Hidden Sexist Messages

Yesterday my younger son and I were sitting in a swanky outlet having coffee when a young woman wearing a skimpy outfit which showcased her gorgeous legs sashayed past us. Given the recent headlines, I really wanted to know how he reacted.

 

He stopped mid-sentence, his eyes followed her, but then he resumed our conversation.

He did not think about raping her.  He did not think she was “asking for it.”

Sure he admired her, but that was it.

That is how normal young men behave.

A long time ago, when my younger son was still in school we went to see an immensely forgettable movie called Drona.

Why do I remember it?

Because of the conversation between both my sons, when we walked out of the movie hall

Kid#1 : This movie should have been called Rona instead of Drona.  Abhishek keeps feeling sorry for himself.

Kid#2 : (in tones of deep distaste) Abhishek was playing the role of Priyanka’s wife!

(Note to self : Lady you have given birth to a chauvinist pig, kick yourself)

Am I sexist?

I think not. I ensured that my sons know how to cook, dust the house and even wash dishes. I also kicked them in the butt if I felt they did not respect their women friends.

But somehow they imbibe certain attitudes from the society at large.

That is where parents step in. There are hidden chauvinistic messages at large. My uncle (aged 80+) was sitting next to me and he wanted something checked out on the net. I offered to do so, but he insisted I call his son, who was in Bangkok and confirm.

Why?

Because I lack the requisite Y chromosome.

I think we should stop treating male kids like they are little princes. We need to kick them in the butt, get them to do chores around the house and every now and then, bring them down a peg or two.

And tell them that women are people too, and they need to be respected.

We have to do our little bit to avoid sexism that is rampant in our society.

Ritu Lalit is the author of two novels, A Bowlful of Butterflies published by Rupa & Co., and Hilawi published by Popular Prakashan.  She is a single parent and blogs at www.phoenixritu.com

  • Awesome Ritu…such a bang on post !!!
    I always admire your grit and courage to do things differently and also for the way you bring up your sons as totally independent individuals even for their basic need such as food.
    Yes, there are people out there, who just cannot accept the fact that a woman knows more on how to use a computer or the net…and I say this with such sadness since such a thing recently happened to me too !!! They cant take instructions from me on how to download a file from the mail I sent !!! He went to his EDP dept to get it done…che…we live among such relatives !!!

    • Yes we do UmaS. There was a time it irritated me and now it only makes me laugh. I have accepted that I can’t change the world, I just make sure that the people around me are on the same page as me

  • Amrita Thavrani

    Bang on !! Ironically, when we say treat women nicely, all we ask is the due respect, nothing more.

    • That is all we need, respect, freedom to live our lives and – given the current scenario, safety

  • I agree!
    “But somehow they imbibe certain attitudes from the society at large.”
    This is so true. And with well planned ‘kicks’ you can avert the disaster.

    • Sadly we can only apply the kicks to the men in our lives.

  • We need to actively manage and propagate the cultural shift… it won’t happen overnight but with enough push it will happen, and it has to be for both the genders…

    • I am totally with you. Men have their own pressures and they have it hard. They have to be strong, be the primary earning member and responsible for the women in their lives. Its a tough act

  • Yes, we as parents have the responsibility to raise our kids to respect every one, irrespective of gender. We must set examples by doing that ourselves, otherwise it’s just a farce and we raise hypocrites….

  • Roshni

    Absolutely! I constantly correct my boys (and they’re just in elementary school) about their assumptions about women and girls! For instance, all girls like pink and purple and play with dolls…um, no!! Each girl is different and I’m sure there are many who can kick your ass at Super Mario brothers!! 😉

    • Oh I’ve done that, pointed out that their little girlfriends could excel at boyish stuff. It is such fun to pull the rug from under their feet. And believe me there are girls who can 😉 And the boys hate it!

  • On the dot when u say ‘lack of Y chromosome’. There are times when a ‘Y chromosome’ had to validate to others what I had said… The same Y chromosomes who do not even know how to pack their own bags or cook themselves a decent meal!!
    I commend your efforts in making ur sons capable of taking care of themselves and respecting women..

    • It is so irritating, this assumption that women are dumb bimbettes. Of course I use this assumption to my advantage when I have to change a punctured tyre. Someone always comes to help me …. they think I can not screw a nut properly.

      I let them 😛

  • Fab

    Superb post!!! Especially the ‘don’t treat them like princes’ part. Recipe for mothers in law who can’t let go. I think some of these mothers do it on purpose. They probably don’t have a very fulfilling relationship with their husbands, so they mollycoddle their sons, ensuring that they’re momma’s boys forever, dependent on their mothers for the slightest thing. I know a home where a little boy was shocked to know that women drive!! Though society does have a huge influence, we cannot underestimate the lessons they learn from us in their tender years. Again, wonderful post!

    • Sigh, so true. I don’t want to mollycoddle my sons. It is so tiring. I will not wait on them hand and foot. I expect them to wait on me! They’re grown ups and they can make me a dinner or give me a cup of tea! While at it, they can do the same for my daughter in law too! In fact we have a schedule at my home where everyone has chores and they better do it, men and women

  • Jyothi

    I totally agree. The parenting techniques have to change with time. 🙂

  • Ram

    I love this post. A real good one at it. And normally I don’t comment. I am commenting because the headline is clear 🙂
    All the comments I see here are from females except Desi Traveler 🙁
    Anyway, I always believe that women are stronger than men. It is the male dominated society that have been reinforcing that women are weak and taking advantage of it. Its really high time for change and accept the reality.
    Also, as you rightly mentioned about your kids watching a lady passing by at the restaurant, that is perfect. Adoring nature and beauty is natural and is necessary. As I always say, why do we human beings need to be told what to do in literally everything in life. Why do we need rules? even a small creature like an ant, follows everything perfectly without any policing. When it comes to the great Human Beings, we need the law, rules & regulations for everything?!