"An apple is not equal to an orange". Isn’t it silly to find out the value of an apple in terms of an orange? Where do our wits go when we use idioms like "White is the new black"? Granted, black is everyone's or at least most people's favorite but why can't white create its own mark and thus, has to live with the identity of "a thing that replaced another thing"? All through our lives what we have been taught and what we have done is "comparison".
These days women are making headlines with their remarkable achievements in different spheres like Priyanka Chopra being decorated with the coveted Padma Shree award or Hillary Clinton being a front runner in the much awaited 2016 US Presidential Election. What's clearly distinguishable from all these bold letters adorning the front pages of leading media publications is that we have been successful in the movement for women's emancipation and empowerment. But what should concern us now is a frequent tendency to compare these newly explored potentials of women with the age-old gender stereotypes.
Gender is the crude way how the society perceives a person to be a man or a woman. For instance, women are generally considered feeble and unable to labor for long hours whereas men are thought of to be muscular with the strength of a wrestler. Any deviation from the conventional functions is looked upon with scorn and is awarded with contemptuous comments. A female wrestler is, thus, uncommon and even if one comes across her, 'she' is tagged as having the strength of a 'man'. It's like we don’t know how to appreciate one's achievements because we are busy comparing her attributes to that of her male counterparts. The same goes for a man who cooks or looks after the household. He's a tagged as 'henpecked', 'effeminate', or 'house-husband'. Is assisting your wife with domestic chores or helping your children with their homework so condemnable a sin that you lose your masculinity and respect?
Long back, Rani Laxmi Bai, the iconic Indian WOMAN freedom fighter, was referred to as the "only MAN in the army". So, have we "changed" since then?
For example, a girl with a cool attitude often takes pride in being called a 'tomboy' or a 'half-boy'. Well, can't girls be cool? Is 'cool' a word to be used for boys 'exclusively'? In that case, I'm not aware of a dictionary that substantiates such vague claims.
This society which thinks that a girl being called a "half-boy" is matter of pride, is the same society which looks derisively at a boy with even minimal attributes of a girl and labels him as undesirable. I ask, if they are not proud being "US" then why should we be proud being "THEM" (even though "half")??
In some cases, a male child is so important that in order to prove that we are proud to have a daughter we need to proclaim that they are better than sons. We often mark parents saying "a daughter is not a tension, rather she is equivalent to ten sons". I strongly oppose such statements. I definitely agree that a daughter is not a tension but she is definitely NOT equal to ten sons. And why should she be??? She doesn’t have to be like her 10 brothers, when she can be her own strong and smart self.
Gender is NOT a lemon and spoon race that we have to note who's better than whom. In the forgotten days, society used the concept of "gender" to assign tasks to men and women and thus, some traits came to be associated with a particular gender. But we, the so-called modern people, victimize ourselves to stereotypes and at times, instigate such stereotypes when we somehow appreciate the maverick but by "qualifying" it to a particular gender label.
Why must men and women have "essential traits"? People's gender expressions are very diverse and are much more fluid and unpredictable than society’s constructed categories. Our identity is an amalgamation of numerous elements and not just our "gender". Our "identity", thus, should not be fixed as per our 'gender' and hence must not determine our "individuality". All of us have character traits that swim against the gender mainstream. 'How we act' and 'how we should act' are two totally different things in reality. Therefore we must not chain ourselves to the 'shoulds' of gender-based preconceptions and misconceptions and must let ourselves free to pursue our passion.