(This article was published in the Sunday Reading of The Assam Tribune, April 9, 2017)
FOR WOMEN, because that is assumed to be their office
Notice how there is hardly any advertisement where the man is using the brand of edible oil in the kitchen or nappies for the child?
Notice how it is assumed that husbands can comment on the professional choices of a wife while the wives are often asked to steer clear of commenting on the husband’s office talk?
Notice how relatives, friends and even absolute strangers to the wife, offer unsolicited advice to her about how she should take care of her husband and yet refrain from the doing the same with the husband?
Notice how a wife is expected to keep herself fit and attractive to keep her husband interested in her and a husband is not?
Notice how a woman’s promiscuity is deemed to be a greater crime than a man’s womanising?
FOR MEN, because that is what ‘being a man’ somehow implies
Notice how they made a hullabaloo about Arjun Kapoor’s character wanting to be ‘a wife’ in Ki & Ka and that it is actually mohabbat and not ji huzoori?
Notice how being a ‘manny’ is deemed to be a sissy job for a man?
Notice how men are expected to ‘be a man’ to say Yes or No about something?
Notice how the silence at a wife’s rebuke makes a man ‘henpecked’ while that in a husband’s rebuke makes a wife ‘a wife’?
FOR BOTH, because apparently neither can switch sides
Notice how men are psychologically trained to be the bread earner of the family and berated if they are not, while the woman is considered fit for marriage if not a job?
Notice how the responsibility of old age parental care is invariably perched on a man while a woman doing the same is either blamed for being a husband-abusing feminazi or overtly appreciated for going out of her way?
Notice how a career in some kind of arts pursued by a man is deemed as hopeless and unyielding of a salary while a woman doing the same is her ‘being a woman’?
Notice how, there are skill sets into which a man and a woman’s worlds are divided, without considering that they could swap or coincide? E. g. A male chef and a female car expert.
Notice how we still have a men’s area and a women’s area in parties?
Notice how it is assumed that a woman looks sexy when she is naked and a man when he is fully clothed like neither could do either?
FOR ALL, because these choices transcend the presumed gender profiles
Notice how men interested in fashion designing are assumed to be gay because it isn’t ‘masculine’?
Notice how people react when they realise that a woman isn’t feminine?
Notice how people doubt a person’s sexual orientation or assume him/her to be secretly promiscuous because he/she chose to be single or adopt children?