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.
My wife & I are both caregivers to our son, but in different ways because of the kind of people we are; Not because of gender.
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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 help – it’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.
Your gender may decide the ability to give birth, not if you should be a primary caregiver or not.
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