IHM tagged me on this subject.
I took my time doing this, because I had both a lot to say and nothing at all on the subject.
Growing up, I was force-fitted into the tomboy stereotype — primarily because I had the shortest hair in class. What I couldn’t get through to the stereotypers was that the style was not out of choice. My folks just found my hair too unwieldy. When I had a choice, I let it grow. But I was NOT a tomboy. I was just loud and crazy.
I grew up in a family of women. Mum, my athai, 3 sisters, Anjalai, a floating group of girl cousins and aunts. I studied in an all girls school and college. I grew up with 3 boy cousins next door, but I always preferred hanging out with the girls.
Most of my friends are women.
And frankly, when I read and hear of stereotypes, it doesn’t click for me (because when we talk about shattering stereotypes, we are creating another stereotype). There are girly-girls, and not so girly girls. In my house the sister who was least lazy helped out at home, and was also the most boisterous. She was both the ‘stereotype’ and the ‘sinner’.
I grew up with strong, independent women, even if they were not women with independent income (I add this because the assumption is that working women are more liberated. But I’ve seen workingwomen with less spine than a creepy-crawly).
So this list that I make is not to prove that I am a stereotype or that I am a sinner. Frankly, not because I am a damp squib but because I am confused.
Anyone who even has a remote/vague understanding of me will vouch for me being a sinner. Because, I fit a different set of stereotypes in their mind. The stereotype of a feminist or whatever ‘non-doormat’ monicker they wish to choose.
The list that makes up who I am.
1. I will absolutely not do something simply because a woman is supposed to do it. Like say, being the one who gives up a career to care for the child; being the one who makes tea for the guests; being the one who clears up after a party. But I will do all of that, because I WANT to at that moment.
2. I can sew fairly well (used to make a lot of my clothes while at college), can bake delicious cakes from scratch, hate doing the dishes and cleaning the house, love chopping vegetables, will make every excuse not to cook. Go figure — is that being a sinner or a stereotype?
3. I use my periods as an excuse to get away from stuff I don’t want to do. Visit relatives I don’t like? PMS! Go for a film I don’t want to watch? Cramps!
I have no problem asking for sex when I feel like it, and I will say no when I am not in the mood.What does that make me? Shameless, perhaps?
4. I am really good with a screwdriver (the tool, not the drink, silly. I prefer Vodka on the rocks), hammer, plier and drill. I am handy around the house. And I learnt thsse skills because my father was a tyrant who insisted we assist him around the house.
5. I can take apart a CPU, and put it all back together rather quick. My mental maths ability is pretty good. I have a way with technology, and understand computing quite well. Does that make me a sinner? Don’t think so — because my teachers for all this have been women. So you see, there is no stereotype in my mind.
6. And despite the above boast — I don’t like sci-fi books or movies. I look mushy love stories, and a bit of fantasy. I love reading glossies and celebrity gossip. I will go through a Filmfare or O Magazine with as much enthusiasm as I do an Outlook or Economist.
7. I love women-only facilities. I don’t care for equal rights. I like being treated special. I will use women-only billing counters, seats, queues. I want to be treated differently (and well) because I am a woman.
8. I don’t play any sports (unless Scrabble is considered a sport). But I can be a good spectator. Does that make me a female-stereotype? But how? Half the men I know don’t actively participate in sports either, or really suck at it and participate only to fit some stereotype.
9. As a child I loved my dolls, enjoyed playing house-house and even in my early teens collected stuffed toys. Yet, I am not considered a stereotype!
10. I get along quite well with men. But at the slightest hint of chauvinism I will take the mickey out of them. This is also interpreted (mainly by the guys) as taking offence too easily. Sinner?
11. I can cry at the drop of a hat. I cry to manipulate. I cry when I am angry. I rarely cry when I am upset. And it’s only occasionally that I can’t not control my tears. I think crying is as important and as healthy as laughing.
12. I am pro-choice when it comes to contraception or MTP. But I don’t think breastfeeding is a choice. It’s a must unless there is medical/valid reason not to. Am I an anti-feminist?
13. I love the whole experience of being a woman and procreation — the sex, the pregnancy, the delivery (yes, even that), the breastfeeding. Is this because women are supposed to want this? Is this how our brain is wired? Am I prey to a stereotype?
14. I am not scared of the dark or of being alone. I travel a LOT alone — both within India and abroad. I can defend myself quite well. But I will shit in my pants at the sight of a lizard. And I have no feel for adventure sports — no crazy roller coasters, bungee jumps etc. But if it involves water, I’ll try. Again, stereotype or sinner?
So my long-winded response to the tag is one of confusion.
And I tag everyone who reads this.
PS: And I don’t mind wearing blue pants, because that’s what I wear everyday — my blue jeans. Pink lungis are fine too, I think they’d make a cool sarong.
PPS: There is also a fb group now on SAGS.