• Mohana Prabhakar

Women cry. So do men.

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Someone I met recently at a wedding said, “So how did you celebrate International Women’s Day?” After blanking out completely, I think I replied with an extremely embarrassing ‘everyday is women’s day’ sort of line.

Hours later once I stopped cringing, I thought a bit more about it. Not about International Women’s Day in particular but with gender parity knocking on the fringes of my consciousness, I thought about men and women and our relationships at home and outside.

First, just for the sake of parity, may I say that men do cry, not just women. They cry at the movies, when their team loses (somehow football fans are the most prone), when they hold their baby for the first time, watching a particularly heartwarming clip on YouTube… there are so many instances. No shame in admitting it, guys. We do it all the time too.

I think, we, urban women typically, often delude ourselves about how much the world has changed. Leaving aside the horror stories that are all too present, and not just in Third World countries, let’s talk about ‘empowered’ women, in jobs and at home.

While the world is a much better place for women than it was in the last century, economic independence being one of the biggest changes, not that much has changed socially and culturally.

So now you may be sitting in the boardroom with the men, but going out for a quick drink in the evening with them is still not exactly okay. Out-of-office bonding is hugely popular even today and continues to be very much a men-only affair. A woman in the mix usually makes the men stilted in their conversation and more uncomfortable than the woman herself feels.

From the time that Mr Man clubbed Ms Woman on the head and dragged her to his cave by her hair, things have changed. Ms Woman ventured out of the cave and did some great hunting and foraging of her own, but somehow the cave still remained her responsibility. Or did she keep it as hers?

Hands on your hearts, how many of you out there don’t suffer from pangs of guilt that we are not doing enough for the home and hearth? Even if no one is saying anything, we can still be pretty good at beating ourselves up, because secretly we think we are Superwoman. My son was six when I started working, but little things like not being there with the other moms waiting for him to get off the school bus bothered me. The fact that I am talking about it 20 years later is proof enough.

How many men do you think, come home from work and feel guilty that they are not doing something in the kitchen or helping the kids with homework? As I said, we are wired differently.

We also worry a bit too much about what others think, actually what everyone thinks. We can sit and agonise over ‘did you see how your mother looked at me’, ‘I think she hates me’, “Why does she hate me’, whereas he would finish it off with ‘don’t think your mother likes me,’ and switch on the Sports channel.

In the end we all work out different equations with our loved ones. Take mine. My husband of many, many years has got used to my idiosyncrasies of not wanting to go grocery shopping alone to Sultan Center, but being able to go to Valencia alone for a test drive. For four long years when we first started Muscat Daily, I went home every night around midnight. And he waited to have dinner with me and listen to my trials and tribulations, though he had to go to work at 8.30 in the morning, while I slept.

We both got really fat as a result, friends thought he was crazy – and the truth is I couldn’t have got here without him. So if I had remembered International Women’s Day, I would have said thank you to him. Not for empowering me, because he didn’t ‘give’ me the power or authority to do something. He simply accepted me as I am, despite my complete inability to make desserts (very important fact).

So let’s give ourselves a break, worry less about the small things, get crowned co-king of our castle, even without being Martha Stewart, Indra Nooyi and Gisele Bündchen rolled into one.

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