Feminism is not the only way to achieve equality!

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Sabrina Almeida

Mississauga, March 11 (CINEWS): Thank you Ms. Kamya Ramaswamy for sharing ‘your views’ on the column I wrote last week—“Will feminism be responsible for the death of the family?”. It’s always gratifying to have a reader respond even if they do not agree with you. Read her comment “Blame traditionalism not feminism” here.
It appears that Ms. Ramaswamy was offended by my observations and view point. An opinion is not necessarily right or wrong. It is based on individual experiences and perceptions. That is where she and I seem to differ. More importantly anyone who doesn’t agree with an ideology or notion, has not necessarily gone over to the other side.
Ms. Ramaswamy has misunderstood much of what I wrote and I felt it was necessary to put it into proper perspective.
“Women don’t deserve to enjoy the same life as men!” At no point have I said that. It is what Ms. Ramaswamy read into it. I believe men and women ‘are’ equal. Those who don’t agree, are unlikely to be convinced by bra-burning or some women shunning marriage and commitment. Furthermore, if feminism gets a bad rap today, is that because of traditionalism, sexism or some of the poster women who are championing the cause? While we’re not looking to cajole or persuade, sending the wrong message doesn’t work either.
It is a matter of pride that women are more educated and successful in their careers than ever before. However Ms. Ramaswamy seems to think the men would just naturally become more domesticated as a result of it. Some kind of role swopping! Yet that is not to say that men, even South Asian men don’t step up to the plate. Of course there are exceptions and extremes. But am I wrong in thinking that educated and successful women make better choices when it comes to selecting a life partner? Moreover in a multi-cultural society, like our Canadian one, we have so many options. Are all men sexist? Is there no middle-ground?
It’s true that in many families, children and housekeeping are a woman’s portfolio. This is not just in South Asian homes, as Ms. Ramaswamy seems to think. And what’s wrong with that? I think roles and responsibilities should be assigned based on time and capabilities, not traditionalism, sexism or feminism. It’s not always that men won’t or can’t but rather that often women are better at it. I’ve come across plenty of instances where there are stay-at-home dads and fathers who care more for the kids than their mothers do. (Yes, in South Asian homes.) And it is for them that I would like to speak up.
Yes, men are running scared. Not only South Asian men, but men in general. It’s not just because they’re sexist or traditional. The men who Ms. Ramaswamy points out want wives like their doting South Asian mothers, will eventually find them thanks to their mommies. (And like her, I hope they will value and respect their partners.) The ones that I am referring to on the other hand, don’t want every situation to turn into a gender-based debate or a reflection of their ideologies.
As for how many teenage girls I’ve come across that know basic cooking, cleaning and laundry when compared to boys? Ms. Ramaswamy is not going to like my answer. I’m quite appalled at the many girls who don’t make more than coffee, are untidy and disorganized. They aren’t able to take care of themselves let alone anybody else. And yes, Ms. Ramaswamy you will be happy to know that both my boys (aged 16 and 20) can check off everything on your list. So pardon me if as a mother, I would like for them to have a life partner who can share responsibilities. Not a feminist who believes cooking, cleaning and child rearing are not “her job”.
The most important life principle that I have endeavoured to teach my sons is to respect every human being and especially women.
I was a stay-at-home mom for 11 years. It was a decision that my husband and I made together. I don’t regret it although my career may have suffered a setback because both my sons have matured into well-balanced and respectful young men. While they had a mother who did everything for them and their father during that time, they are always ready to help out and don’t believe in gender-based roles and responsibilities. In fact none of the young South Asian men I know subscribe to that kind of thinking. I guess their parents have managed to find that middle-ground!
Lastly, I’m not scolding girls for being successful women! But I’m disappointed that they believe they can’t have it all. For wasn’t that the point of feminism in the first place.
Nor am I suggesting that every woman has to want marriage and family.
But as I said in my column last week, choices must be made for the right reasons.

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