On Gender Equality and being trolled

GEnder Equality

So it finally happened.

 

Truth be told, I’ve been expecting this for a while so I cannot say that I am entirely shocked or surprised. After all, this is what social media has been largely reduced to. A place for anonymous and faceless trolls to align themselves with an agenda and not engage in healthy discussion, but just try to beat others into submission.

 

It wasn’t the social media that most of us signed up for, but hey, this is what it has become. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion; but that’s what it is – YOUR opinion; so say it, but don’t beat others over the head with it.

 

Anyway, on to the subject matter. Today, amongst other things, I was called an armchair activist for gender equality and told that I’m someone who won’t walk the walk. To the people (yes, more than one!), apparently, I am like the thousands of others who just sit and harp on about gender equality and do nothing about it in reality to break stereotypes. Of course, not to mention the other messages which went along the lines of:

 

You’re a SAHD because you’re sad (Yes, great work with the pun! )

You’re just an attention whore who does nothing to empower anyone. You have a rich wife, so it’s nice to sit at home.  

And of course, the very stereotypical, You are not being of any use to society. By nature women are the primary caregivers and it’s not a man’s place to change equations.

 

Of course, some of the others I can’t really put up, because hey, family audience 😛. And I did try to amuse them by pointing them to my blog and the various write-ups, but they were obviously having none of it.

 

Now, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation about what I do and why I do what I do, but this is important for me to get it off my chest.

 

I am a strong believer of gender equality and do whatever I can to help reach or get closer to that point. So, while I may be an armchair activist for many other things, I think over the past few years I’ve tried to do whatever little I can to help support the cause.  I did not become a SAHD so that I could sit at home and watch TV all day, or just enjoy while my wife went to work. It came on the basis of a lot of discussion and practical considerations where it made perfect sense for my wife to go back to work and for me to be around for a few years so that our son had someone around.

 

Yes, it may not have been a pre-planned thing, but I refuse to let anyone, least of all some faceless trolls, belittle it by saying that I did it to seek attention.I did it because to us it did not matter who went to work and who stayed at home because of our gender. It mattered to have one parent at home, and I gladly took on that role. It has been a learning curve and I learn new things every day, just like my wife would have, had she been the stay at home parent.

 

 

I agree that I am perhaps generalising here but look closely. All around, perhaps right in your own home, you will find instances of situations that reek of gender inequality. For instance, I personally know women who have chosen to be homemakers. And that’s a valid choice – the idea being that they are free to choose their own path without external influences. Now take a look again. How many women do you know who have perhaps been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Perhaps quite a few. Now, I ask – how many men have been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Yes, you hear that awkward silence – that’s the truth. Why is that? It’s largely conditioning, don’t you think?

 

Similarly, I know career women who manage both their careers and things at home successfully. But here’s another question. Why do they have to? Again, at the risk of generalising, a lot of men still don’t. IT’s not that they are incapable of balancing their work and how they contribute around the house. They can if they choose to.  And this is where the conditioning factor comes in. Some people say it’s not expected of them. In fact, I’ve even heard a couple of men say that they (spouses) don’t want their help. Perhaps the issue is that they’re looking at it as help. It’s not helpit’s called doing your bit. You are partners and that means equal responsibility. Treat them as you’d want to be treated.

 

So yes, I will continue to work in whatever way I can to ensure there’s a world where women aren’t forced or made to feel guilty for wanting to choose to go back to work after being a mother and a work where fathers can take on the responsibility and primary caregiving without having his intentions and masculinity questioned.

 

So men here’s your new definition of man-up. Take responsibility and don’t shame or emotionally blackmail your wife or partner (or any one!)for going back to work if she chooses to or for apparently choosing her career over her kid. She has a life outside the kid and you – don’t be that douche who sticks to the mentality that women ARE or MUST BE the primary caregivers and that if they do go to work, they must after they make sure your lunch boxes are packed and kids are ready to go to school. You wouldn’t do it to yourself, would you? Why expect them to?

 

And women, if a man chooses to break the mould and be the primary caregiver, support them. Encourage them. Breaking stereotypes is difficult. I know. I’ve been through it.

 

Remember, we are all in this together. In this age, if you still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen or being a domestic goddess, or her only identity is that she’s the mother of the kids – then YOU are part of the problem, not the solution.

 

And enough with parenting being seen as primarily a mother’s territory. Yes, we’ve made some progress, but it’s not enough. Look around you. What we need is an attitude shift, and a willingness to accept the responsibility to be that change.

 

 

Comments

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  1. Sreesha

    I know in the past I’ve said don’t feed the trolls, but yes, this *had* to be written. Honestly, I wish we lived in a world where half the households had SAHDs and it wouldn’t be looked upon as something so odd. Of course both parents share equal responsibility, like, why is this even a debate! I, especially, am tired of this “the mother is the primary caregiver” BS.
    Anyway, trolls, faceless losers who need something to do. Don’t let them ruin your day. You be you! Hugs.

    PS: Did you change the header? Did I miss that?
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  2. Subroto

    “It’s not help it’s called doing your bit. You are partners and that means equal responsibility. Treat them as you’d want to be treated.”
    Now that makes perfect sense. Wish more men would get that.

    Ignore the trolls (unless you are Billy Goat Gruff walking on a bridge). I should posted my thoughts on this post earlier during the day but I was busy ironing the clothes and making dinner. In the past year I been fortunate to work two days a week from home so I any housework I do means extra free time on weekends. Currently I am between projects so at the moment I too am a stay at home dad (what is they say about “a dad’s work is never done”). It is unreasonable to expect your partner to shoulder all the household work, all other members need to do their own bit (yes kids I am looking at you too).
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  3. Bellybytes

    I completely agree with you about child rearing and stereotyping. Social media has only replaced the busybodies who like to mind everyone’s business. I admire you for doing what you believe in . Isn’t that a fundamental right ? Each one has the right to do what he/she thinks is best for them and no one has the right to judge them.

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  4. Nabanita Dhar

    So sorry you had to listen to these trolls. You don’t owe any explanation to anyone, Sid. The thing is for some people belittling other’s choices is a way of life. I have been called names by fellow women for leaving my child in the daycare. Apparently, I don’t want to see her grow up. Don’t pay heed to trolls. Social media has given license to such people to talk nonsense.
    I admire you, Sid, for what you do. Every man doesn’t have the balls to make the choice that you made. Yes, that’s true.
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      Sid

      Oh yes. I’m sure you’ve had your set of trolls too. Working moms get them quite often. Actually, Moms get them quite often too – and its bleddy 2017 ; we should not have to argue about stuff like these.

      We are going in reverse.

      Thanks for the support, Naba!
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  5. Damyanti

    I’d say shame on anyone who criticises you without taking the trouble to get to know you. Kudos on what you’re doing Sid– keep it up, and ignore the haters.

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  6. Shilpa Garg

    OMG!! That’s really sad, Sid. Sorry that you had to go through this mess. People on social media can get really nasty and personal. I wonder what motivates them to behave so abominably.
    You stay cool and do what works best for you and your family. Know that we are there with you! Hugs Sid!
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  7. Aparna

    What rubbish. Why on earth should anyone have a problem with your being an SAHD? And not content with being armchair trolls themselves, they think everyone else is only armchair! I appreciate your taking the time out to write this, but don’t let the trolls get you down. You don’t owe them anything!

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  8. Ashwini CN

    More than anything, I believe it’s your choice to do what you want to. Irrespective of whether people agree with your point of view, respecting an individual choice matters the most. So you cannot make these trolls see sense because their lack or respect for others shows how half-witted they are.

    If someone cannot argue with someone without crossing their limits, those trolls are just not worth your time. You have designed a wonderful life for yourself and don’t give them the satisfaction of getting to you.

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  9. Resh Susan

    Yes!! Great post. It is sad that even now a man doing any kind of housework is seen as a bad thing. When I got married, the husband used to do the wishes. Our relatives were our neighbours then and they could not imagine the guy doing it and would make fun alot. We never thought there was anything wrong in one person cooking and one person doing the dishes so that the work does done at twice the speed and we both can relax later.

    Sorry about the trolls. My mantra- ignore and carry on with life. You don’t need to waste your time explaining things to them when surely they would not understand. Also, half the trolls emerge from jealousy because they want to exchange their life for yours. They only imagine one aspect (as you say that msgs point towards you watching TV all day) of the day and ignore the actual hardships of the day. Some trolls deserve no response
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  10. Obsessivemom

    All I’ll say is trolls are just that – trolls. Their job is to be nasty and they do it well Sid. They do not understand what courage it takes to put yourself out there for scrutiny and comment – to share your thoughts, beliefs and feelings. That’s the tough part. Trashing someone from under the cloak of anonymity that social media offers is the easiest thing of all. You are one of the few people who has dared to do what you believe in, live the way that you thought was best for your family – that is all that matters.
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      Sid

      I will give them that, Tulika – they do it WELL !

      In fact, too well that it really starts to mess with your head.

      But then, after the dust settles, you realise that it was all not worth it; all that anger that you had is just fueling their hatred.

      Thanks for the support, Tulika.
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  11. MyBookJacket

    God yes! I know my uncles have been mocked for knowing how to cook. SO have my male cousins. But hey. They can make a killer gajar Halwa right at home and id take that over sitting on an armchair and whining that women go to work and calling that being manly. Lol.
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  12. Shailaja Vishwanath

    I am truly sorry you went through this. Nobody derserves it and definitely not you.

    First, none of these people know you, your choices and the life you lead. Clearly, they haven’t read your work either and are judging you based on a few tweets. So, ignore them.

    Second, you walk the talk. Not that you need me to tell you that but I saw you with R and J the other day and it was heartwarming. Nobody can understand what you do and how you do it, unless they’ve spent time getting to know you. Knowing everything else you are also battling on the health front, I know it’s very stressful, so kudos to you.

    V and I have a simple arrangement: Chores get done, parenting gets done, life goes on. Doesn’t matter who does it or when they do it. We have an agreement that works. That’s between us as a couple. I know the same is true for you and J. It’s really nobody else’s business to presume otherwise.

    I’m glad you got this out of your system and even if it doesn’t change the trolls’ opinions, it’s important that this is out there for people to read.
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  13. Shilpa Gupte

    Aww, Sid, that’s really bad and hurtful and I am so sorry that you of all the people have to go through this ugly thing! But, as everyone here has said, it’s none of anybody’s effing business what you do about your life. You and your partner have made the decisions that you have and so, anyone who doesn’t know you has no right to comment on it….that’s it! These guys need to be shown the mirror so they have a good look at themselves. They also need to be shown THE finger!
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  14. Parul Thakur

    Omg! You were trolled for being a SHAD? How sick! I would just say one thing, Sid – your’s was a personal decision. When G and you are okay with that, why should anyone else poke their nose? I am glad you wrote this cos with the shares, the message would go out loud there.
    btw – who are these people? I am sure misogynists.
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  15. Rachna

    Very sorry to read the terrible things you had to read and endure. Really, it is none of anyone’s business what you and your wife choose to do with your lives. I know that it is very tough for men to be the ones staying at home looking after kids. I recently shared an article on FB which talked about how men don’t support other men when they make choices that are not seen as ‘masculine’. A lot of women do support men who partner responsibilities at home because we know how hard it is for us to balance household chores, parenting and professional work. But the society, that wants its men to the breadwinners. This is changing, albeit very slowly, hence I can imagine the stonewalling you may face. Also, I’ve seen how marriages are challenged when the wives earn more or go out and earn while the husbands stay at home. Sometimes, the wives themselves feel uncomfortable with that scenario. Isn’t it sad that it has to be that way. That while a woman choosing not to work is now applauded when she does it for the family but not a man doing the same. We have such a long way to go before we become a fair society. Kudos to you for breaking stereotypes. And to your wife for being your biggest supporter. I know it hurts when people say mean things but then they don’t matter to you. Take strength in the support you have.
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      Sid

      Love the long comment that makes total sense, Rachna. And what you’ve said is so true – we (and by we, I mean society here) have this insatiable need to not just meddle but also tell others what to do.

      Oh well! Someday it will all change. Or I live in that hope.
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  16. Gobblefunkist

    I heard a supportive, but apparently contrasting view from an aunt sometime ago. She said, our society is so sexist, can you imagine the enormous pressure we put on our boys by instilling in them the belief that they must be the primary providers all their lives? This somehow hit me between my eyes. While I can choose to not-work and get away with it because I am a woman, and mom to boot, if my husband decides to not work for whatever reason, it becomes a matter of immense concern, not only to the family but everyone out there.

    That aside, I don’t think you need to justify to anyone – troll or not – why you do what you do. It is your life. Period.
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      Sid

      I don’t think it’s the justifying that gets to me, but the fact that we are still having to discuss this.

      And to be honest, I think the aunt has got a bit of a point. Of course, it isn’t the same pressure as women who try to break free from the norms – they have got it a little more harder, I’d say.
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  17. Shantala

    Oh my dear God! The audacity! I mean how is this any of their any of their business? What you choose to do with your life is up to you. And you are not answerable to anyone, least of all them. They really need to get a life of their own! And while they are at it, they must also learn a concept called boundaries. Sigh.
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  18. Shalini

    I’m sorry this happened to you, Sid. But I am glad you chose to let it off your chest. Don’t let it bother you. These are, after all, faceless douchebags who think they can say anything to anyone. You are someone who stands by what you believe is right and we admire that in you. It is not easy to choose what you chose to be, and as you said, you needn’t give a damn explanation to anyone. Three cheers to you!
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  19. Modern Gypsy

    Like I said before, if you’re an armchair activist, we need more of you. These trolls obviously don’t know you or your story. Plus, you don’t need to justify your views to anyone. People are so scared of breaking stereotypes and rocking the boat, that when people stand up and raise a voice, they try to bully them into submission. Instead of being a space to discuss, debate, respect other people’s opinions, Twitter is fast becoming a hot-bed for trolls. It’s really sad…having been at the receiving end quite a few times for my views, I’ve finally learnt how to just ignore the trolls. But still, sometimes the vitriol just gets to you! Anyway, maybe I need to write a post of my own, instead of leaving a microblog in the comments. 😉
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  20. Subha Rajagopal

    Surprised that there are people trolling you for such silly reasons.I am happy to note that you are steering clear of all that shit.Do continue your good work Sid.It is not easy to be a SAHD.

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  21. Suchitra

    Touche, Sid. I applaud you for taking on the trolls. The issues you mention however, are so ingrained in some of our “values” that it may take a generation or two to become more mainstream (read: accepted) at least in certain corners of our land. You and are your wife did what any couple would (should) do under the circumstances, after considering everything…this is your life and your choices. Your lives…trolls on the other hand, need one of their own.

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  22. Divyakshi Gupta

    Shame on the trolls. BIG Shame.
    1. They don’t know you enough
    2. Freedom of speech gives douchebags to say anything they wish.
    3. It’s easier to go with the flow than against the current. ONLY A dead thing goes with the flow.
    4. Ignore all these utterly useless people and do your own thing and being awesome!
    5. There are people who look upto you. ( like really really) ( me in the list).
    They are mighty proud of you and know what you are doing and what a fabulous example you are to all the “men” out there.
    6. You are one of the very very few people I have met who are sensitive to women issues. That kind is rare.

    P.s I want to know who it is / they are.

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