This blog is an excerpt from Ramen’s parenting book,“Effective Parenting: A New Paradigm”.
Leaders, politicians, feminists have been yelling from the roof tops, talking about women’s empowerment, but has anything really changed? Yes, I know women are reaching echelons in the corporate ladder they never ascended to earlier, they are regularly conquering male bastions, girls are thrashing the boys in academics and even the sacred portals of the IITs and IIMs are being stormed by the females of the species. But on ground zero status quo prevails. The girls continue to be treated like children of a lesser God in homes, in the streets, in offices, in the media and in our consciousness.
How can we change this reality?
I know you would say, ‘We should begin by teaching boys how to respect women.’ I would like to make an addendum. Why only boys, why not girls too? Aren’t many of the acts which disrespect women abetted by women – silently or otherwise, covertly or overtly? The mother-in-law who is involved in the torture of her daughter-in-law because she has not brought enough dowry; the sister-in-law who watches as venom is spewed on her ‘sibling’-in-law for begetting a daughter yet again; the mother who, while apportioning morsels at home, plays favourite; the grandma who sets different rules for her grandsons and granddaughters; the colleague who attributes the success of her female associate to slack virtues – the examples are many.
In my own family, I have seen this kind of a regressive attitude. My nieces are intelligent, well educated and articulate. They have been ‘persuaded’ by their mother to become ‘homemakers’ so that they can look after their families (meaning contribute to the growth of their husbands’ career and their children’s education) in a more effective manner.
Recently I came across a vernacular women’s monthly which declared rather proudly its USP: ‘We help in shaping women who will be useful in their father’s house as well as their husband’s’. The editor of this rather ‘progressive’ magazine is a woman!
Respect for women should be inculcated in little boys and little girls as early as possible. And this can best be done by the parents (both fathers and mothers) themselves setting an example. The way a dad behaves with the child’s mum, the way he treats her within the family and outside, the manner in which he speaks about other women all have a tremendous bearing on the attitude of the little one. Similarly, the way a woman handles herself, the kind of self-esteem she possesses and projects, the way she speaks about herself and other women impacts how her kids see her and the others of her gender.