I don't need social media to tell me that men are evil to women. I don't need women to tell me why they need feminism. I understand, and I'm a feminist myself. It might be difficult to get your head around that fact, but I'm a man who is all for gender equality. And that's precisely why I left my girlfriend- because I am a feminist, and she certainly isn't.
Two years ago, I didn't even know that I was a feminist.
I was just a nice guy who got friend-zoned all the time. My expertise at asking women out was pretty much zero and I was convinced that I would die in the company of my Macbook, and people would discover my death only after I stopped lecturing on Quora. But just when I was about to give up hopes about having a life, Neha asked me out.
Neha was five years younger and a fresher in our company. She was far too good looking to belong in the male majority world that happened to be our office. But corporate jobs suck for women just that much, and a woman gets eaten alive. Not Neha, though. She was fierce and she could take care of herself. Imagine my elation when she asked me out when I hadn't even considered my chances with her!
My social life got a massive upgrade and all my married friends were Jealous with a big J.
Contrary to what people assumed, I wasn't offended that a woman asked me out. She had every right to, and it didn't make me feel like I wasn't man enough. She even offered to pay on our first date but I refused to let her. She knew that it didn't make me a male chauvinist; I knew she was a feminist.
There were some ways in which office was unfair to her because she was a woman, and some ways in which it wasn't. I hated the fact that people would slap my back and make a remark about what an "item" my girlfriend was. I never understood why some guys felt so intimidated by her that they waited for her to finish drinking her coffee before going anywhere close to the coffee machine.
I never had to overtly defend her because she handled all of it amazingly well, and soon enough, she had people respecting her and treating her the way she felt comfortable. A strong, assertive woman is always such a charm.
Time flew faster than we expected. Soon, it was time for our annual appraisals. For the first time, something happened to Neha for which she couldn't defend herself. I cannot even sugar-coat it to make it sound okay. Her appraisal was actually shitty in a hurtful sort of way. She flew into a fit. By then, we had moved in together, and I couldn't hear the end of how unfair it was for her. That is when I made the mistake of giving her organizational advice. It took her about ten seconds to turn nasty.
"How could you say that to ME?", "You're my boyfriend! You're supposed to be on MY side!", "Can't you see that they're doing this just because I'm a woman?!"
For the first time, I didn't understand the basis of her argument. Because as far as I could see, it was definitely not a gender issue. I know that the other women at work had a fairly okay appraisal. Granted that senior management doesn't tend to be encouraging and they constantly make very taunting "When are you getting married?" jokes to women. But work is quantifiable in some sense, and the fact of the matter was Neha wrote bad code and skipped more deadlines than she should have.
As much as it was amazing to have her campaigning for women in the office, it was her ONE JOB to write code and she didn't do it well.
But she couldn't be reasoned with and I was branded "anti-feminist" for trying. It was our first big fight. I hated fighting with her, so I let it go. Obviously, she was only a fresher and she would get better at her job. She must have taken the appraisal badly. It shouldn't happen to anybody for the first time.
I was trying to tread carefully even while encouraging her. I did not want to come across as condescending. We would have long conversations about having really spectacular careers and maybe starting up on our own some day. She would sound really enthusiastic when we spoke, but in the office, she did nearly nothing. She had stopped making an effort altogether.
Talking to her about it was definitely going to be trouble. We had barely just gotten out of our first fight. I was dreading warning her about the way she was carrying on in the office. Her displeasure about her appraisal had become very obvious to everybody, and now they were talking about how much of an attitude she had.
They went on and on about what a spoilt princess she is, and she should just quit her job instead of wasting company money.
I was torn between accepting that they were right (minus the spoilt princess bit), and making her understand nicely that she should just work harder. I was about to reach breaking point when she suddenly quit the job one day and announced that she was going to do her MBA. I was extremely happy for her decision, but I was also thoroughly shocked that this came from nowhere. She had never mentioned anything about an MBA before and I did not even know that management was her thing!
The feminist that she was, she refused to take help from her father and decided to live off her small savings and an education loan. And I being the supportive boyfriend that I was, let her prepare for exams and write her applications at home, while I continued working. It was finally nice to see her relaxed and optimistic about her future and her career.
So, her relaxation mode was nice for the first hundred days.
Three months later, things were still the same. There was no progress whatsoever and she didn't even seem to be looking at her application statuses. She had notified her parents that she was serious about me and had happily gone into house-wife mode. On the days she got stressed and guilty about how she didn't have a job, she would order "something small" to cheer herself up. Usually another shade of pink lipstick. And with that, her savings were gone as well.
It had never been an issue with me that she didn't know how to cook and detested that activity. But now we were on a single income and we had to make ends meet. I did not have the time to cook at home, or the money to sustain our various food cravings every day. Whenever I suggested that she make dinner, even omelettes for that matter, she refused.
"But you cook so much better than I do," had stopped becoming flattering.
And soon, it became "Just because I'm a woman, it's not my full time job to cook!". I agreed. It was not her job as a woman to cook. But it was her job simply because she had to do her share to sustain our lives together. It was not solely my responsibility. As much as I sympathize with super-women in our country who cook and clean at home, and manage a full-time job, I was not one of them. And it was definitely not right of her to treat life like a vacation and expect to be pampered all the time.
It was besides the fact that I loved cooking, that I was good at my job, and my latest pay raise was a good one. It didn't mean that I was willing to part with all of it for her comfort because I was busy working hard to bring it in, in the first place. And she wasn't doing her bit.
We are talking about a fully qualified, perfectly employable independent woman. She refuses to take help from her father but it is perfectly alright for the "future husband" to look after her. She is intelligent and creative but refuses to work hard. And most of all, she is a feminist.
She seemed to have forgotten that feminism was not about female-glorification. Where was the gender equality in this? She is definitely not empowering herself by vegetating on my extra-large bean bag. It broke my heart to realize this, but she was behaving EXACTLY like a spoilt princess.
All of a sudden, employment and education became touchy topics at home. I was always the greedy male pig for asking her about it. I don't know if she understood that I wasn't going after her income if she ever got herself another job. I don't know if she understood that I was proud of her MBA ambitions and it wasn't because I felt insecure about having only a bachelor's degree. Regardless of her being a woman, I strongly believe that everybody needs to be financially independent, and know how to cook just because it is a survival skill.
The last straw was when I was writing out a cheque for UNICEF one day and at the same time, some sexy looking dress got delivered at home. Thanks to Cash on Delivery, it felt like I was hemorrhaging money. Of course we had an argument about it.
Her side of the argument was "UNICEF has enough funding. You can rip up that cheque and save your money." It didn't convince me very much. Then she reversed the whole thing onto me and blamed me for being a typical male chauvinist pig because I apparently didn't approve of her wardrobe choices. I have never hesitated to accept that she's more good looking than I deserve to have for a girlfriend, and I have never had a problem with what she wears.
I don't know if protecting her right to dress as she pleases will make the world better, but ensuring that a poor child gets a decent education certainly will make the world a much better place to be in.
That day, she got into a relationship with a fabulous dress (30% off), and I got out of a relationship with a fake feminist. She's gone back to her hometown and I like to think her parents are on the lookout for a match for her. But for her sake, I hope she's working hard to prove herself in a new job or preparing hard for the entrance examinations.