The Shackles of Empowerment

After publishing my post last evening, I was thinking about how things are in the world around me these days and I can’t help but think of women and how some lives are changing every day and others might be stuck in a different era for all the changes they have been exposed to.

While I was growing up, emancipation was a huge buzzword. We read about it in regarding to the freeing of the slaves, the changes in South Africa and now these days it’s all about being “empowered”; even more so if you’re of the female gender.

Webster’s Diction defines empowerment as-

  • authority or power given to someone to do something.”individuals are given empowerment to create their own dwellings”
  • the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. “political steps for the empowerment of women”

I, for one, would like the second definition of the word to be more prevalent with the first definition coming in to facilitate and enable the latter as and when necessary.

It seems very claustrophobic at times  when a woman in this day and age *has* to subscribe to be empowered or supporting empowerment for the rest. I’m all for free will and all the other requisite freedoms being the norm for an individual, rather than as an exception but having to get on the bandwagon for a “Cause” whether I feel like it or not, seems rather forced and not much of an empowerment.

The household help that I have; I view them as rather empowered. They earn for their families, they raise their kids, they participate in all social functions, festivities and still manage to get more done than people like myself who hire them to make our lives easier. They may still have to defer to the men in their families but then again, I do too. I defered to my father while I was growing up and often defer to my husband in decisions pertaining to our family. And yet I can very confidently state that I am rather empowered to “do my own thing” and live life on my own terms.

The moms who work 12-14 hours in a day are fantastic management experts without necessarily being in that role. They see to their career progression, have a semblance of a social life, take care of their health, raise their kids and still remain productive people for the most part. I would call them empowered too.

The SAHMs, me included, who manage things on the home front; either out of a need or a want and have supporting families who enable them to choose whether they want to work 10-hour days outside the home or work throughout the day in a systematic manner inside; I view us an lot empowered as well.

So why do we have these labels of Feminazi coming up when a women talks more stringently of other women being stronger? For that matter, why do we *have* to show support for things which are personal choices for most urbane women?

I know a family where the mom of 2 young girls lives in an South East Asian country while the rest of her family live in India. Her kids are raised jointly by her parents and her husband and everyone, right from her parents to her spouse, is terribly hands on and the girls are happy and well-adjusted. The mom flies down to India for almost every single festival, occasion and event and am sure is proving to be a strong role model for her girls. As is the grandmother. Are these 2 women empowered by our definitions?

Isn’t our time better spent in spreading messages of hygiene, safety for women and children at large? Do we really need a high-level CEO alone talking about Work-Life-Balance? Can we spend time lifting up each and everyone who tries to do something new, different or just tries to chalk out a separate place for themselves to shine? Do the ones bringing in a paycheck have to champion the cause of those who don’t?

So where does the source of our empowerment lie? Who gets to take a call about my self-worth and the thoughts that I “ought” to think? Maybe sisterhood isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be if we all need to be on the same page and forget to respect, however grudgingly, our individual differences.

Something to think about.


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