Is empowerment snatching away empathy?

Joseph was carrying a big parcel in his hands when his hand brushed his colleague Reema’s arm slightly.  He apologized to Reema politely and moved ahead.  Just then Reema yelled in front of the entire office, “Hey watch out man!  Don’t find reasons to touch women just like that.  All you men are such perverts.”  Joseph felt extremely humiliated and went quietly to his cubicle.

Raina and her friends were standing in the school corridor.  They were girls of class 10th.  They saw their classmate Raghav coming.  Raghav was a slightly overweight guy.  Raina pushed Raghav and he fell.  Raina and her friends laughed loudly and teased Raghav, “Hey fatso!  Can’t walk properly?  Lose some weight.  No girl will want to have a boyfriend like you.”

Nita was newly married.  Her husband and in-laws were nice people.  Nita’s mother-in-law asked Nita to make her a cup of tea as she had a headache.  Nita got extremely annoyed and complained to her husband, “Am I a maid that your mom is ordering me to make tea for her?  I know you men and their parents, all are the same.  You know I can get you jailed for causing me mental torture or frame you for demanding dowry.”

We are now often asked to raise our sons well, which is very important, but in raising compassionate sons are we making the daughters more aggressive in a wrong way?  Do we really understand the meaning of women empowerment?

Here are a few tips to raise a strong and compassionate daughter, both at the same time:

1.  Never tell the daughter that “You are beta and not beti.”  Let your daughter remain your daughter.  Making her strong doesn’t make her a “son”.  She is a girl and be proud of the “beti.”

2.  Never make the statement “All men are dogs or all men are the same” in front of your daughter.  Yes, there are bad men out there, but there are good men too; just as there are bad and good women too! Don’t generalize.

3.  Teaching cooking or household chores is not demeaning.  Empowering your daughter doesn’t mean not teaching basic chores.  Teach cooking, household chores, as well as outside chores to both the son and daughter.

4.  Stop portraying marriage in a negative light.  As such, youngsters are losing their faith in the institution of marriage looking at examples all around.  This will confuse your daughter further.

5.  In-laws, especially mothers-in-law, are always portrayed as villains.  I know many women have had bad experiences with their in-laws but if a girl already has preconceived notions then its not going to help.

6.  Girls can be bullies too and quite bad at that.  Teach your daughters never to take nonsense from anyone, but don’t encourage her if she is a bully.  Manners and compassion work for both the genders.

7.  Teach good touch and bad touch to your daughters.  Ask them to raise voice against perverts and harassers.  But the girls should not misuse the power of law to get the innocent punished.  Many a times innocent men and boys are humiliated.  Often many girls/women scare the men/boys of teaching them a lesson misusing the law.

8.  Women should tolerate take mental/physical harassment from their husband or in-laws, but sometimes some minor issues are also blown out of proportion.  Tomorrow we all are going to be in-laws.  So, we should be accepting as in-laws and teach our daughters and sons to be accepting too.

Women empowerment doesn’t mean hating men, abusing everyone, or linking every other thing to feminism.  Empowerment is the capability and right to make choices, freedom of speech, the right to stand for ones own rights.  But does that mean that empowerment will snatch away the basic qualities like compassion, tolerance, empathy, and love?

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