Gender stereotypes are an age-old concept. However, women today are breaking these shackles and making their own rules. In fact, there are several women and men in the city who are shaking the foundation of these stereotypes with panache.
Dhriti Malhotra of Mount Carmel College comes from a family that has never adhered to ‘gender stereotypes’. Her mother is a phenomenal driver and her father enjoys cooking. Most women in her family, right from her grandmother to her aunts, mother and sister, have opted for short hair. She says, “Until high school, the length of my hair was determined by my mother. I hated the short hair and really wanted to have long, beautiful curls like the girls in my class.” She then put her foot down and grew her hair for 3 years only to eventually chop them off this summer. “I’m accustomed to short hair and it’s trouble-free to maintain. Also, I feel much cooler with short hair!” she says laughing.
Ashwini Jaisim says, “The ‘divorced’ tag is a stigma. It worries me that people think my children will corrupt their lives because they have a single parent. The assumption that if you have a child, you must be married should be eradicated.” She feels that single parents face several challenges and would appreciate empathy and support, instead of shock and rejection. Thyagrajan, 80, who enjoys cooking and maintaining the house, voices similar sentiments on the issue. “In the present day scenario, where both parents are working, it is unreasonable to expect the lady alone to attend to all of the household chores. Men taking charge of daily errands is a progressive step which balances the household work and makes the family atmosphere more congenial,” he expresses.
For many, these stereotypes haven’t deterred them from following their dreams. This lot has been courageously challenging them to be what they want to be. “After riding horses as a child and going up in a microlight, my parents caught me riding a friend’s bike without a license and a helmet. My father told me that if I wanted to do it, I should do it properly,” says Shloka Kumar. She went to the Coimbatore track to ride a race-prepared R15 and her father took her go carting for better car control. While she doesn’t think much of it, the RTO inspector told her mother that hardly any girls come in for a geared bike license. Shloka, who’s currently waiting to ride her father’s Honda CBR 650F, firmly believes, “Nobody should be deterred by stereotypes. If doing something makes them happy, they should go for it without a second thought.”
Meanwhile Ashika Shetty, who chose to retain her maiden surname after marriage, feels that women are now clear about their physical, emotional and financial needs.
She states, “A woman doesn’t need to have her identity tied to anybody and is an individual in her own right. She is as human as a man. It is a liberating step and I hope many more women find the strength ‘to be’.”