The Balance That We All Need

What is with the modern times and feminism? What is it about women pressing for equal rights? Nothing, but are they the only one with rights? Don’t the others like men have rights too? Where is the line between fighting for what you don’t have, getting it and still carrying on with the “fight”? Why exactly would you do that? I get it when women fight for what they don’t have in terms of freedom, liberty, privileges and rights. But when you have most of it and still want more, to an extent where you misuse what you have, that is where I think the problem begins. And unless we as a society take measures to curb this tendency, we could be heading for some kind of a disaster.

I believe that when women do that they are basically doing to men what men have been doing to them all along.  But is that right? Is the struggle for equal rights, equal opportunity meant to shift the balance in favour of women?  Is this some form of revenge? Because as per my observation, most of the times, the men to whom this is done are not the perpetrators of the injustice. They are fair-minded agreeable individuals who get to bear the brunt of what they haven’t done. So then why would women, do that?  What is it all about? Is it about power?  Does it boil down to who has the power and who doesn’t? If that is the case, then isn’t the power being misused? And if we blame men when they do it, going by that logic, women should also be held accountable when they do it? This is an issue that I am battling with and can’t wrap my head around. Where are we headed as a society? Is there no sense of balance, of tolerance? Or is it about taking advantage because you can?

Feminism, as the dictionary meaning goes, is the belief that women should have the same rights, power and opportunities as men.

I firmly believe in that. There is every reason for such a world to exist, for everyone to be treated equally and fairly. And if to do that, someone needs to be brought up from a low level to a high level, then so be it. And also for that, if something extra needs to be done in terms of privileges and rights, then there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it should be pushed and encouraged.

But once a certain level has been reached then is there any need to push it further to a level where it gets to be misused and taken undue advantage of? Once the equilibrium has been reached, then pushing for more rights, more privileges, to an extent where it starts infringing on other people’s rights wouldn’t that lead to a disequilibrium, an imbalance?

I do know that this kind of balance does not exist in large sections of our society, but my concern is about those sections where it does and seems to be shifting to the other side. I feel that imbalance of any kind is detrimental to the health of society so therefore it is not about man or woman, boy or girl, it is about the misuse of a right, of a privilege. And no one should be allowed to get away with that.

An encounter with a young girl of today’s day and age got me thinking about this much-debated topic. I was having this conversation with a friend’s daughter about women and their rights during the course of which a few statements made by her got me thinking.  It made me start wondering if in the garb of safeguarding their interest and rights women today have started misusing the equal opportunity being provided to them. While this girl was all about getting equal treatment at the workplace, including equal pay, benefits, and workload, what shook me up completely was her ultimate ambition in life… hold your breath…the ambition as she said was to get married to a rich guy!!  Someone who had loads of money, a good position in society, basically someone who could provide her with a fancy lifestyle.

My obvious question to her was why would she want to depend on someone for what she wanted in life. She had a good job; she could work hard and get to where she wanted to. So why this dependence on a man?  Her answer was quite shocking. The answer was that once married; it was a man’s job to look after his wife and children. He had to earn enough to be able to support them.

My natural question was then what was a woman’s role. Was it to look after the house and the children? And the answer was a loud NO!! According to her, women took care of the home and the hearth in the olden times when they had nothing else to do. In a modern world, there wasn’t any need to do that. And if there was enough money, then people could be hired for that purpose.

Her views on working after getting married were even more unbelievable.  She felt a woman didn’t need to work after marriage. It all depended upon what she felt like doing.  Nobody could force her to if she didn’t want to. Her answers kind of baffled me. I couldn’t understand how she intended spending her time if she didn’t have anything to do.  And then she added that even if she continued to work after marriage, her salary would be hers and she would spend it only on herself. And if it fell short, then it would be the husband’s responsibility to make up for the shortfall.

On my asking if she would pitch in with the household expenses, her answer was again a NO!! She said that she would not contribute to the house at all. And when I asked her since she was all about equal treatment and all that, where the equality was in what she was saying, she had no answer. My next question to her what if her husband wanted her to contribute was met with the answer that she would flatly refuse to do that because that wasn’t a woman’s job. Providing for the family had always been a man’s job, and it still continued to be so. Therefore he had no right to ask her to do that. Her thinking seemed messed up, and it didn’t make any sense to me. And the mother muddled up the situation further[ at least for me!!]  by saying that nobody could make her daughter do anything that she didn’t want to do. And if they did that, then she could take recourse to the law which now favoured women!! Good, God!!

I couldn’t believe what was being said. Wasn’t what she was saying meant that she wanted the best of both the worlds? It seemed quite illogical [ again only to me it seems!!], And if the daughter’s attitude bothered me, the mother’s made me see red!! What was she teaching her daughter?? To be selfish, unfair, unjust and useless??!! Couldn’t she see what I could? Or was she turning a blind eye to her daughter’s idiotic, irrational thought process??

And as I have since discovered this isn’t just one case.  There are many young girls and their parents today whose only goal is to catch hold of a rich guy, and that’s it.  Education, looks are all a passport to get married to a guy belonging to a good, wealthy family. I find that to be self-contradictory, illogical and loathsome.

Thus, as I understand, young girls today are all about being strong, opinionated and about fighting for and getting all their rights. But it seems as though they only want rights and no duties which go along. And somewhere a number of them go too far and don’t know where to draw the line. Yes, you can and should fight for your rights, but it doesn’t mean that you take away the other person’s rights!! That is not feminism, that is extremism!! And no society can afford that.

There were times when women who were exploited by husbands had no option but to bear the brunt of it. Society or the legal system did not provide them with any kind of respite. To correct this, laws were framed to provide women with options and protection. But what is sad is the way now some women have started using the law to their advantage. They have started misusing it with the aid and abetment of their parents to harass the husbands or ex-husbands and their families. There are several instances where girls have taken the boys and their families to the cleaners by taking advantage of the legal system. And mind you these are all instances where the women were not being harassed or tortured or anything like that. These were all cases where the women were not willing to bend even a little bit to make the relationship work. Now it is no secret that every relationship to be successful needs both the parties to adjust and accommodate. So if it isn’t right to expect women to do that all the time, then is it okay to expect men to do it all the time. Clearly not. The adjustment, the compromise has to be done by both. A relationship has to be a two-way street. And somewhere some of these girls are missing the point.

They want all privileges and rights but don’t want to recognize other people’s rights. They want to be treated like queens all the time, but the man cannot be the king ever. He has to be a subject. Is that fair?

They want equal pay, equal opportunity for themselves but if in that process the males get to be treated unequally they are okay with it. They want to get into a marriage with equal rights with no harassment, but it is okay if they harass and extort.

So, why do girls want special treatment in every situation? Why do they want the best of both the worlds as a matter of right? This attitude which screams out” I want to be treated equally, but I want to get married to a guy who earns well and can provide for me.” Isn’t this about having my cake and eating it too? Are we not promoting double standards here? This may be not a universal truth, but this kind of behaviour is becoming quite prevalent in our society.

My question here is if men have been brought up the wrong way, then what about the upbringing of these girls? Doesn’t that leave a lot to be desired? Why are we as a society swinging like two sides of a pendulum?

The answer to a perverted, derogatory way of thinking is not a dagger drawn approach !! Yes, there is a lot of pent up frustration, emotion but will taking it out like this lead to an answer?

As I understand, any form of control or subjugation by anyone, man or woman is unacceptable.  Both have to have respect and regard for each other.  In this context, I would like to quote the example of the movie Thappad which has caught everyone’s attention in today’s times. The movie brings out the need for respect in a relationship very aptly. The husband, an ambitious young man, is facing a trying situation at work. When things do not go his way, he slaps his wife in full public view as his frustration gets the better of him. Not only is the violent act despicable, but the fact that it is carried out against the wife and not his senior who is responsible for it makes it even worse. It just goes to show that in the husband’s head, the wife is his possession and so can be used to give a vent to his frustration no matter how. And of course, it is pretty evident that he has no respect for his wife or her emotions. It is this disrespect which causes the wife to walk out of the marriage. She cannot believe and accept the fact that her husband, someone for whom she had given up everything does not give her the respect he should. She has always supported him in every way, has tried to take care of every need of his and tried to make his life as comfortable as possible. So why then would he treat her like that? Or why would he have no respect for her? She cannot quite fathom that and cannot even accept it. And so she chooses to leave him. Her action is condemned and questioned by many people, including her mother. But many others like her father and eventually her mother-in-law applaud and support her. 

The point here, as I understand, is that if for a relationship to work, love is essential mutual respect is even more vital. Love may be enough to get two people together, but for them to continue being with each other, mutual respect is critical. So from that perspective, her decision was right. But again, there is something underlying this which is even more critical, which is that both need to have the love and respect for each other. If the man cannot take the woman for granted, the woman also cannot do that. And that is where we, as a society, seemed to be getting a little mixed up.

So all those situations where women are being harassed or exploited, there they can and should take recourse to law to deal with the situation.  They should raise their voices, fight tooth and nail to bring the perpetrators of injustice against them to task. But they cannot hold everyone to ransom under the guise of equality, law, and the protection it offers them. That’s being unreasonable and unfair.

Use the law; Don’t misuse it.

What do you think?

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  • Yadhav Mehra
    July 4, 2020

    Yet another balanced article. Well done Sangeeta! Am beginning to feel that your blog needs to be called ‘aboutthem’ since you have balanced in the area of gender neutrality and gender fairness.

    • Sangeeta Relan
      July 4, 2020


  • Kavita
    July 4, 2020

    Fantastic! It’s great and brave of you to have expressed this in black and white, Sangeeta!
    Society currently needs to see balance, it’s not about getting the better of, but about equality! And that doesn’t come by equal financial capability as much as by equality in status, equal respect. When men and women recognise, work towards and accept that; is when we would have achieved the goal of feminism. When they can walk alongside rather than one ahead of the other, then we would have achieved this goal. Roles can be different yet equal!
    Very well put out thoughts, as always, simple, straightforward and to the point!

    • Sangeeta Relan
      July 4, 2020

      Thank you my dear! While being all for women and their rights, I do think that we cannot overdo things and take the pendulum to the other side!

  • Sadhana Sharma
    July 5, 2020

    Nice Sangeeta. There are so many issues you have taken up here. To start with, Belief Systems of our society, Those are engrained. Then you took up the classic case of women putting other people before them (a la Thapad). Again things we do without using our conscious mind…

    If you write separate articles on all the important issues you may still run out of space 🥰.

    • Sangeeta Relan
      July 5, 2020

      Thank you 🥰🥰