Female Independence is attractive – no Need to play needy! – 30 Aug 16

I yesterday mentioned something that seems to have enraged the feelings of some of my feminist readers. I assure you, dear ladies, that the words that you read were not meant the way you understood them. I am indeed in favour of independent women and don’t think you can only ‘get a guy’ if you are needy.

This question actually came from a sentence I wrote: “As long as you are showing the world that you are the tough single woman who faces life on her own and loves her independence, there may be few men who would dare making an offer.”

A few of my female readers obviously felt offended by this sentence, interpreting it as a statement asking women to be needy, dependent and unable to face this tough world on her own! Or that you can only get a man who loves you if you are like that. Ladies, please don’t get me wrong, that is really not what I meant and I thought the next sentence made it a bit clearer: “You don’t seem as though you would want them in your life!”

So, again, a bit more in detail: please be independent and tough! You can face this world on your own and you definitely don’t need a man for this. I don’t think that all men actually want to have child-like beings that they have to take care of in every way. No, I believe it is attractive in a woman if she can stand her ground and I am surely not the only man thinking this way!

At the same time however, a lot of these women actually simultaneously send a signal to men that keeps them away. They are practically telling them to back off by their actions, behavior, gestures and even words! Maybe inside yourself you think every man wants to have a needy woman and that’s why you defend your independence! You assume that a man would attack you for this and so you prevent any such action from their side by showing them they should better not approach you at all.

That is what I meant with my sentence. You don’t need to pretend to be needy to get a man. However you may want to consider not scaring them away. You can show that you are open for getting close to someone. You can show that you would be ready to go further if the right one comes – a man that respects your independence.

Jobs for both Genders but Housework remains the Task of Women – 10 Dec 15

Yesterday I started writing about gender roles and how they are also still present in the west, even if not as strongly as you can see them in India. While I yesterday concentrated on the pressure that men have on not becoming ‘unmanly’ by performing household chores for example, women also still have to fight outdated ideas of people regarding their gender.

Obviously, a lot of families in India expect women to be at home while there have already been generations of children in the west growing up while their mother was working – halftime or even fulltime! Women are not expected to be housewives after marriage. The infrastructure for working mothers has improved.

But it is not perfect. Women are not free of gender roles and expectations on how they should behave. We have not yet reached equality in so many aspects: the chances for women to get up into management are lower and their salary is lower than that of male employees in the same position! And in people’s minds, the inequality is even much worse which often causes the women themselves to have doubts on their autonomy and role in their family or society!

You can see that in the way a family is set up. It may be more normal that a mother also goes to work but at the same time, you will often see that she nevertheless is the one to do a majority of the chores at home. She can be the toughest person at work but at home, she believes it is right that she does the cooking and picks up the kids. Her husband, having worked equal hours, gets to relax on the couch. Often, both don’t see anything wrong until she suddenly suffers from extreme stress, depression and burnout. She has shouldered it all, thinking it is her task to be a modern working woman and a perfect housewife and mother at the same time!

I have met a lot of women who have taken all of these tasks on themselves. They embrace the idea that they can be independent, equal to men and work as hard and long as they can – but they still expect of themselves to complete all the tasks that their grandmothers were doing at home perfectly as well! They forget that their grandmothers did only that. Not that it shouldn’t be valued – but you just cannot be superwoman, managing work, household and children perfectly at all times!

Unfortunately men also play a role in strengthening this belief: it is so comfortable to just have their wives do it all, so why bother and help? Why to get up and wash the dishes yourself? Why to iron your own shirts if someone is doing it for you?

Because you love your wife and want your daughters to be strong women as well. Teach your sons that they can help at home by showing them how. Show your daughters that men and women help each other and master work and household together! Take responsibility at home – after all your wife is helping financially by her work as well!

We are still stuck in outdated gender roles and it will still be a long way to get out of them, reaching equality. As long as we take one step after the other, however, we can one day reach there!

No, cleaning the House is not unmanly at all! – 9 Dec 15

When I was yesterday writing about the school book that suggested you should be scared of at least one family member, which would mostly be the father, I had to reflect on gender roles a little bit. I came to the conclusion that even in modern countries, people still struggle with what they are ‘supposed to do’ simply because they are either a man or a woman.

Obviously, in India, the traditional distribution of tasks according to gender is still very much in place. The man is the provider for the family. In a lot of families, women only go to work if they absolutely have to so that their family can survive. Even among the poor families of our school however there are also some of those fathers who would see it as a big shame if their wife worked and contributed to the family income! That’s how they would rather go to bed hungry than letting their wives go to work. And that is the case even if the woman is more than willing to go and earn money!

Of course, in India, many women still stay at home right after their marriage and when they have children even though they have completed studies at their university. They have master degrees but because they are women, they have the task of taking care of the house, bearing children and raising them.

In the west, too, however, I have seen that both women and men still are not at ease with completely leaving these roles. I believe it is completely fine if a woman wants to be at home after being a mother and raising the children. If it is financially possible as well as something that makes her happy, I would encourage that. At the same time however it should be just as fine if her husband decides to do this instead! She goes to work and finances the home while the husband does the tasks from washing the laundry to doing diapers!

Unfortunately, men who decide to take this step are very often laughed about. Their efforts are belittled – which only shows how very little you actually respect women who do all of this work! You still think the work that is done at home is less important, less difficult and can be done by someone not qualified to do the ‘higher work’, the one that earns money! What a nonsense! The best cure for anybody who thinks like this would be to just try it himself! Take the challenge and show me how you can clean the whole house, go shopping, cook for the complete family and wash everyone’s clothes with two toddlers running around you!

Isn’t it unbelievable that still today, 15 years into the 21st century, there are a lot of people thinking it is unmanly to wash your own clothes and cook your own food, not to speak of feeding your offspring, those who will one day do the same for you?

It is the same reason why people think men should not cry, the same reason why in the west you will see women walking arm and arm but not men. Why showing affection is something reserved for women and alcohol is the solution to problems instead of talking about your own feelings!

Stop putting too much pressure on a man’s shoulders while not valuing and respecting a woman’s abilities! Women have their own burden to bear – but more about that tomorrow.

Are we so negative that we see Gender Discrimination and other Evils everywhere? – 25 Oct 15

Today I had a few thoughts on gender equality, feminism and the attitude of some people to search for something bad in everything they see. Let me explain you this as well as what this all has to do with the Ashram kitchen.

A few of our Ashram guests had an Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop today. They had started in the morning by making paneer and in the afternoon, everyone sat together in the entrance hall of the Ashram, picking spinach leaves. It was a pleasant round of women with my grandmother, three of our female staff members and our guests. I thought it was a nice scene and I took a photo.

After having posted it on facebook, I got several positive comments plus two of the same kind:

"Do only women have the responsibility of cooking food in your place?" and "Seeing your previous posts, I was hoping that men would take part in preparing the daily food at your Ashram!"

Quite obviously these two commentators assumed, from seeing one single picture out of our Ashram, one moment’s shot, that the ladies picking the spinach would also be the ones to prepare the meal. That they were the ones in charge of the kitchen.

I replied with another picture of the situation in the kitchen: several male staff members in the kitchen, rolling out and frying flat bread. I mentioned my hope that this picture would not spark a debate on why we didn’t allow women in our kitchen!

The commentators were people who have never been here, whom I don’t know personally and who really have no idea of the setup of our Ashram, staff and family.

Rest assured, everyone who sees this photo, that men and women work here together with an equal share in tasks of every domain! Currently, the main cook of our kitchen is male. His helpers are both male as female. They all cut vegetables, stir in the pots and bring them to the table! We wouldn’t mind having a female head chef in our kitchen either! My mother was the one who always supervised the kitchen while my brothers and I have taken over that responsibility after she had left – it doesn’t matter which gender the person has as long as he or she knows what needs to be done and how!

So the question of gender equality was quite quickly out of my mind again, as I know we don’t discriminate anybody here – but I thought some more about the mental situation of the commentators. I believe it reflects your inside if you search for something negative wherever you look. Without knowing more, you interpret something into pictures.

Why can’t you just take things light from time to time? Why can’t you just appreciate a nice picture and leave it at that without searching for a fault?

Saving Men from Women’s sexual Desire – A Plea for Gender Equality – 7 May 15

When writing about marital rape yesterday, I noticed how again and again the question comes of a woman’s consent when it comes to sex. I have actually never read about the question of a man’s consent! Nor have I ever in such a discussion read about a woman’s need for sex! How come?

As I explained yesterday, Hinduism expects women to just obey their husbands. This means if he wants to have sex, she should be available. Islam is, as you can imagine, equally disrespectful of a woman’s wishes. In fact, I recently read that Muhammad specified the required availability of a women for her husband very much in detail: a woman should not refuse her husband’s wish for sex, even if she is ‘on a camel’s saddle’!

Wow – that prophet had quite vivid fantasies, didn’t he!?

So the whole discussion is about the consent of a woman. She should always be ready for sex for her husband. But what happens if her husband never – or very rarely – asks her? What about her own need for sex?

It is all and always about men wanting to have sex, like animals, at any time of the day! No, not only any time but no matter what their situation their wife is in – except for the time of her menstruation of course because then she is impure and untouchable. Could it not be that a man actually doesn’t feel like having sex?

Oh yes, and that a woman really wants to have sex very much? Don’t ever underestimate the sexual desires of a woman! Many women would go to great lengths trying to get a man to sleep with them when they want, no, when they need it! The ‘weaker sex’ gains incredible strengths and has a much wider repertoire of weapons to use than men, whose brains, as we all know, are not the most active part of their body when the blood flows southward! And with the help of their intellect, the ‘fairer sex’ can even turn out their less fair sides!

That’s how I hereby plead for the consideration of male consent in any future discussions on consensual or non-consensual sex! An appeal against discrimination of male lack of lust and a demand for gender equality!

A Feeling of Trust and Love – 15 Feb 15

I have had a few thoughts on partnerships and the togetherness with the one you love most in your life.

In the evenings, after dinner and after having spent time with our guests, we often sit inside my father’s room to be with him for a while, too. It is the time before Apra starts going to bed – or more precisely before the steps that lead to her falling asleep. We play, we talk, we simply spend time together, all sitting on his bed. Yesterday, when we were sitting there together, I leaned my head on Ramona’s shoulder, she moved a bit further towards me and so I was half lying there, cradled in her arms. That feeling which I had then started my thoughts.

Of course I felt loved but there was more to it, finer nuances. I felt hugged, taken care of and protected. It may sound funny, as there is nothing that Ramona would need to protect me of and of course, for everyone who thinks that is an unmanly feeling, I am able to protect myself. 🙂 That feeling is there though and it is a very beautiful feeling, a feeling of trust and love.

At the same time I remembered how beautiful it is for me to hold her in my arms as well! The feeling of having another human whom you can care for and provide for – even though, for every feminist who is reading my blog, my wife is fully able to provide for herself! 🙂 This feeling is also wonderful and although I of course feel this more intensely with Apra, who as a child really depends on me and the adults around her, it is obviously different with Ramona. I feel proud that this woman has chosen me to be the one in whose arms she wants to lie and on whose shoulder she wants to lean when she needs it or wants it.

I know that these feelings are somewhat primal, that there are very basic instincts to it that make them appear in our hearts, bodies and minds. That doesn’t make them less important though, I believe. It is important for me to feel them and I cherish them each time I feel them consciously!

What amazed me yesterday was the realization that we truly have both sides of these feelings. When talking about primal instincts, you think that the man will always feel the pride of being the protector and the urge of being the provider whereas the woman will always want to be protected and taken care of. I know however that we all have both and I think we should live both sides!

I talked with my wife and she, too, has experienced both feelings. I guess it is a sense that can appear in today’s relationships, in a modern society because it is possible in today’s time for a man to accept that he wants to be protected, too, and for a woman to accept that she, too, would like to provide for those she loves.

We need to accept both sides – and I hope you can enjoy them the way I do!

The Disappointment when a Girl is born – even in India’s high Society! – 14 Jan 15

When writing about Monika yesterday, I again had to think of her whole family situation and the history of her mother, whose two daughters were given for adoption. Because they were girls, not boys. Ramona had a talk with her gynecologist some time ago – and what she told confirmed once more that this is still the horrible truth also in higher circles of society!

The hospital that Ramona’s gynecologist works in, where Apra was born and where Monika gets treated is, as I already told you, a good one. This means that the doctors know what they are doing, the staff is very friendly and competent and you obviously also pay for it. When the doctor tells of the women who gave birth there, it means they are upper middle class or upper class. They are educated, they often had or have jobs and they are exposed to international media, modern ways of living and the truth about outdated values.

Unfortunately however the doctor told that she constantly hears of superstitions and terrible values and attitudes. She does not only regularly get requests to get a C-section done on the correct date and time – the ‘Muhurt’, which is calculated according to the situation of planets and stars, providing the best birth horoscope possible.

No, another aspect to her work is to console the women who just gave birth to a girl. There are women with high university degrees who go through hours of labour and then break down in tears when the baby is finally born. Not of relief or exhaustion but of disappointment. The words ‘It is a girl!’ don’t bring excitement or joy!

So you see, it doesn’t matter whether the woman is educated or not, whether she already has a boy or not, she can have the idea that a boy is more valuable than a girl. It is the way that she grew up, the things that she hears her family say and the expectations that her family has on her giving birth to a boy.

When we ask children about their family, for example whether their uncle and aunt also have children, we hear them say things like ‘They only have three girls, no boy.’ When girls talk, they sometimes talk about their family’s bad situation because ‘we are so many sisters’. When Ramona was pregnant, at least ten people wished her ‘May it be a boy!’

India is growing and developing – but there is still a lot of progress to be made in order to get rid of such horrible ideas, attitudes and values!

More Women for Management Positions! – 8 May 14

After reading yesterdays’ diary entry, someone told me that I should not be too surprised about the reactions of our guest’s colleagues. After all, she was a woman and obviously doing her job better than her male colleagues. Women in such positions hardly get the appreciation they deserve. This feedback was very interesting to me and I would like to further explore it.

First of all, there is the statement that management is still a domain dominated by men. There are women in management and in many countries also in high posts but the percentage is still showing that more men reach to the high management posts. Let’s talk about the reasons, such as pregnancy and motherhood, at a later point and let’s concentrate on the consequences.

So there is one woman among a team of, let’s say, ten men. She manages to get better figures in statistics than all of them, while in the minds of these men there is still the thought ‘How could a woman do my job?’ Yes, this thought, this belittlement of women, unfortunately still exists. Society in general thinks of certain work fields as ‘male’ and others as ‘female’, even though big steps have been made towards gender equality.

Coming back to management, men however think that women cannot be as hard and tough as they can be. It is not their nature. They hesitate shouting at their employees. If that is the case and if this toughness shows when you yell at your employees, get loud and treat them as inferior, I believe we should really promote more women into management positions. If men cannot, by nature, control their temper, then women have to come to higher posts and show that there is a way to lead a team without degrading and humiliating others! That you can be strict without getting loud. That you can be polite and nice while leading the way to success.

By having more women in higher posts, the other problems would immediately be solved. Nobody would think that those jobs are made for men. No men would thus be hurt in his pride if a woman got better results than him! And no man could thus tell a woman how to better do such a job.

I know that there are many women in the west in good positions who may not face such problems or maybe just the slightest feeling of not being as much respected as their male colleagues. It happens though and whoever has experienced how a coworker made her feel incapable of doing her job as well as he would, knows what I am talking about.

While it is much better in the west, where the movement for empowering women has had lots of success already, the situation in India still looks very different. There are not many women in leading positions of big companies. The number of working women overall is very low.

You can thus imagine their situation – accepted in low positions, cheaper than male employees and not trusted with difficult tasks.

There is still lots of change necessary around the world. In western and eastern countries. In order to get equality, respect for everyone and a better working atmosphere. In order to have more happy people.

Why do we celebrate International Women’s Day? – 8 Mar 12

Today is International Women’s Day. This is a day on which women all over the world celebrate just being women and think of those women who have done big things in the world. They have made big inventions or they have founded charities. They were the first women in big industries or companies, they are high politicians or they brought more women’s rights to their countries. But why are we actually celebrating this?

Is there an International Men’s Day? Maybe there is because of reasons of fairness but even if, I have never heard about it. There are thousands of men who could be celebrated. They have been the first on the moon, they run the most successful companies, they run the most countries and they have also founded most charities. Nevertheless the International Women’s Day is important – because it is still rare that women are on top of businesses. Because female heads of state are still not as frequent as male ones. Because there are still so many countries dominated by men and so many places in which women are suppressed. We have not reached a state of equality and this is why we the International Women’s Day is publicly so emphasized.

Obviously the reason for the inequality lies in the history of mankind. There have been developments in different societies, influenced by religion and driven by the greed for power, that have created this state which we are now in. Of course men were responsible for it, that has to be clearly said but we all, men and women, can work on getting to a state of equality.

Why do I say both genders have to work on it? Men obviously have to change their behavior towards women. In countries where women are not allowed to drive cars or to go out without their husband or another male member of the family, laws have to change! Men have to see their own faults in the same light as they see those of women and legal punishment has to be equal for both.

Additionally men should not see women only as their outer appearance. A woman is not just a body, she is not a showpiece or an advertisement for yourself. She is a person with a character, an intellect and an opinion.

Women however, too, have to realize this all. I often feel that some women believe they are free and independent and that is why they dress in very short clothes and exhibit their body. In reality however I believe they reduce themselves to their body, too. They do exactly that what men would like to see. Isn’t that in some way contributing to the inequality? On another part of the planet I want to ask women to throw off the burqa which covers their hair and head so that no other man looks at them. Why can you look at other men then?

There are so many more topics like female circumcision, the stoning of women or lower salary for women in the same jobs. The world has to change away from inequality. The reality is that women are not lower than men. They are just as intelligent and they can be even as strong. What strength they might miss in their arms, they have in their hearts. Don’t forget this! Happy International Women’s Day!

– And on a side note: Happy Holi! Today was the last day of the colour festival!

Suppression and Inequality of Women in the Religion of Islam – 20 Jun 11

Some time ago I was reading a few articles in the online version of a national Indian newspaper. They were related to the religion of Islam and the role of women in many countries where Islam is the primary and sometimes only religion. What I read made me wonder again how any religion can make such difference of genders, in between man and woman.

I don’t want to go in detail with what I read but would like to write down a few examples mentioned in those articles. The authors wrote what the religious law of Islam allows women to do and, more importantly, what it doesn’t allow them to do:

Muslim women are not allowed to work out side of their home.

It is not permitted for a Muslim woman to marry a man of another religion.

Muslim women are only allowed to travel long journeys in male company. And this company has to be a male relative with whom they cannot have sex, such as their father or brother.

A Muslim woman or girl is not allowed to talk on phone with her fiancé.

There were two further laws that were not directly related with women but which also made me wonder about this religion:

Chatting on the internet is against the law of Islam.

Islam does not allow its believers to donate blood. This can only be accepted if it is done in order to save the life of a near and dear one.

Once in Iran, a popular religious leader gave a statement: by wearing clothes that encourage others to look at them, women mislead young men and in this way encourage extra-marital sex. Due to this misbehavior, our country has suffered from a lot of earthquakes.

It seems extra-marital sex is so powerful that it makes the whole earth shake! Everybody knows the Iran is an earthquake-affected area. Maybe in Japan that was also the case and there were too many woman wearing revealing clothes whereas people in Germany don’t seem to have a lot of extra-marital sex, if you follow his reasoning.

Seriously, I don’t understand such laws and I don’t understand how they can believe in such inequality! If a man is allowed to have four wives, why can a woman not have several husbands or at least talk on phone with the one that she is going to marry? What is the reason behind all this? I have written before about such inequality and suppression, too, and mentioned that women are in no way second-grade people. They are equally important in life as men and they are the ones in which life grows and who give birth. We all have a mother, how can we believe it is good to suppress women when our mothers are also women?

I also don’t know how women can live in such conditions of suppression. But there are many countries in which it is normal that women live in full suppression and somehow a lot of them are able to accept their fate as it is. I have a lot of respect for every woman in those countries who fights, stands up for her real rights as an equal being and helps other women to find their strength. There are female doctors, journalists, human right activists and also bloggers who write about the situation in their countries. Many of them daily risk their lives but their aim is to show the world what is going on. It has to change and it will.