Indian Millenials are amid a crisis, and it is a misunderstanding!

What is a structural flaw in the rapidly progressing Indian millenial mindset? The two major genders don’t seem to be in sync at all. With the growing wave of feminism in India, more and more men (educated too, of course) are distancing themselves from the idea of feminism under the guise of it being exaggerated, overstated, and undermining of their rights. Now given that two separate genders are on either side of a political, educational, economic, and cultural movement, there is bound to be some ideological friction but the current problem is way beyond that. The reason being, that the modern educated Indian woman cannot distance herself from the movement. Most Indian women face at least a minor struggle in order to get a marketable education and a career at par with their male counterparts. Having noticed the difference between the cultural implications of each of their actions, these women are now staunch advocates of the movement, online and offline. The ones opposed to feminism, on the other hand, are quite convinced that feminism is being used to disguise misandry and is a female supremacist movement that overlooks other issues.

The difference of opinion can remain just that, a personal opinion. But in modern India, where every political opinion is scrutinized and if possible, corrected, one’s opinions on a political movement this large, makes them susceptible to trolling and bashing. And it is true for people on both sides of the movement. Both sides have been bashed enough times to resent the other side with a renewed vigour. But if we dig deeper, the issue is not of an ideological difference, but that of misinterpreted expectations.

Indian Millennials are a transit generation. India opened its markets and culture to Globalisation in 1991, and came in a wave of changes that were too rapid for a single generation to keep up with. So there is a stark difference between the worlds that the millennials and their parents grew up in. Especially the ones who were born between the late 80s to late 90s. This generation has struggled to keep up with the traditions and to adapt to the rapidly westernising world. As a result, the traditional gender norms that were imbued in the millennials as kids, are no longer valid to them as adults. Men and women, have no idea what their role in a household is, especially since the households are changing so much. This loss of direction can only lead to two things, one would either hold on to the traditional roles as tightly as they can, or set out to define new ones for themselves. Both of which are a struggle for individuality and freedom. Feminists heavily disregard traditional gender roles, some even scoff at them. And as a result, the ones who stick to these roles feel attacked. On the other hand, feminism is an extremely fluid concept and has been remolded several times in the history. And as a result, can be interpreted in several ways. Given the fluidity of the movement, the scope for misinterpretation is quite heavy and it is often labelled as male bashing.

Not just men but several women too, do not want to be associated with the label, while still believing in the principles of equality. Most millennials believe in gender equality at least in theory for they are raised on western ideals. And still, a majority of them refuse to identify with the label of Feminism. With a major struggle still ongoing for people who do not identify as either male or female, Indian feminism has proven to be a safe haven. So what is it about this label, that is getting in the way? Most people have an issue with the word itself as it appears to be an exclusive property of the female gender. Others have notions that feminism is anti-tradition. Either way, the following issues are a real time threat to the Indian millennials irrespective of their gender and equality is their best bet:

  1. India has a wage gap of 67%, which is over 20% higher than the world average. Now this may seem like a women’s issue but let us take a closer look at the implications. In addition to the wage gap being a huge problem for women, it puts men in a position of provision i.e. the traditional gender role of a provider. While it suits some, it is no longer the norm for men to want to be completely responsible of household expenses. No wonder India keeps slipping in the world happiness index steadily.
  2. Only 27% of working age women are currently employed in India. There are various factors like maternity and social expectations that can be blamed for these deplorable numbers but the consequences are even worse. With over two-thirds of the female workforce out of action,the Indian economy is suffering a loss of USD 150 billion. The economy hits all, and the consequences are pretty gender neutral, so it is safe to assume that this epidemic nature of a short-lived female workforce, is hitting every man’s pocket currently.
  3. 38% of the working women claim to be sexually harassed at workplace. It is impossible to get the numbers on molestation or lewd behaviour outside workplace, as most of these crimes go unreported in India. Let us consider the social implications at first. The more the number of gender crimes occur in a given country, the more of a cultural shift it assumes. Public spaces are deemed unsafe for not just women but also children and of course, men. Because criminals do not filter their crimes and are dangerous in general. Given the westernised lifestyle that the current generation has adopted, it is not outrageous to claim that this kind of a cultural shift affects their lifestyle. The economic implications of gender crimes are considerable too. The high number of gender crimes have already hit the tourism industry hard. The international image of India also affects the investments and funds that come in the country.

On a principle, rape is not listed here as an issue. Because rape is an act of violence and not a social issue or a natural hazard, and does not need to be explained.

There are a plethora of issues that are considered women’s issues but have hard-hitting consequences for the society at large and need to be actively worked towards. With a majority of Indian Millennials confused with labels, these issues that affect their everyday lives, go unnoticed. Remember, you don’t need to wear a label to be a decent person, and wearing the label does not conform you to stereotypes. The crisis is that of identity and social expectations, and millennials are busy labelling it as ‘feminazi bullshit.’

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