We are a Different Generation of Women but…
‘Well you might think that it’s not a real social issue, or might want to know the scientific reason behind it, I do not have either of them. I do not have statistics to pin on; Neither social survey of opinion and idea. However, those who are reading it, especially women, will definitely not argue with me when I say, “There is a scarcity of great good men.” There is a dire lack of qualified men–as qualified as women.
In other words, currently, it has become a serious challenge for men to compete with women. Raising this issue invites two questions: first, are men and women equal in our social construct? Why do I want to think that women have become powerful enough to challenge men? Or what is the reason that men of our generation have not been able to progress in the way women have?
This generation of Nepali women have entered Yale and Oxford in the United States. They have become professors, doctors and nurses. Some of them have their own startup and business. We are no longer our mothers–yes, we are totally different from them who raised us sacrificing their career and freedom.
Most of the present women’s generation has raised quite differently than their mothers and grandmothers. While the generation preceding us considered themselves fortunate to get an opportunity to go to school, earn a degree, get a job, have a voice in their marriage, and so on. In contrast, for most of the current generation of women, most of these things are not “struggle”.
While women have been empowered a lot. At least, most of us think so. But in the course of empowering women, it seems that we have left men behind. We have left men behind us to think that the way we are moving ahead is something different than their (and obviously our) mothers, thereby abnormal. We have let them think and believe that we are more emancipated than their and our mothers. Have we?
The recent incident is a mind reckoning for me: In my facebook page, I found someone who shared the meme and videos of Amber and Johny Debb. The meme was followed by a deluge of aggressive comments that Amber should have shut her mouth and be like a woman, that she is a golddigger, that she insulted the great man whose fan is most of us, that she used Johnny Debb for enhancing her career and so on.
Some of the Nepali women even reacted through tik tok on how worse she is and that her response in her prosecutions was all staged. As a woman, the situation of abusive relationships like that of Johnny and Amber is not unique to us. We might have heard aggressive and humiliating remarks from our partner all the time. As a Nepali woman, more common is their early relationship–a man in his forty willing to marry a woman in her early 20s. We are grown up thinking and embracing that the age of man does not matter but women’s age is a BIG question for a lot of us.
This hippocratic norm is most of the time warranted by an evolutionary excuse—that a woman would lose her fertility sooner than man.This idea is again consumed with an assumption that a woman is basically designed for the repproductions. Having to be in this kind of society, do you really think that we are more emancipated than man in this period? We as educated women are living with our own choices than our mothers did? Of course not, we have not treated the wound yet, but are so excited just by taking some painkillers.
A Problem Without a Name
The real social issue is the problem without a name. In the decade of 1950s United States, the period in the west when women have already achieved the right to vote and were marching toward the right to equal wage, Betty Friedan, a feminist social activist, postulate the idea that women’s challange is to be a “feminine mystique”. While at that time, on the one hand, western females had already proved their competency with man, however, the secret desire of man to imagine women to be a real feminine had not ceased.
Women were still expected to be meek and sweet but as receptionist, bankers, secretary, office assistant, teachers and other various roles women stepped in. Feminine mystique is a sacred role of a woman to be what man desires women to be. For example, in the present context, educated men are afraid that women as educated as them are not feminine enough. They desire that women ought to be as qualified as them and as desirable as they want them to be. Women have always been what men want them to be.
Situating this western idea in Nepali context may be pulling the strings which really does not go with the beads. Yes, it does not. But we also have problems without names too. And an unnamable problem. But it is not a woman’s problem, there is a great problem with men. We have not yet been able to change the attitude of man yet. We have not let them become as qualified and empowered as us.
Let me talk about the some secret and intimate history of #MeToo in Nepal. It started in the theater, where a woman accused a renowned theater artist of harassment. I do not want to name the artist as most of you might have already guessed.
After the acquisition of harassment, the matter was left just like that given that legal rules in Nepal would require “hard” evidence to prove guilty. On top, there are no legal rules for workplace harassment. After some months, the accused came back to office, and a woman who accused him was later full of shame and embarrassment. She was also questioned if her story was “really” true. Or was she inviting?
As a result, man was never provided with an opportunity to think that it was his fault for not being able to treat women co-workers as equal as him. We, as women, never let them think that whatever they did was WRONG. Rather we gave plenty of opportunities for him to ponder that we are a different generation of women. That we have the power to speak up against harassment. That we resist. What are the consequences of it?
Women have power, energy and conscience to speak against men but of no real value. Yes, presently women would be let to feel that she was wayward and crazy to accuse a man so innocently to say “Sorry” after the incident. More so, she was foolish to do so.
It has a major result—we really did not let man to grow. As a consequence, we do not have grown up great guys.
Personal is always Political
Making personal politics–my friend recently came across a man who she was supposedly asked to talk with if we would like to think about marriage. Both of them were doing PhD and successful enough to claim themself that they would be among “chosen some”in the near future. Their conversation started in a pretty professional way, for example, career, plans and stuff.
At one point in their conversation, the man asked if she wanted to choose a mild career so that she would be able to give more time to family. She didn’t have the exact “yes” or “no” answer. She was confused as to choose her family on top of career or job given that she was not trained to do so. So like a bold and brave career oriented woman, she replied she may not because she had not expected that no matter what when it comes to marriage contract and obligation it would be women who would be placed in the guillotine first.
The man was pretty much amazed and replied that he had thought that she was from a “good family”. So when she decided to choose her aspiration over the cultural expectation, she would be defamed in quite a logical way. And the logic would be personal—how would she be able to choose anything over her family and her partner?
Would she not think that her partner's progress is her progress? This might sound very surprising from a man's point of view, and some of the male readers might say, “how could that have happened?”, “She might have twisted the story?.” But no, there is no twist in any of these plots.
As a feminist, given that misogyny is institutionalized, it is important to make personal political. Misogyny is institutionalized and refashioned in the modern world, making it more challenging for a woman to choose between her career and family, freedom of self and happiness of others, personal dreams and public demands, personal goals, and political contributions.
In the present neoliberal, post democratic, post-feminist world, where women do not have to, apparently, retreat to their “own places”, ‘feminine mystique” has accumulated greater aura; but unlike the time of Friedan, it has become institutionalized, registered, and refashioned in modern terms, like working women, progressive women, modern women, emancipated women. And these euphemisms given to the feminine mystique caterpillars —those women who had seen their mothers, sister, sister-in-law being cute “feminine mystique” but do not want to be so —have been taxed more than their predecessors.
When the overtly badgered slogan that men and women are equal has become a common parlance in the personal life of women, most of them have realized that it will never be. When women have to give birth to children, when they have to breastfeed them, become a caregiver in a feminine term, and become “mother” basically, men's contributions are never equal to women. And these crude facts have never been realized.
Great Husband, Dad and Friend but not a Great Good Man
You may ask, “...but what about the great man that I am around? …my father, brother, husband, friends, and a son I am raising?”
Yes, we have great dads who would be overprotective to their daughters. We are ready to drop their girl child to school and college and can manage to pick them up in time. We have great dads who would pay their entire fortune to send their girl children to great schools.
We have great partners too. We have great partners who think that their future and career are attached to ours. We have great partners, who think that they really cannot move ahead without us. We have a partner who would support us in our every ups and downs. We have great male friends too.
We have great male friends, who are ready to curse and fight with men we had broken up with. We will go with us to every party and cinema hall and respect us in every corner seat.
But still we lack the great good man. Because we have unnamable problem and the unnamable problem are:
Thinking that it is logical to believe that all beautiful women co-workers are whore. No! Simply because women have always been defamed for their beauty and considered as proud for their intellect.
Thinking that it is logical to believe that women in college get promoted and praised because they are women. No, just because when it comes to professional work women are much more questioned on their qualifications just because they are women.
Thinking that it is logical to believe that a man can demand more from women because they earn more. But No! Men were never obliged to say “no” to domestic labor. Doing free domestic labor is considered as free acumen for women.
Thinking that it is logical to believe that men and women have the same struggle. No! Simply because they do not have to contribute some ounces of blood every month to mother nature. They do not have to go to work with a belly big enough to prevent them from seeing the color of the floor they are walking on.
Further we lack great good men who would not pass judgemental comments to women whom they are not father to, or partner with, or friends with. We lack great good men who would respect women without any relationship. We lack great good men who would think good about women just like that.
So who is the great good man? Great good men are good ones who would think that women are good in themself –it is upto them how they would treat them. So you might question, why not start the other way around?
Women cannot change men,they have to start from themself. Women’s idea that men are their other half–in the form of father, son, brother, and friend has historically and universally ingrained in women through cultural norms–western and non-westerners.
Being in pariarcial social construct does not mean only to be in oppressions of some sorts, patriarchy is a natural social construct where a woman would think that only women’s world is impossible. However, men have not been taught to think in that manner. Is that a fault of the woman? Or is it a default attitude in man that anyone who couldn’t be their partner, daughter, mother, sisters and so on should be suspicious. Of course, I am rambling around. Being respectful of stanger woman requires a huge amount of courage, intellect and humility.
Rare are men–particularly, educated men– who would think that avoiding forcing women, speaking less bitcy about women, having lots of girls as friends, knowing that period is followed by terrible cramps, praising women for their biological capacity and so on—-does not only make them feminist. Also, feminism is more than standing up for their sisters and mothers rights. It is more than posting facebook profile framing on the issue of justice.
Being a great good man is to stop viewing, perceiving, analyzing and evaluating the world from the perspective of womb-less bodies. When the bodies think by displacing womb or mother nature from themselves, it has detrimental effects on the bodies who are endowed by nature, culture, society, and social institutions, biopolitics, to bear the fundamental responsibilities that accompany roles of having children and raising them. And most women are considered womb bodies.
Again, “womb” here does not underline the embodied representation of women. In other words, it does not necessarily refer to child bearing potential or desire of women, instead it entails differences of not being inherently womb bodies—or according to Caroline Criado Perez penalizing the difference of not being default male.
Being the default male means privilege enough to think and argue that the sky is blue because they say it. But being in women’s shoes means, starting to believe that we can name the color of sky as blue because the word blue is invented by some powerful shitty person who is privileged enough in naming “blue” as “THE BLUE”