Posted by Taniya Roy
Fans of ‘Father of the Bride’ in the house, anyone? The 1991 re-made comedy/romance with the adorable Steve Martin in the lead?? Not a hard-core fan of rom-coms this one, but one particular scene from that movie, I must say, made an impression on me good enough, that I am starting this otherwise-serious article referring to it.
So, Kimberly William’s Annie in the movie, who was soon to marry George Newbern’s Bryan, got a blender as an anniversary gift from the later-proved-to-be-inculpable husband. Now, this was just shades before the D-day. Things escalated fast, Annie freaked out, referred to the blender’s ‘1950’s get-the-wife-a-blender’ undercurrent, and the cinematic tension snowballed.
The rest of the movie was funny, however, what’s not funny is the question which arises next – did Annie overreact? Marriages do stand for two people starting to live more permanently together, and that does necessitate day-to-day utility stuff be bought and exchanged.
I know, a gift is a gift is a gift and that not everyone is gifted BUT, I feel, there is a unconscious gender stereotyping that runs deeper in our psyche every time, we gift a woman a pressure cooker, a hand blender or micro oven bowls for that matter.
Then, why so much fuss?
Would Bryan react the same way, had Annie gifted him the blender?
Maybe yes, if there was such a thingy as the ‘1950’s get-the-husband-a-blender’ with a sense of derogation and doom looming all over it.
Or maybe not, if he had a favourite go-to smoothie too that he loved to blend and often. In the movie, Annie apparently loved banana shakes and hence Bryan’s choice of gift was granted bail.
Now, would Annie had bought it all as an anniversary gift for Bryan or it, is completely between her and Bryan.
I know, I know…it’s a movie, but if in a movie, a woman can be shown to care so much that when her prospective husband, who is supposed to know her the best, gives her a piece of kitchen and this becomes one of the reasons why she decides to cull the wedding – just imagine, how disappointing some gifts can be!
Blenders and hot pots in loads and buckets from well-wishing, unsuspecting acquaintances, anyone?
Come, let’s try another lens.
Raise your hand if you are a woman. What is the first thing that comes to your mind, when I say “Happy Birthday!”? Cake? Candles? Greying hair?!
Ok, let’s just stick to birthday gifts, shall we?
I’m brazenly confidently sure that books, handbags, perfumes, chocolates must have been finding their ways to you since you learnt the word ‘birthday’. But, amidst the worldly crafted, neatly wrapped boxes, can I dare say, a pressure cooker or two have also made it to the A-list sometimes!
The culture actually spirals down deeper. I spent a large part of my childhood playing ‘ranna-bati’ with cute kitchen utilities made of clay. Broke the pieces every year, sometimes deliberately so, so that new pieces found their way home. The point is it’s the same with social norms too. I would love to believe that whoever handed me the sangsar playthings did not do so because they believed girls are destined for it.
If yes, then voila! You have made it to the club.
Now, I am strictly not saying that pressure cookers cannot be good gifts, worldly crafted or neatly packed. They can be all that and much more especially for the budding masterchefs, the culinary artists or even for the everyday muggle with a home full of leaky cauldrons. But, what about the other – the mass mahilayein? I know, a gift is a gift is a gift and that not everyone is gifted BUT, I feel, there is a unconscious gender stereotyping that runs deeper in our psyche every time, we gift a woman a pressure cooker, a hand blender or micro oven bowls for that matter. This particular psyche that most of us are not even consciously aware of, that kitchen essential is an item which can be safely gifted to a woman.
But then, ask yourself, would you ever gift a pressure cooker to a man unless he is particularly interested in cooking?
The culture actually spirals down deeper. I spent a large part of my childhood playing ‘ranna-bati’ with cute kitchen utilities made of clay. Broke the pieces every year, sometimes deliberately so, so that new pieces found their way home. The point is it’s the same with social norms too. I would love to believe that whoever handed me the sangsar playthings did not do so because they believed girls are destined for it. It was society and its gender constructs at large that just pulled their strings. For newer and better norms to come in and settle, we would need to break the older ones.
Women belong to the kitchen, and so do men. Humankind belongs to the kitchen, or else where is good food gon’ come from? And, as we know, food tastes best when made with love and served in equal portions.
And, oh for the gifts, gift the women you love with whatever they love. There is a popular saying, “Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
If you gift a woman, a blender and she gives you gaali (in her mind), would you derive the said happiness? No.
If the pressure cooker is THE gift for her, so be it. If it’s a 12-year old single malt for her, so be it. If it’s a gun as well, so be it. Ok, just may be scratch the last part, may be.
The point is –
Dear Society, it is difficult as it is losing weight, being stuck at home, of late. So, the weight of your bullying thoughts and notions may be non-essential to continue dragging to the post-disease era (whenever that is).
Featured Image Source: International Housewares Association