Blame traditionalism, not feminism

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By Kamya Ramaswamy

Mississauga, March 11 (CINEWS): Women don’t deserve to enjoy the same life as men. This is what Sabrina Almeida’s article printed in last week’s issue of The Can-India News should have been called, for a plethora of reasons.
Ms. Almeida correctly states within her first few paragraphs that women are getting married later nowadays, and opting to have fewer children or no children if and when they do get married. Many prefer committed relationships without the legal trappings of marriage. However, she then makes a very erroneous statement upon which her entire article is shakily built: “Feminists consider a woman’s traditional position in the family as disadvantageous and discriminatory.”
The number of open celebrity feminists are growing, with Lena Dunham, Emma Watson, and even the late Alan Rickman among their ranks. Dunham even publishes a feminist newsletter and has said that feminism still gets a bad rap today because of the misconceptions that uninformed people have.
Feminists simply want equality between the sexes—that’s all. They want their daughters to have every opportunity their sons have, and equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. People like Ms. Almeida are pinning the decline of the traditional family on feminism because it’s too easy a target. One of the most misleading things I have ever read is this paragraph she wrote last week:
“Aggressive or radical feminism has many men running scared. They don’t want complicated relationships either. Or, to have to conform to the new norms established by feminists rather than what feels natural to them. And it has nothing to do with sexism.”
Actually, it has everything to do with sexism. There are more educated girls and women today than there have ever been in the history of the world. However, women acquiring the skills of men and excelling in the workplace hasn’t resulted in men acquiring the skills of women and excelling at keeping the home or raising kids.
In too many homes, a woman’s duties inside the home haven’t changed despite her earning half the family’s income—she’s still unfairly expected to cook, clean, pack the kids’ lunches, do the laundry, iron the clothes, take out the garbage, do the grocery shopping, ferry the kids to their various appointments, and look gorgeous doing it all. I’m not saying no men do any of these things, but the unspoken law in many South Asian households is that the responsibility of the house running smoothly is on mom’s shoulders.
No wonder many women prefer to stay single! This thought should have occurred naturally to Ms. Almeida instead of feminism as the reason why women want to shirk a traditional lifestyle. Smart, educated women know that despite their evolution since their grandmothers’ time, many South Asian men (even those born and raised in the west) haven’t evolved since their grandfathers’ time.
And the sad reason for this is South Asian mothers who dote on and spoil their boys, thereby damaging them and preventing them from ever being an equal partner in a relationship with a smart, educated woman. The last thing any woman wants is to get married and automatically have a 30-year-old baby to take care of, but this is how many South Asian men are raised to think of their wife—a version of their mom they can sleep with.
So Ms. Almeida’s article is something of a straw man—a false solution to a false problem. Feminism isn’t the reason why many professional women are opting to stay single. They know the minute they get married, their responsibilities will quadruple and the benefits will be slim to none. They can financially provide for themselves (something they’ve historically had to rely on a man for), so men today have to offer something more than a paycheque.
Think about it—how many teenage girls do you know who can make a dish or two for themselves (something they have to turn on the stove for), do basic cleaning, and their own laundry? Now how many teenage boys do you know who can do the same? Ms. Almeida falsely targets feminism when she should be pointing out that the women available on the marriage market today are head-and-shoulders above their male counterparts, and they would (rightly) be alone and happy than married and unhappy.
In response to her quoted paragraph above, the men “running scared” who “don’t want complicated relationships,” is just a nice way to say some men can’t stand an equal balance of power and responsibilities with their wives. It’s a lot easier to blame feminism than to pick up mop or cook dinner twice a week, isn’t it?
A friend at my workplace got a hilarious picture book for her birthday called Porn for Women. In it is just pictures of good-looking men vacuuming or cooking a three-course meal or telling her, “Spend the weekend at the spa—I’ll look after the kids.” Offer any educated woman a man like that and she’ll be thrilled to get married. If the cons far outweigh the pros, of course she would rather remain single, feminist or not.
Lastly, Ms. Almeida’s final paragraph pondering human extinction because women don’t want to get married or have kids is simultaneously ridiculous and unfair. It’s ridiculous because the world population is bursting at over 7 billion—I think it’s safe to say we’re a-ways off from extinction.
It’s unfair because it puts the burden of child-rearing solely on women, as society has historically done. Feminism exists to fight these age-old guilt trips which punish women for succeeding. As a by-product, men (especially South Asian men) simply have to up their game and be open to an equal division of labour around the house. Trust me, the kind of men who have already done this are richly rewarded by their wives and kids.
Being fed, clothed, and sheltered isn’t enough for women today the way it was 50 years ago—they need and deserve an equal partner in life, and anything less is a liability. To Ms. Almeida and others who are so concerned about the future of the nuclear family, teach your sons the skills they’ll need to run a household in your absence, and don’t use schoolwork or busy schedules as an excuse. Preparing boys to be sought-after men will go a lot further than scolding girls for being successful women.

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Kamya Ramaswamy is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom of a son, who she hopes will grow into a sought-after man.

Read Sabrina’s Almeida’s response: Feminism is not the only way to achieve equality!

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