I am enjoying my morning cup of tea reading this petite article in the Bangalore Times (of India) by Ismat Tahseen on ‘Woman spreading – the next trend going viral.’ Ismat explains how this is the latest trend in social media, a pose that stems from a feminist viewpoint that women need to claim their space. Its counterpart is manspreading, the practice of men spreading their legs out a bit too wide and taking up far too much room on public transport.
It is said to be empowering and women are doing it everywhere — while commuting, at a park, on a bench, on the bed etc. If you have been told to sit with crossed legs as you grew up, this is set to bust that habit, she says.
Ismat’s article begins with the statement that anything men can do,
women can do better, right?
If you walk back to your childhood, or even today as we raise our children, there are many a do’s and don’t’s for boys and girls. In India today, some of it continues with girls being told to
Don’t go out in the sun as you will become dark and no one will want to marry you.
Do learn to cook – ‘What will your husband eat if you cannot cook?’
Don’t stay out late. Women are the weaker gender.
Girls don’t need robust education and ancestral wealth as they are meant to become another’s property anyway (Hindi phrase: Paraya dhan.)
A plaque my uncle displays in his cottage prominently since the 80’s states matter-of-factly, the four things a woman should know:
How to look like a girl,
How to act like a lady,
How to think like a man
And how to work like a dog!
For boys, we continue to encounter stereotypes such as
Only girls cry.
Be a man!
Housework is for the girls.
Men bring home the money.
Boys will be boys.
If you ask me, Men and Women can never be equal because they are their own persons, genetically wired differently and able to innately do certain things well and not so much, others.
The way nature has contributed to man and woman is unique – both have strengths and weaknesses often amazingly complimenting each other! How the genders came into being and developed to what we are today is ‘Out of our Circle of Control.’
In contrast, the way children are brought up is ‘In our Circle of Control’ and many a time contributes to stereotyping as we saw earlier. These behaviors in parents and children can be unlearned with education, awareness and mindfulness, and contribute to all genders sharing space harmoniously and contributing their best, whether equally or not.
As our own ‘persons,’ what we could do better and more of, is to support human rights, push for children’s education, foster respect and inclusion, back work opportunities for all irrespective of race and gender and break stereotypes.
As a modern Indian woman with a moderately liberal upbringing, I do not aspire to turn into a man, be perceived as wearing the pants in the house, or keep lobbying at every social jig for the ‘if men can do it, we can do it better’ mindset.
✓Let boys be boys.
✓Leave the men alone.
✓It’s okay not to take them or ourselves too seriously as competitors.
✓ It’s okay not to want to fill their shoes or womanspread as much as a manspreads.
It is, however another wondrous twist of nature that in reality, women do much better and often quicker than men, activities that include multi tasking, project planning, communication, listening and enabling (eg. nursing, teaching, counselling and advisery) social networking and asking questions. That’s how they are wired and this affinity might have developed from the stone age instincts of birthing, weaning, nurturing, gathering food and protecting their families in small groups when the men were miles away, stalking animals of prey, gone for many days.
This is also why the African proverb ruminates
If you educate a man you educate an individual,
but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation.)
This International Women’s Day weekend 2019, Life & Money in collaboration with The Garrett Planning Network U.S.A, welcomes women audiences to ‘The Women Financial Advisers Network’ Roadshows in Bangalore.
Women in Finance with 1-5 years’ work experience aspiring to work independently or returning from a sabbatical and tenured corporate women practitioners looking for greater flexibility or alternative careers will be awakened to a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities, to enable them to do business on their terms, while being nurtured to have a ‘healthy, wealthy, happy and meaningful life.’
Now, at the risk of sounding preachy, here is where I would like to see more womenspreading!
Spread yourself like a bird’s wings and soar high when it comes to being yourself, identify your talents and aspirations and fly over hurdles to achieve them. Not to please or show the men that you can do it, but for yourself.
Womanspread in the areas of financial independence, taking care of your health and wellness (something that Indian women do last!) spending valuable time with your loved ones, making time to develop your hobbies and doing your ‘bucket list,’ maybe a spiritual retreat or anything that touches your heart.
Womanspread when you are high up in the sky, to lend a wing to the others who might need it and help them realize the freedom and joy of living that you have attained.
On my deathbed, the last thing I would be thinking of is why I never womanspread on the parkbench or in the public transport. What I definitely could be thinking is how to reassure my loved ones that the best times in life were the ones we had together and now it is time to go.
Think about it.
Womanspread for the right reasons, really!
1. Womenspreading images – Kaiagerber/Bellahadid/Instagram/ https://indianexpress.com)
2. Circles of Control – Andi Roberts
3. Ismat Tahseen’s article on Women spreading – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/english/hollywood/news/After-manspreading-womanspreading-trend-goes-viral/articleshow/68179955.cms
4. Cover image – Unsplash, Arun Sharma