Friday, May 26, 2017
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Cliches be damned

Challenging norms and blurring gender divisions, boys and girls are going Dutch on dates & discussing periods20 May 2017 | 1:32 PM

It’s Rhea and Mohit’s first date, and they are having dinner in a high-end restaurant. The food bill arrives. Both of them take out their share of money. Going Dutch on a date was once an exception.

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Kamaljeet Kaur

It’s Rhea and Mohit’s first date, and they are having dinner in a high-end restaurant. The food bill arrives. Both of them take out their share of money. Going Dutch on a date was once an exception. However, as girls insist on their right to eat out of their own pockets, young boys don’t dare to foot restaurant bills anymore. Similarly, the customary ‘Hello’ and bolder handshakes and high fives have given way to warmer bear hugs, irrespective of the gender. 

“When friends hit it off with a tight hug, it hardly matters whether the friend is a girl or a boy... We know where to draw the line. It’s a cold ‘Hi’ for the creepy ones. Hugs are only for friends,” explains Jaideep Gujral, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in commerce from SD College, Chandigarh.

Young boys and girls are even cozying up to the forbidden topic of periods. A few years ago, any talk about periods was a taboo. Girls used to exchange in hush-hush tones about the discomfort they experienced during periods. The sanitary napkin was a secret keep, stashed away in the deepest corners of the cupboard, wrapped in newspaper and black polythene, to be taken out, used and thrown in absolute secrecy.

“One almost felt like a criminal hiding the napkin. My teenaged daughter makes it a point to buy the sanitary pack on her own. She insists on getting it packed in a transparent polythene as she feels there’s nothing to hide,” says 45-year-old Balmeet Kaur. 

Girls have no qualms in telling their male friends when they are on a period. “We unhesitatingly talk about not being able to make it for a hangout if we are having a painful period. Boys understand. We even clear their doubts if they have any,” shares Tanisha Goel, a student of MCM DAV College.

Pune-based Priyanka Sutaria even documented her entire period on Instagram — from her mood swings on day one to the pain and discomfort later. She got a healthy feedback from her male friends as well. Some may call it an uncalled for move but it indicates how these young girls are trying to make a point. Young men are not only showing concern but also readily pitching in to share household chores. Having observed their working mothers juggle between home and office, young sons realise that it is important for them to lend a helping hand to their women.

In a recent post-wedding dinner, the groom, Pune-based Chetan Kamble, joined his Punjabi bride’s family in laying out the table and serving the guests. This was not to impress the new relatives but to break the gender stereotype of the son-in-law enjoying the VIP status. 

In another case, Delhi-based Avantika Chowdhary, who is a single child, put up the precondition with her suitor that she would want to look after her parents after marriage. Her fiancé readily agreed although it took some time for his parents to digest the proposal.

“It will take time for the status quo to change. Things can be better only if our government provides social security for all senior citizens. Till then, sons will have an edge over daughters in our society where parents live with their sons and look up to them for security in old age,” says Avantika.

However, hope floats when young mothers like Delhi-based Shilpi Sharma, who is a lawyer and mother of 11-month-old boy, says, “I don’t have any big dreams from my son. I am waiting for the day when my son will cook food for me. When he grows up, he should equally share the chores with his wife. This will help them to develop love and respect for each other.”

Cliches be damnedBy the way: Bolder handshakes and high fives have given way to warmer bear hugs
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