Gender Bender – A short story (Not Fiction)

“Woman, I can hardly express,
My mixed emotion at my thoughtlessness,
After all I’m forever in your debt,

And woman, I will try to express,
My inner feelings and thankfulness,
For showing me the meaning of success,
Ooh, well, well,
Ooh, well, well,

Woman, I know you understand
The little child inside the man,
Please remember my life is in your hands.. ”

The second last line explains it all doesn’t it? As John Lennon croons in his ode to his woman Yoko Ono in this song aptly named ‘Woman’, praising her for handling this little child in a man and his entire life depends on her.

For me, what it did was aptly describe the age old thinking of, ‘ he is after all a little child in the body of a man’. He is a man, can’t expect anything else. Well, he is a man, he eats more! Men are babies, what can we do? and on and on and on.

I am not about to bash men or say men are the bane in the society. All my life, it has been the men who have supported me more than women, be that my father, the significant men in my life, mostly they taught me, pushed me to be myself, just let me be.

On International Women’s day the usual Happy Women’s day wishes came by, fast and furious, praising ‘women kind’ both from men and women and I was tired,annoyed and fed up of all of it. Though well intented, all I wanted to do was to show the middle finger to them and I mean to all of them irrespective of gender.

Shake them up to the core to say, Hey you know? Cut the crap will ya? Let’s get talking each one of you. Let’s talk about so called progress.

Let’s talk about how being a feminist means ‘being a bitch’ because somehow you feel it means that we are saying we are superior, which we are not, let’s talk about those women who have taken Feminism to the extremes to the point that it has become a dirty word.

Let’s talk about those bosses, male bosses  or colleagues who use sexual innuendos, subtly creeping up when you smoke a cigarette or having a drink or being who you are, yet keeping their wives at home, conservative and shaking their heads saying my wife never drinks or smoke, or better still get into a girl’s pants saying you know my wife too has a beer so am broadminded with that look.

Now shall we get to the females ? Instead of supporting each other in an environment filled with challenges, your women bosses treat you worse, like a competition, all the insecurities and frustrations come out. If you are young and intelligent, there is a problem, if you are confident, then  god forbid, and if you are popular, you are done for!

Don’t believe it? I had my full on experience with a female boss when I was starting out in my career, making my life really miserable , hellish to spiking my drinks at a party so her friend could get his way with me. Yup does it shock you? Don’t be.

I have instances from a dear friend whose work life is a living hell because her female boss just keeps getting worse, her inadequacies thrown on her subordinates.. And these are just a few.

What am I getting at here? It’s not a rant, it’s just the way it is. We women , especially Indian women are caught between the confusion of the East and the West.

An education, a job, a career is all that came from the other side, yet our so called ‘values’ doesn’t let us speak our mind and I see that in my educated girlfriends. And let me be clear, most of them are not ‘independent’ as they think they are, not even close. The few that do break the barriers seem to fight a tiring battle day by day. It’s a challenge every single day believe me.

From the father who is ok being ‘broadminded’ when it comes to others, but will not accept ever the fact that his daughter can actually drink and wear what she wants to wear, the mother who constantly looks at her son for support and sympathy while it’s the daughter who is always there, silent and holding hands all the time. I have so many examples to quote that I will exhaust WordPress.

Where do we go from here? Is there any hope? Am I being a foolish idealist or should I finally become a realist?

One thing I have realized in my years of running a cafe with my partner, yes I attribute it to that. No matter how much I convinced myself I made a difference, I realized it didn’t make an iota of difference. Neither to the place, to the people I met or certain friends (male and female)over the years.

The need for change stuns people, irks them, they are comforted by the familiar no matter how painful it is. Anything new brings out their rigidity, resistance because you got so used to complaining about it that it’s become a pattern in your life, why the hell do you want to change?

So in the end, this is my message..

To the Men – Accept and love the women in your life, not just lip service. The wife who is working hard,lend her a helping hand, to that friend who just wants to be that, to the daughter – you changing will change her, give her confidence, let her not feel she is treading on thorns when she is doing anything different from what you feel is ‘good’ and bad’, don’t patronize us, we will make our own mistakes, allow us to do that AND can you accept that we are just like you?

To the Women – Get rid of your insecurities and stop seeing every woman as a competition, I know I know, life has given you hell, our culture, the society has made you feel that way, I don’t blame you for feeling that way, but can you now make that change? Can you finally start supporting and understanding the women in your life? Be that at work, at home or with friends? If you are a mother, can you stop comparing me with my siblings or friends or cousins? If you are a boss, can you truly understand there is your kind out there facing the same challenges as you? Being a friend, can you stop judging?

I sum it up with what the erudite Kamla Bhasin says, ‘ Feminism is not biological; It’s an Ideology’. And its NOW or NEVER.




4 thoughts on “Gender Bender – A short story (Not Fiction)

  1. Great Swapna, liked the writing very much especially the way you started John Lennon’s song. With respect to content, I don’t know if I have achieved in thoughts the right idea of equality but the blog contributed to move towards the right direction I believe. Cheers, may be we should stop men’s day, women’s day but have being human day or may be just environment day, just a thought:)


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