everything about consent and how they should behave with a girl.

Having done my bit, I am a worried soul nowadays. The incident at the park, for instance worries me because we’re all happy to talk about our desire for ‘strong women’ in society, these days. It almost feels like victory over oppression. On the other hand, when I hear ‘strong men’ I think of negative connotations like misogyny or bullying.

We are so obsessed with this, that any display of male strength is discouraged.

Equality beyond gender stereotypes

While I am extremely happy that after years of discrimination, women deserve a chance to shine and achieve whatever their heart desires, I can’t help feeling that in the process of doing so, we’re in danger of swinging too far the other way. In empowering girls, we’re also dis-empowering our boys.

I want a future which brings about change but not one gender over another. Isn’t it better that way?

I know some women will argue that feminism is not about male bashing and they hate it when we say all men are not bad. But when I see that every other article is about feminism, every movie review is about the female characters, and when every sportswoman is celebrated because she is a female instead of her achievement, it worries me. Why? Because when I am teaching my sons to appreciate every woman who is strong and successful, they need to be appreciated too for being strong and successful. And I want them to accomplish whatever they want, not because of their gender, but because of their self-worth.

While we teach our boys to be appreciative about successful women we also need to teach our girls that it’s okay to date a guy or marry a guy who is not as successful as she is. Because in most cases however successful they are, the women look for men who are equally or a little more successful. This again confuses the man when he has learnt to accept the fact that a woman can be more successful than him.

Again, these are stereotypes that we need to change if we really want equality in every way.

Men are very confused. They don’t know how and what to talk because they can’t risk being called sexist. I know this because as a mother of boys, I can vouch for the fact they are as vulnerable as any girl.

I am a feminist but I don’t want my boys to be left behind.


 

 

 

 

 

Ms. Lalitha Sivapurapu 
CHIREC Parent

I am a mother of two wonderful kids and in raising them, I have learnt to see the world through their eyes and mind. With them, I have had to relearn the new age rules of influence, communication and conviction and in this process found my passion for writing. I have been blogging since 2017. I have a blog of my own and also write for various platforms. I have been a featured author on Women’s web, India’s leading website for women.

I have won awards for Flash Fiction and have also been nominated twice for the Orange Flower Festival, an annual mega event by Women’s web for writing. I was one of the 20 winners of #SheIsStrong stories conducted by Opined in collaboration with Women’s web. I have won various awards on Momspresso, India’s best parenting website and have also written sponsored blogs for it.

I am also a Professional Storyteller. I hold a Diploma from Kathalaya International Academy of Storytelling, affiliated to International Storytelling Centre, Tennessee, USA. I used to work as a Lecturer of Commerce before taking a sabbatical to take care of the kids.