What women really want

Real emancipation comes when they are allowed to participate more often

By Malavika Varadan

Published: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 6:06 PM

Yet another International Women’s Day has come and gone. Some of us got flowers and some of us got cupcakes, and some of us made speeches, and others got invited to webinars — but to be honest, I think we all are a little tired.

We, the women, are tired of this constant promise of change, but when it comes to the decisions made behind closed doors, everything remains more or less the same.

I was scrolling through my feed earlier this month and saw an advert for a special women’s day discount offer for lip enhancement surgery. I laughed at the irony.

“Why can’t you women ever be happy?” asked a man I know. “At least you have a day. Us men, we don’t even get that. Or no one celebrates it anyway! What do you want?”

Thanks for asking. Here’s is what I would like.

I would like to be asked my opinion, without anyone speaking for me. I would like structural change. I would like companies to consciously make a choice to place women who are great at what they do in positions of power. And when they get the role, I would like men to ask them for their opinion and then listen.

I would like men to check themselves, to see how they behave when they hear opposition from a woman. I would like a seat at the table. Wait, I’d like a table of my own, that I get to fill.

I would like dinner parties to look different. I don’t want to be in the women’s corner discussing children while men talk about the economy. I want the men I know, to go fill their own plates. Maybe, even bring their wives dinner. I would like men to take ownership of the home — that doesn’t mean just executing the job, but also managing the system.

I would like more women to take pride in their careers advancing faster than their partners’. I would like them to know that it’s okay if they earn more, and they shouldn’t try to hide it like a dirty family secret.

I would like more young women to know that they are not expected to be perfect all the time. That they can make mistakes — personally, professionally, in their relationships and that’s okay. I would like less girls to worry about being ‘good’ and ‘likeable’.

I would like more school WhatsApp groups to have both parents on them. I would like to see more fathers getting up when their child needs something. I would like more young boys saying they would like to be the next Greta Thunberg or Jacinda Ardern. I would like more young girls to be taught to take risks and challenge authority, at every level.

I would like us to stop talking of the sacrifices women make because what that tells young girls is that when the choice is presented to them — to choose between what is good for them and what is good for the other person — they must choose the latter. That society only respects women who’ve made sacrifices, not those who said this is what I want, so see you later.

I am okay not receiving pink cupcakes, but can you do this for me?


More news from Culture Compass
Why grades aren’t everything

Culture Compass

Why grades aren’t everything

Problem-solving, team work, and self-management are set to be the important skills of the future

Culture Compass 1 year ago