Women of Today
by Elizabeth Menon

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We talk about equality, equal wages, political correctness and acceptability in all walks of life, but it is worth considering whether these factors apply when it comes to women. They are paid less in their work places and in the field of games such as Tennis. It's a kind of accepted saying that women work less than men and therefore deserve less! It may have been true in the past when women stayed home to take care of the children and nothing more. But women have changed over the years: 'they have come out'! Intelligent, sharp-witted, agile, independent and immaculately dressed: there you have it - ‘The New Super Power’- the women of today! She is capable of accomplishing anything, if given the chance. She goes out to work and return home in the eve¬ni¬ng¬, only to find that the evening meal is yet to be prepared! How many men do you find who are happy to show their culinary expertise in the kitchen? It is ex¬pected of women, but the reverse is true for men; of course there are exceptions to the norm. Men today are more willing to try cooking, cleaning, change the oc¬casional nappy and perhaps even to cope better when the wife earns more.

Gone are the days when she toiled at the kitchen stove all day long; she is aware of her needs and willing to fight for them. She expects to be given the respect she de¬serves, both at home and at work. Women were happy to deal with the nuts and bolts of ordinary life - parents' evening, swimming lessons, music and dance classes, family house full of colouring books and toys - and still are, but they de¬mand more. They have realised their intellectual potential and determined to do something about it! One likes to believe that the 'dumb dame’ stigma has withered in the wake of equal opportunity: but has it? She is still branded as 'loud' if she as much as voices her opinion and would be snubbed if she happens to be more intelligent.

The dictum 'women should be seen and not heard' is still very much live! Men still find it very difficult to accept new ideas when it originates from a woman. Kerala is one of the few states in India where women are given more respect. It is no surprise that we have had judges, state governors and ministers among the women in Kerala. The women in Kerala police force are well known for their dedication and discipline. They have even conquered the field of athletics and games. Women on two wheels have become a familiar sight on the roads of Kerala dur¬ing the past few years. It is not unusual to find a Malayalee woman taking her whole family on her two-wheeler - children to school and husband to work. She does it all and then manages to reach her office on time. It would have been inconceivable a few years ago! There is even a driving school in Madras run by women, 'for women'. She has a major part to play in every aspect of the family decisions and how it is implemented -at least she likes to believe that she does!

Most women even find time to help the children with their homework. It is a known fact that the women of Kerala' are in the fore- front, in the field of medi¬cine, nursing and teaching, to name a few. One is proud, that Kerala the land of 100% literacy status has produced great talents such as Vallathol, Thakazhi, M T Vasudevan Nair, Ke¬savadev, Adoor, Yesudas, Yousafali Kecheri, Balamani Amma, Madhavi kutty, P R Shyamala and Sarah Joseph in the past; and now, the new literary explosion, Arundhathy Roy who hails from Kottayam, has taken Kerala on to the centre stage of the literary world. The libraries in Kerala are practically run by women with post - graduate degree in library science. Even politics, which was dominated by men, did not stop women like K R Gouri.

These days, women are even controlling their reproductive destiny to some extent. Contraceptive pills are not the only ones on their list, but emergency contraceptive pills, the Implanon, IUD/IUS, the patch and the injection are very much on their list of things to consider. They are aware and quiet willing to accept other methods when any of these fail. Women are determined to decide when they wish to have babies and how. They need not just babies but the power to create an environment that is fit enough for their survival financially and socially. The welfare of their children, family and society is enshrined as the guiding principle in all their endeavours.

Women are capable of considering their options and making evidence based choices. It is rather difficult combining a career and a decent home life - super woman though she is. One needs to feel supported and fulfilled. Is she stressed out? She may arrive at work feeling as if she has already done a full day; colleagues may doubt her commitment to her jobs and make life dif¬ficult. She may be told that juvenile delinquents were the products of families where mothers worked, despite her belief that children get more" qual¬ity time". Women of today expect their partners to contribute towards childcare and household chores. What we need is self-cleaning houses, work place crèches or babies that sleep for eight hours a day, from the moment of birth!

Women of today are learning to avoid situations, which make them stressful; it is a hard struggle to reach that goal. She has found music, yoga, aerobics, swimming, aromatherapy, massage and hypnotherapy: the stress busters! There will be a few who would class her as the ‘High maintenance woman’. Despite all this, the new woman ‘ The Super Power’ has arrived’! She still believes in the power and value of a family unit, which she is quite determined to hold in high esteem.

© E Menon

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