IHM has a very interesting tag on breaking gender stereotypes. It also made me think of the Blogadda contest on ‘What women want’.
About the contest first. I hope that it is meant to be parodic and taken humorously, because if not, the topic and the tagline “This question has perplexed people since generations” fall into the long tradition of casting women as mysterious and therefore irrational beings, prone to flights of fancy and changing their minds so poor befuddled (but logical and decisive men) cannot pin them down. Frankly, I find men much more mysterious and difficult to understand because most men I have come across rarely articulate their feelings clearly, even to themselves. Moreover, I think it’s ridiculous to speak for an entire gender, except from maybe a political/ideological point of view as Broom does.
Interestingly, the men who left comments on that introductory post sounded completely weird and patriarchal. Sample the very first comment:
if that woman is a mother then she wants that her child always be on top in that field where he/she stands now. if a woman is a sister then she wants his brother/sister shold always with her either in joy or in sorrow. if woman is a daughter then she want her mother and father live long. if a woman is a wife then she wants physical and spritual love from her husband. love from her in-laws and also want that they all love her and care her.
I checked out some of the entries written by women and they were much more diverse and individual – indicating that it is not possible to answer this question at a macro-level and to generalize what ALL women want.
Now on to IHM’s tag which is much more engaging. She asks of women:
Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’ ? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote!
As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?
There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?
She also asks similar questions of men. So I’m going to answer this for me, and (without his permission) for V.
I grew up in a very women-centered environment. My dad worked abroad for nine months of the year so I lived with my mom, sister, maternal grandmother and eventually dog (female). There were mostly little girls of my age in my building so we formed a fearsome bunch that was not too keen on inducting the younger boys that came along into our games. I went to a girls school and because I studied Arts in college, was surrounded by mostly girls there too, ending up with a gang of 12 girlfriends.
Nevertheless, I tended towards tom-boyish right upto my teens probably due to the influence of my sister. She was and is deeply into sports and so we avidly watched sports events and participated in sports. We prided ourselves on being fast runners and being taken seriously during games in our building (until I later proved myself useless at cricket). I prided myself on being fearless, hiding in dark places that even boys were afraid of, climbing parapets and not crying if I scraped my knee. My sister was great at Maths and went into science and then engineering; unfortunately, this is one manly trait I did not acquire (not the science and engineering career, but the ineptitude at maths).
Although my dad was not around all year, he was a big influence in our lives because he pushed us to be thinkers (introducing me to all sorts of ideas – from communism to Tom Clancy), athletes and strong and independent people. My dad wanted us to have great careers, he was actually disappointed when I decided to get married at what he considered too early (25!) and tried to bribe me out of it by offering to send me to England for a Master’s degree.
As an adult though, I began to embrace my feminine side, so I’ve ended up as something of a mix, which is how I think people should be anyway.
My ‘manly traits’*:
1. I enjoy watching sports, though I don’t play them anymore. I pick and choose what I watch though and am the least avid follower in my family. My sis, mom, grandmom and dad are far more sports-addicted than me. I watch the major events, and have always followed the football World Cup. In fact, V is at his wits end trying to please me by finding a proper streaming site on the laptop since the cable channel that bought the rights in HK is so inaccessible. Unfortunately pregnancy means I cannot keep my eyes open beyond 10 pm but I always watch the highlights the next morning.
2. I don’t cook. I tried, I’m not great at it and I have a husband who is. I used to feel the occasional guilty pang about it; not anymore.
3. I want my child to have my last name. Not as a hyphen (I don’t believe in hyphens). I mean, my surname as its official surname. Because I am carrying this child for nine months, I am puking, growing fat, watching my diet, forcing antibiotics down, being sleepy at work and taking a career hit for this child. My husband is cooking for me (like a fiend!) and being supportive but he can never know the reality of what I am going through. I believe this is more my child than his. However, this is probably not going to happen but I will still sulk about it.
4. I occasionally watch porn. I don’t have a problem with my husband watching porn as long as its not taking over his life. I don’t watch porn that is violent or that involves animals or children. Admittedly, porn is made with a male viewer in mind (according to me, there is too much action, not enough story) but I make do. I tend to focus on the women; I also tend to check out women (both for their clothes but also for their physical attractively) in the street as much as men – which probably makes me bisexual, not ‘manly’. (I am aware that porn is an exploitative industry. I don’t watch that much of it.)
5. When we’re on holiday, I’m always the one lugging around the haversack.
6. I suck at bargaining.
7. I did not particularly aspire to get married and have children. I did get married and am now on my way to having a child but it’s not something I think is essential to life and happiness. I do see having a dog as essential to (my) happiness though (and right now I don’t have one with me, although I still see my dog in India as my dog!). I was never particularly interested in babies and children. Weirdly, I tend to be like the Pied Piper, attracting midget-sized fans at parties and such. I attribute it to being mentally aged six myself.
8. Because I worked at financial magazine for some time, I do watch the business news and Bloomberg. I suck at investing though, maybe because I cannot pay attention to numbers.
My ‘womanly’ traits*
1. Like to dress up, have multiple pairs of bags and shoes
2. obsessed with fashion mags and fashion related TV shows
3. likes to watch romantic comedies, read chicklet
4. has practically no close boy friends
5. bad at math, bad at logical thinking
6. cannot drive well
7. enjoys a good gossip – can discuss maids but not babies
*By which I mean, traits stereotypically associated with men just as ‘womanly traits’ refers to traits stereotypically associated with women. I personally do not subscribe to any of these stereotypes considering I buck many of them myself. Thus, while I might be a bad driver and poor at maths, I don’t believe that this is typical of women in any way. I know many many excellent women drivers and a fair number of women who are good at math.
V’s ‘womanly’ traits
1. Enjoys cooking (but not necessarily keeping up with the demands of his pregnant wife)
2. likes to get facials and pedicures
3. Is not afraid to wear pink
4. Used to like to go shopping for clothes (sadly no more)
5. Does not specifically want a boy child
6. Makes a fuss to but actually gets quite involved in watching Project Runway.
7. Is an expert bargainer
V’s ‘manly’ traits
1. burps loudly and is proud of it
2. has taken to wearing the same two t-shirts in rotation for months on end
3. wants his child to have his last name
4. is into gadgets and handles the repairs at home
5. does the bank work
6. tends to play rough with me. Like tickling me, or shoving me. I have to repeatedly remind him that I am not one of his buddies.
7. Cannot talk about anything gossipy for more than 2 minutes, and anything serious for more than 5. All discussions have to be rounded up in 5 minutes or one gets asked ‘why are you going on about it’.
8. tends to be stoic
Would love it if everyone who reads this, does this tag. Shilpa was tagged by IHM and already has hers up here.
Update: Mincat has revived her blog by doing this tag! Hopefully it lasts, grrr!
One more: Dipali’s sins are up here and her sins as a mother here
And CW’s are here.
GB has done the tag too! I concur with points 3. and 5. on her list.
Also: There is a Facebook page up called “Sinners Against Gender Stereotypes” bringing all these posts together and more