See all stories by Smita Sarda
Entire India rejoiced when Olympic medal was brought home by a gender they did not expect from. Shrieks of joy were heard from every corner of the medal drought nation. This feat would have inspired millions of young girls and their parents to achieve their sporting dreams. A lot of congratulatory messages were shared on all the social media platforms. However, amongst the piles of forwards were some misplaced messages on feminism.
“Times are changing, Indian men wins beauty competitions and Indian women win sports medal”.
“A nation obsessed with boys, girls saved the pride of our motherland”
“Only women can love gold”
Our boys were criticized for losing. Have we ever thought, does anyone go to the playground with the idea of losing? Girl or boy, every sportsperson try to give their best. Our girls winning does not make our boys effortless. A medal won by a girl or boy is equally important for the nation.
Similarly, downplaying the achievement of our “Mr. World” is equally callous. Both have achieved success in their respective field. By making the above statements we are not supporting feminism. Our society has labeled the fields, sports – men’s domain, beauty – women’s domain. However, sports (physical strength attributed by men) garners more appreciation than beauty (attributed by women). A female flying high in the men domain is to be encouraged but not when men scale new heights in a female-dominated field. Is this not sexism? Comments like, ”Women were not made to do everything that men can. They were made to do everything that men can’t” makes me ponder, who decides what a person can and cannot do?
I applied a beautiful Mehndi during one of the festivities and it was a guy who applied it. There were talks about how now boys will be doing girls work. Why are we gender grouping qualities? I am a girl, but extremely bad at any creative artwork. I am not a great cook, neither like cooking. All my packing is taken care by my husband. I do not have a great taste in clothes and accessories (my husband and sister are my fashion guides). Does that make me any less of a woman and my husband less of a man?? I don’t think so. We do what we like and not what we are supposed to or expected to like.
A girl who is a tomboy (I was one) is accepted to a certain extent by the society. However, the society can’t digest the reverse. Can’t there be boys who do not like sports or gadgets? Can’t there be boys who are sensitive, creative? Can’t there be boys who like dolls rather than superheroes? Why can’t both men and women do what they have their interest in rather than doing something they have no interest in.
We have gender-divided qualities. Exhibiting male qualities is a sign of superiority and female qualities is a sign of weakness. “She is tough like a boy”, is said with pride. ”Don’t cry like a girl”, is said with disgust. Worst is any male displaying a feminine streak is labeled as “Gay”. It’s time we stop this practice. Any quality worth appreciating is worth appreciating, whether imbibed by a girl or a boy. It makes no difference. Period.
We are in the midst of a revolutionary time. Our girls are groomed to break the glass ceiling. It’s time we encourage our boys to follow their dreams too, even if it is unconventional. We need to lay the foundation of a world where everyone is free to choose based on their wills and likings. A world where talent is rewarded and respected equally, irrespective of the gender that exhibits it. Nothing is too girly or too boyish.