Sunday, April 15, 2007

Woman against Woman?

The India Today magazine dated 16 April 2007, has an article about the women of today. Smart, sassy, confident, ambitious, bold, what not. What interested me really was the section that asked the women the worst cliche they heard about being a woman. AIDS activist Anjali Gopalan says, she's heard "You're as good and strong as any man we've known" and "You're so powerful we forget you're a woman."


Men, seriously, what were you thinking! I know you have such a thinking set deep inside your minds. While I appreciate your honesty and frankness, it would help at the very least to be politically correct and not make such shocking statements.

Anyway, my point isn't about men and their stereotypes. I have a complaint. Its against my own fellow women. Many women, I believe still implicitly support these stereotypes. For example, I've been in a car when someone in a car ahead may have been driving rather foolishly. There is automatically an assumption throughout my car that the driver of the vehicle ahead is a woman. Fortunately or unfortunately, more often than not, the person turns out to be a man. Which pleases me no end. But thats just my weakness. Its happened so often, that I now automatically assume its a man. I'm now guilty of gender bias too, only I'm biased against men. I strive to get to the point where
i. I will drive flawlessly.
ii. There will be no bad driver ahead of me.
iii. If there is, I will not ascribe a gender to the person, and not picture a foolish person of that gender at the steering wheel of the vehicle ahead

Anyway, back to my point of women supporting stereotypes (I acknowledge another weakness here of digressing too often from my main point, but I hope that's pardonable if the other point is more interesting.) Second example, heard from many women: "He acts like such a woman." Utopian scenario, I'd like to assume you were complimenting him. But back here in the real world, I know you aren't. In fact, its an insult. Why? While on the one hand, you are all for women, why women are the better sex, on the other hand, a man being like a woman is a derogatory accusation.

Another way of looking at it: you actively defend yourself when men say women gossip a lot, but when a man gossips, you say he's acting like a woman. Double standards? Are we women just confused? Are we victims of the stereotypes passed down over the generations, just as the men are? Are we acknowledging then the truth that we are like that? [Why do I get the feeling that this last option will be a favourite of all men reading this post :)]

I'm not trying to make a point here about who is superior and who isn't, who is capable, who isn't. Because at the end of the day, I don't believe we are equal, we're all differently wired, although we each have our strengths and weaknesses, and we have different ways of manifesting our abilities. I only want the women to stand by themselves and get rid of their own prejudices first. Me included. :)


sneha_april said...

you could say women, more often than not, are prejudiced...i am not sure if it is only in india or elsewhere too. take a look at this

Rach said...

could be a culture specific thing. depends to some extent on environment in which one is brought up in, environment one has to later deal with, and things like that..

Suprita said...

A couple of reasons come to mind. I think it's mostly because a lot of people support a notion/idea/view without actually believing in it. They support it just because it has been widely established that it's the right thing to support. Goes for both men and women. Not everyone takes the time to pause and think. (like us ;) :D)

The Mad Hatter said...

What you've run into seems to be a mechanism of prejudice issue. As people wo do research into it help us understand prejudice better, it would seem that we need to do *more* than believe in something consciously to undo our prejudices that may contradict our beliefs. There may be two independent mechanisms at work here: conscious belief systems, which are rational to some extent, and prejudice, which isn't.