Feminism with its many shades has empowered women and left the men gobsmacked
When a man falls for a woman, there is a list of things he knows he’ll have to do. From winning her parents’ approval to having enough money in the bank, this list is deeply entrenched in our society; heterosexual men are almost born with the knowledge. It’s that whole ‘man is the provider’ idea embedded in the human psyche and passed on from one generation to another for aeons. But when that woman says she’s a
feminist and won’t settle for anything less than absolute equality in the relationship, the man has no idea what to do and things take a topsy-turvy, somewhat messy turn.
Let me introduce you to the newest dating conundrum for millennials and Gen-Z— feminism with a side of anti-patriarchy. The women of today won’t settle for anything less than equality and the men are massively struggling to deal with it. You know something’s hit a nerve when even the fashion crowd is talking about it.
Dating in the age of feminism led to a heated discussion at yet another fashion week recently concluded in Delhi, when designer Bhairav Gupta (name changed) brought up the issue. “I don’t think straight men really understand an equal relationship; for them, it’s always about a man having the upper hand because that’s what they’ve grown up seeing all around them!” Stirring the pot further was model-of-the-moment
Bhavna Mehra’s (name changed) revelation about the demise of her most recent relationship. “I had to dump him because he just couldn’t accept that my career was just as important as his and I couldn’t be bothered about dropping everything in a heartbeat just to be by his side.”
Women aren’t trying to make it work with a man who isn’t treating them as equal. They’re dumping him and moving on, all in an instant. And men, who never got the memo, are wondering when and how things changed.
“You know things have gone a bit too far when people start ending their relationships because of it.” When you want to know what the average young man in India is thinking, you must always go to Samar Pirzada (name changed), one of Mumbai’s most dynamic young entrepreneurs and the man behind a popular chain of restaurants in the city. “Yes, men and women are equal but every relationship is different. And sometimes, a man just has to lead from the front, you know?” Leading from the front doesn’t, and ideally shouldn’t, come in the way of an equal partnership though, does it? “If a man lets the woman be, he isn’t that into her. When he checks up on her, he’s being controlling. What is a man to do?”
It’s a confusing scenario, yes. Both for men and women. Where does feminism stand on, say, chivalry? “A man opening the door for his woman is romantic and adorable. But as a woman, who identifies as a feminist, am I to expect or want such a gesture? Honestly, I don’t know!” Stylist
and society queen Sheetal Singhania (name changed) isn’t the only woman flummoxed about the ever-evolving man-woman equation. There are many like her who are on the fence when it comes to feminism and men. “I don’t want my man to pay my bills or treat my career as a hobby but I also don’t want him to not buy me a nice gift on our anniversary or expect me to run the home, you know?”
It isn’t just about who picks up the tab. As more and more women insist on gender parity and women’s empowerment, it’s changing the way men even approach a woman. “I don’t even know the correct way to make a move on a girl. Will she be offended or flattered? Uncomfortable or
indifferent?” Rohan Nanda (name changed), one of Bengaluru’s prominent advertising executives, is echoing the thoughts of a large number of people belonging to the not-fairer sex. “I can’t help but wonder whether feminism, which I’m all for, by the way, has majorly emasculated men!”
Emasculated might be a tad extreme but men are definitely feeling the pressure. They can’t just walk up to a woman at a bar and strike up a conversation, as was the case in days bygone. They can’t expect their wife to give up her career after having a child. Paying the bill in full post a date isn’t romantic or acceptable anymore. They can’t ask their girlfriends to not stay out late, even if it’s anxiety for their safety. They have to cook food, do their laundry and run the home.
It’s amusing to see men struggling with their place in society, for a change. We don’t know if they’ll transform into feminists or come to hate it with a vengeance but for now, they’re learning to adapt to a whole new world.
My advice to womankind would be to exercise patience and let them figure it out—after all, men are infamous for not asking for directions!
Who Am I?
Think of me as someone who knows the minds, hearts and bedrooms of the young Indian today. I have a social life across cities that allows me access to coveted parties, people and positions (pun absolutely intended!). Through this column, I aim to keep you abreast of how the young people of India go about their personal lives. I promise to keep it honest and to-the-point. No judgements, no prudishness.