Every week I take a concept or event so I can say good things about it. Even negative aspects can be helpful sometimes. Welcome to Appreciating.
In this week’s #MicroblogMondays, I talked about how I got a haircut at the start of the year and it felt very empowering for some reason. I theorized that the reason is going against an ingrained set of rules is empowering because it is very freeing. I’ll flesh out that idea below.
I’m able to appreciate a bit more when women say it’s empowering to wear a certain style of clothing. It’s a feeling of freedom from being told all your life that if you cut your hair a certain way, or if you get tattoos, or if you don’t have a decidedly singular passion, then you fail at life. Empowerment, to me, is freedom from the fear of failure.
As we go through life, growing and learning, we automatically make choices that turn into preferences and habits. If you’ve always eaten your toast with crusts cut off, chances are as an adult, you won’t be able to adjust to bread with crusts on.
Habit has its base in simplification. We set in our ways because the ways become comfortable and predictable. Unfortunately, this also leads to stagnation and rigidity.
The problem arises in two situations: A. when the rigidity prevents personal growth and B. when the rigidity is in a situation that is no longer acceptable by present standards.
When Habit Prevents Personal Growth
This is what I alluded to in Monday’s post. There’s such a huge world out there with so many different cultures; I find it laughable that my community places the restrictions it does on its people, or the motivations we have as a population. We are so image conscious within ourselves that we blindly ape each other until all of us are following the same trend. Whether it be something as small as a haircut or an artistic hobby or something big like a service or self-employment career, or even multiple careers, the community cringes at this sort of thinking and deems it ‘failure’.
The trend for several years had been – “Top-tier school (admission via donation/bribery if necessary), B.Com degree, MBA or CA, dad’s business, marriage, two kids, hoarding money to blow on your kids’ weddings”. Thinking for yourself is a novelty. I see this culturally bankrupt, materialistic community and I feel like a backwater redneck with a mullet.
Thankfully, there has been a change in the last few years, and it is slowly progressing, which is why I’ve been lucky to be able to experience the things I have, and why I can write this post with a positive sense of egotistical superiority laced with underlying shame. However, as yet, the majority of the people in the community still follow the formula.
When Habit is Not Acceptable by Present-Day Standards
e.g. now, not all women are uneducated homemakers. They aspire to business and jobs and money making. It is no longer acceptable to hold a woman down and force her into home management, and pushing out babies ASAP (which is good, we’ve made progress).
This progress has come about due to the feminist movement advocating woman empowerment and equality. They still have their work cut out because true equality doesn’t come about without a radical shift in thinking.
A lot of people are unable to accurately comprehend the women empowerment issue. Last year, towards the end of March, a video went viral in which actress Deepika Padukone advocated choice as a right.
As we are wont to do for things we don’t understand, we the people made fun of it, made memes, wrote horrible things on the internet and threatened murder and rape like the shitty people we are. We gloated at our benign arguments about how sex and smoking and drinking are not tools for empowering women, completely missing the point of the video.
The aim of the feminist movement of woman empowerment is not hard to understand. The aim is to bring about a change in thinking, and make people understand that women can make choices for themselves, just like men do.
It is not about smoking and drinking and promiscuity (loose sexual behaviour, what we call “characterless”) being good things or bad. It is that if a man can choose to do these things even if they’re bad for him, then a woman should be able to do that too. She should be able to make a choice about doing something, whether it be good or bad for her – whether that something is smoking, or starting a business, or anything else.
Granted the video comes off as selfish, but it is not if you think about it. It’s about a woman being able to choose to be career-oriented and outgoing, or homely, or whatever she wants. The video fails to mention that empowered women are also willing to deal with the consequences of their choices, and really, that is all you can ask for from anybody.
There is another movement under the feminist agenda, and that is to empower men. The issues that men face are in a different context to what women face, even if they’re similar. Males need to be empowered, ironically, by removing the thought that all men need to be strong, macho, go-getters with the thickest of skins. Men can be empowered by making people understand that it is okay for men to cry when distressed, for men to talk about depression and domestic violence and sexual assault. Again, empowerment is about choice. It is telling men that it is okay to choose to talk about the issue if they want, and it is okay to choose not to.
I’m finishing this up at 5 AM, and am not completely in my senses. Is there anything in here that you disagree with? Tell me in the comments below.
Also check out the accompanying #MicroblogMondays and #TalkbackTuesday posts. Thank you for reading!