I have already written a blog about “What equality means in feminism” to explain what exactly is equal rights when it comes to women. This blog is an extended version of it with more clarity and examples. Women who scream about equality in the urban parts of the country have no idea that the situation is worse in rural India. I belong to a small town and moved out of it when I was 21 years old because of a lack of education and opportunities, unreasonable expectations from women and more importantly the double standards I used to see. To tell you the truth, I realised the above reasons now, back then I just knew that this is not the place I wanna be at. I kept following my heart back then and it’s been 10 years I am living out of my family for my career. I keep visiting them for a week or 10 days max like a guest but due to pandemic, this time I am here for a little longer and this is the first time in 10 years I feel that I have become an urban girl who is aware of her rights and seen the world. I can see clearly what is going on around me and trust me, rural India is fucked up beyond your imagination. Close to 70% population lives in rural areas in India and India is a country that lives several centuries at once. I live in Mumbai but I have been raised in a small town of Madhya Pradesh where people are still living in the 1980s I guess. Let me start with the pros of living in a small town. You have farm fields not very far from the town, clean air, fresh fruits and vegetables, stars in the sky, windmills, little baby goats and cows running in the fields, blue sky every evening etc. Basically, everything you dream of in your countryside holiday home. People have warm hearts like no urban people have, If you come here for 10 days, you will be treated as your own parents probably didn’t treat you. If you wanna go deeper than 10 days, you will see the reality that extends till big cities, it reduces its intensity though but I wanna share where exactly it comes from.
Let’s not fake equality when it’s not real: After the 2nd lockdown I came back home for few months and it’s been only a week that I have started seeing the glimpse of the 1980s. My parents have kept a 10 years old girl maid. I have a huge house here and she cleans every bit of it and then goes to school afterwards. I asked my mother, why didn’t she keep anyone older to work? In her opinion, they don’t clean as we want. Child labour is a problem here I know. However, if you come to rural India, you need to arrest probably everyone. Anyways, the story I will tell you might piss you off more, as it does to me.
My nephew is 6 years old, we eat together every day. He sweetly says, “Bua (Brother’s sister) will feed me”. I love it when I feel needed, I feed him every day. I have a broken leg as of now so after finishing the food I have to wash my hands on the plate and my nephew keeps the plate in the kitchen sink every time. One day my brother was there when we finished the food and I asked my nephew to keep the plate in the sink like every time. My brother said, “He will drop the plate don’t let him do it”. So my brother got up and put the plate in the kitchen sink himself.
Firstly I felt hurt because it was our thing to do, that’s how my nephew and I bond, eating food together while watching a movie, then he puts Bua’s plate in the kitchen sink. However, what made me surprise the most was that you can let a 10-year-old girl take care of your entire house but can’t let your own son put even a plate in the sink.
I understand my nephew is the baby of our house, but why do people have sympathy, empathy and love for only their own child? Or is it that, a girl is supposed to handle everything even if she is 10 years old and a boy will grow up whenever he wants? Which one is it? I will leave you with this question here.
The difference between Urban and Rural India: People who keep their hearts on their tongues are less complicated. You will find more in quantity in rural India. People are simple here and speak with no filter. The problem is, that they will speak negativity also very quickly, without thinking about the impact they are making on the people around them. If I want to give my opinion on the above matter to my brother or parents, I will get the response straight which will summarise to, “Keep your wings under control.” In urban areas, people will swallow their words or think 50 times before speaking but might be thinking the same. Problems are there in urban areas, but if you wanna see the grassroots level of it, you can visit rural India. You will see where exactly it comes from, what do they think before making such decisions or taking any action, because people are raw and unfiltered here. They are almost unable to hide what they are feeling or thinking. Also, highly rigid in taking feedback, so better don’t try to change them. Maybe I am stereotyping rural people, what I meant to say is, that the beginning of change starts with acceptance and a low acceptance level can be found anywhere but more likely I have seen it in rural India. Hence, when it comes to equal rights and seeing men and women equally is a foreign concept in small cities and people here are even unaware of what exactly they are doing wrong. Keeping a little girl as a maid, marrying a girl child right after she turned 18, not considered for higher education and being financially dependent on others is a normal things in rural India. Urban women are lucky to have these cases in few and at least women have a voice there. In rural areas, women think that they have a voice but they don’t. They aren’t even connected to their own feelings. They are smiling and keep doing things that they are not even comfortable doing. I have seen my mother in pain and still handling the household rather than speaking up that she is in pain. Elder women don’t realise that by hiding their feelings in front of men, they are setting up unrealistic expectations for the younger generation.
I have a friend from Mumbai, he has a family scenario that is very similar to one of my best friends who belong to my small town. They both have useless abusive fathers. The difference is, in the case of my Mumbai friend, his grandparents have interfered and got his parents divorced. In the case of my small city friend, her grandparents kept telling her mother to keep working on the marriage like she is alone responsible for making or breaking it. It ended up causing her mother’s death. If any urban woman living life as I described above, then you are living in a rural India in spite of being a part of urban. Urban India is smarter and has low-intensity problems when it comes to equal rights for women.
Let’s talk urban perspective: I have been living in metro and semi metro cities for the last 10 years now. I also have questions and requests like every other urban girl. Please don’t ignore my words just because I am a woman. Why do male actors get to decide on the female lead in a movie? Why do only women get blamed for a ruined relationship? Could we please both handle home and work responsibilities together? I understand a baby needs the mother more but could you at least handle what you can? Etc.
When it comes to equal treatment, people are talking about equal money all the time. People are trying to divert the topic or maybe they are confused as to what equality exactly is, they keep asking women to pay bills equally, without considering that nothing is equal as of now. Some women are earning more than men but the numbers are still a minority. Anyways, to all my lovely ladies I would never recommend dating or marrying a man who wants to go 50-50 with you because to be very honest nothing is 50-50. When it comes to professional meetings, whoever initiated the meeting should pay, or the person with a higher position should pay. Otherwise, men and women are built differently on a physical level and whether you accept it or not, men have an advantage because of that. At some point, if a woman gives birth, the recovery takes a huge amount of time, at that point of time you need a man who doesn’t count money and doesn’t make you feel like a burden. Even though a woman doesn’t decide to give birth, you should not be tricked into the equal bill pay concept because the payout is still not equal for men and women in society. Also, the payout is a logical point, when it comes to feelings and treatment in a relationship or on a date, you should be choosing a man who is generous and kind and not the one who counts money all the time. Choose a man who has an optimistic mindset about money. Such men don’t count money because they know that they will never lack it. You deserve someone who makes you feel like a lady and not just another girl. You can cross the road by yourself but it feels nice when someone holds your hand while doing it, you can open your car door but it feels nice when someone else does it, you can pull your own chair in a restaurant but it is very gentle when a man does it for you. Basically what I am trying to say here is, that men and women are built differently and when it comes to relationships, equality is about equal love, consideration, kindness, generosity, warmth, respect and many other things but counting the money. Money is a concern when you don’t have it and a real men’s clan is very classy for counting money like this with a woman. Believe me, really powerful and generous men don’t care if you pay the bill or not, they just want to see you happy. Receiving from a man is an art and they will always be happy when you know the art of graciously receiving. All these generous and chivalrous activities keep your estrogen level high and stress levels low which makes you feel more feminine and that makes your man feel masculine and fall for you over and over again. That is why my ladies, don’t let anyone trick you into fake equality that only counts money. Don’t let them shame you with the words like demanding, high maintenance or whatsoever words until things are actually equal. Until then, let men pay the bill.