Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Women, Know Your Place.

As a keen Lankaphile I pay regular attention to the available online newspapers, whether crap ones or good ones I like to read them to be able to formulate my own opinions. I have an ongoing debate with someone who tells me that a person has to live in Sri Lanka to really experience it and know about it. My side of the coin is that these days, with blogs and other online content, we can learn much about day to day life there compared to the days before the net was such a part of our lives.

Of course living on the island gives anyone a better perspective than that of someone who hasn't lived there, but a person can be pretty well informed through other means too. Enough of that, it's just padding and a bit of an introduction. And lately my padding and introductions have led to two and three part posts, which you're getting a but pissed off with I reckon.

I'm continually surprised by some people's attitude towards the roles of men and women in society, more specifically I'm often shocked when I hear people talk of women as being the home maker and the child rearer. It's not that women, or men in my opinion, shouldn't do those things or assume those roles if they want to. If people are happy then I'm all for that. I just have issues with society expecting things of the female species that the average female may not want to do.

I suppose I'm a bit of a women's libber in that sense, perhaps because of my background. My maternal grandmother was very active in that sphere and even tried to emulate Emily Davison, the woman who threw herself under the King's racehorse here in the UK in 1913. Unfortunately she attempted a copy cat thing and threw herself under a bullock cart on the Galle Road in 1948, which probably makes it a copy cow thing. The event was seen as a failure, mostly because my grandmother had forgotten that bullocks travel at about 2 mph, so the driver steered around her, shouted something in Sinhala about my grandmother's breasts and life carried on as normal. I have heard that the bullock suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and had to have several weeks off work, but cannot verify the fact. It may only have been a few days.

My thinking is also that women in Sri Lanka are less free to pursue careers and their desired paths than they are here in the UK., not because they don't want to but because of the expectations of society. There are many, many career ladies in SL but the mass media and much of Sri Lankan society expects women to fill that "wife" and "homemaker" role. Sometimes I get annoyed and angered by this and sometimes I laugh, in a dreadfully patronising and condescending way, about this specific example of Sri Lanka playing catch up with Western society.

Then I read the women's section in a Sri Lankan newspaper, like here and I realize that this is what much of Sri Lankan society expects of women. Sod the career thing, forget about an identity and any thoughts of success that don't begin with

"isn't she married to......?"

Oh no, the important things for a modern woman are to keep a house ready to receive an unexpected guest. If you'd like to save time and not read the article I'll give you some highlights:

1. Keep a jar of iced tea ready in the fridge and have a plentiful supply of lemons around.

2. Have a load of cookie dough in the fridge at all times. Then, when the doorbell rings, you can make cookies for the unexpected guest and clearing up only takes about 15 minutes.

3. Set aside a place in the house, ideally a whole room, that's always tidy and presentable for entertaining.

4. Keep a nice CD ready in the CD player at all times. Then, when that doorbell rings, you can press play as you walk towards the door and the visitor will be greeted with a nice soothing blast of Mimosa when they walk into the special room you've set aside.

I'm sure you'll agree that these tips are useful and practical for today's busy woman. After the guest leaves you'll have plenty of time to cook dinner for your husband too. Later on girls, if you're lucky, he may let you have sex with him too.


Darwin said...

If guests can't be fucked to check if I'm available before ringing the buzzer, then I can't be fucked figuring out how to entertain/feed them.

Pink Mist said...

Grrrrrrr..... about sums up how I feel about that. Would love to slap the writer into his/her senses. Iced tea and cookie dough? Are you kidding?

bogzy said...

he he ..
luv the last line :D

Anonymous said...

i think if you have lemons you should make lemonade.

what is all this ice tea nonsense

Charmed said...

You gotta be fucking kidding me!!Cookie dough and ice tea??!!!

Jack Point said...

The writer of the article is an American, hence the unusual menu.

There is a biological difference that prepares the sexes differently to parenthood.

Different things work for different people but in principle a woman should not be forced to give up a career and stay at home or take a slower career path unless she really wants to.

Mumz said...


You should write a column for these papers!
your version was much interesting than the article you've linked there!

On a serious note, that's exactly what's promoted, if you go through one of those women's papers, they are all about sewing, cooking, gardening, handicraft, bringing up children, keeping things nice and tidy etc etc!! It would be much better if they talked a bit about self-defence, legal rights of women, career prospects etc for a change.

L said...

The west has a little less far to go. As Jack Point pointed out article sounds american. Maybe Martha Stewart?

I was surprised when I saw the results of a survey some time back that stated that asian women in Britain earn on average more than white women. This probably is due to socio-economic backgrounds rather than racial backgrounds of these women.

Sometimes we do forget some of the realities in the west.

This doesn't negate your point that Sri Lanka far to go.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

L - Yes, it is an American article, but I saw it in a Sri Lankan paper.

It raises an interesting judgemental question for me on whether SL has far to go. Who's to say what is right or wrong? I know what I think but many men and women really do believe that women should be in the home having babies and cooking.

Bea said...

Hmm RD you are the man who took his daughter's dirty trainer (dog poo I believe) round to her mother's place rather than cleaning it where it was ;-)

I do think that SL does have problems regarding its attitudes to women (for example no legal recognition of marital rape unless the women is 14 years old or younger) but the UK is far from perfect too.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Bea - I did that purely because they have an outside tap there, something I don't have the luxury of. The intention was for my daughter to clean the shoe, whether at my house or her mother's.

Yes, I think the UK is far from perfect but I think it's closer to my ideal, at least in terms of the way women are treated and all.

L said...

Didn't want to get personal so am posting this separately for you to decide. I think you did mention you only started cooking recently. I am sure your intentions were honourable, but clearly there are things you have taken for granted. Even among women in the west, it is almost assumed that they will be able to keep house, unless they are rich and can afford hired help. Men also have to do it these days, but a smaller proportion I would think. Same goes with being the primary care giver.

L said...

Think you need to read more women's magazines in the UK or many other western countries. You will get some useful cooking tips. Haven't seen much of that in Men's magazines.

Agree with Bea's point about legal rights for women in Sri Lanka. That's what I meant by Sri Lanka has far to go. Besides that, I agree with you about not being judgemental.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

L - In my case, in my marriage, I didn't assume my ex wife would do those roles at all. We decided some years ago that my main role was to work and build my company and she gave up her carrer to stay at home.

I honestly feel that I didn't expect her to do that nor did I push her into making that choice.

You're right about many of the assumptions and expectations of women in the west too. I think that articles lke the one I quoted would be far less likely to be published here than in SL though.

Thanks for your thought and comment as ever.