Ours has been a patriarchal society where men and women have well-defined roles. Traditionally men were always expected to step outside to provide for the family while women were expected to stay at home and take care of the family. The question of women stepping out to work did not arise, though there were always exceptions. This went on for decades, but with time things changed and continue to change. While the roles of men have primarily remained the same, those of women have changed and evolved. What women did or were expected to do has also undergone a sea change.
How has the Change Taken Place?
If we go back in time, we find that was when women were just supposed to support men by staying in the house and taking care of it and the family. There was no question of them stepping out to earn a living. They had no separate identity and were known as some man’s wives/daughters/sisters.
But that did not mean that women of those times were happy doing that or had no aspirations. Some women stepped out to work and carved their identities even in those days. Seeing them, many others wanted to do the same, but societal norms and customs did not let them do that. Most women abided by them willingly, and others had no choice.
But though these women had to stifle their ambitions, they did everything they could to ensure the next generation did not have to bear the brunt of what they had to face. These women planted the seed of ambition in their daughters and encouraged them to have their own careers. They provided them with emotional and physical support to face the challenges they faced in their journey. They instilled in them the desire to carve an identity and to look beyond the home and the hearth.
So the next generation saw women stepping out in large numbers to get educated and work. There was no career or avenue that did not see representation from women. What is more, these women sometimes surpassed men in their professional achievements, which was new. But stepping out did not mean these women were not responsible for their families. They still had to do what their mothers had done. Yes, there was help and some support from the spouses, but the home front was still their responsibility. They couldn’t ignore it. In fact, these women carried a double burden of working outside the house and caring for everything in the house, which wasn’t easy. Juggling different balls was challenging, to say the least. Somewhere they were made to believe that having a career was a choice, but taking care of the home and family was a responsibility that couldn’t be ignored. So like trapeze artists, they tried to be everywhere, and while they managed that, they also learnt a lesson which they passed on to the next generation.
The lesson they learnt was that they needed to draw a line regarding responsibilities on the personal and professional front. They could not take on everything by themselves and prove to the world that they could do it all. And they definitely did not need to pay the price for taking on a career by taking on every kind of responsibility at home. They did not need to compensate for wanting to and having a career. The world had to accept that a working woman was as natural as her male counterpart. But before the world could be taught that, the women had to learn it themselves. And learned they did and passed it on to the next generation.
The new-age woman is the result of what she has inherited from the past and more. Evolution takes time, and the new-age woman is a testimony to that. As we find them today, women are evolved, aware and enlightened. Let’s see how.
Women today know what they want and how they will get there and leave absolutely no stone unturned to do that. Whether professional or personal, they are pretty clear about their goals and aspirations. They also realise they can’t do it alone, so they can seek help wherever required. They differ from the previous generation, who tried to do it all. The new-age women new have evolved not to take every possible burden on themselves. They don’t want to wear the mantle of superwomen and are only willing to do as much as possible. To do that, they prioritise and do things accordingly. So if work needs precedence on a day, they will focus on work, and if it is the family wanting their attention, they will turn their focus to family and not feel guilty about doing that.
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By doing that, they can give their best to the chosen task and get close to their targets of achievement and ambition. They can delegate whatever they can’t do without shame or remorse. Their stepping back means the men must step forward and contribute to the family and home. And the new gen man is happy to do that. Everyone has that humane side to them, and men are no different. So when women ask for help, many men step in to help. But, of course, that’s not universally true. Patriarchy still rules the roost, and it is not all that easy. But somewhere, by drawing a line and taking a stand, women are getting things to change.
They are changing themselves; the change is happening within them and spilling over. Women have realised they cannot do it all and are not even attempting to do that. Instead, they are learning to strike a balance, not by trying to do everything themselves but by seeking help.
I think the most remarkable thing is that the new-age woman does not believe she is perfect and is happy about that, unlike women from the previous generation who wanted to believe and prove that they were perfect career women, wives, mothers and anything and everything else. So they had unrealistic expectations of themselves, which got passed on to others as well.
The new-age woman is practical and realistic in her approach to life. She realises that life is a mix of work and play. So if she needs to work for herself or others, she must also take time out and pursue her hobbies and passion because they also give her happiness. She is ok to go on a holiday with her friends, leaving the family behind. She has no qualms about doing things which give her joy and pleasure. This break from everyday life infuses her with renewed joy, vigour and motivation to get back to the routine refreshed and re-energised.
She is not harried and constantly harassed, running from pillar to post to balance a million things. She is juggling different balls, but only the critical ones and leaving unnecessary things to fall by the side.
She accepts that if one day the cook doesn’t turn up and she has an important meeting, it is ok to order in rather than trying to do both.
Her biggest learning is; Teach the world how to treat you.
The world is her oyster, and she is spreading her wings to go for it doing all the things she wants, all the things she loves.