The first time I bought a house, it was a smooth experience. As smooth as it can be. I was pregnant and looking to move before I had the baby in about 3 months. I must have seen about 10 houses with my husband and was tired and ready to give up already. Then the “love at first sight” happened and I found our dream house where I wanted our baby to be born. Sounds Normal right. Yeah! It did to me too! But then life happened, got divorced, moved out and now am selling the dream house where my baby was supposed to grow up. So when life give you lemons, you make lemonade (no strike that—I will take lemon vodka please).
Run Around- Round 2- Now I am again buying a house, albeit as a single mom- who is over her head in many many many ways…and my experience of house buying has been anything but smooth. Now this may sound as a complaint to many, but it is not. I understand that it is a hard process for all parties involved and I am not talking about negotiations and the rest. The logistics are overwhelming, but not unmanageable.
It is about the powerful absence of a man by my side. Back home in India, whenever I set out to do something and if faced with a problem, I would turn to my dad and one way or the other- the problem got solved. No, my dad is not a miracle worker, but he did have a power. The power of being male. Here in USA, till I was married to my ex- my problems did get solved- in their own way- because HE solved them. Now, remember, I was there side by side, his equal – matching his foot to my foot- but never in the drivers seat. Some for my own reasons and some for the subconscious reason that I knew he would solve the problem “because he was better at it”.
However, now, when I am buying the house, and TAKING the exact same steps as I did when with him- no difference in the precautions and the measures at all- my experience of problem solving is different. And it is not any major differences in the surface, but many many subtle differences – some I can’t even name or put a finger on. It is in the how – the many real estate agents treated me, it is in how my current landlord treats me, and it is how the negotiations went through. It is something unique which I do not have strong evidence of – but is linked to my femaleness – something where I feel a power differential and is very subconscious and pervasive in the behavior of all parties involved.
While I could name the phenomenon with many labels, the only explanation, that sits well within my understanding of the world is the absence of the male presence with me. Whether it was my father or my husband, or my boyfriend or brother- my experience of navigating the world is different and even better versus when I am navigating the world on my own. On the surface – this may appear as a “so what”. But it is not a “so what” question. Perhaps, the real question is to ask – WHY is my experience of navigating the world different when faced alone vs when with a man?
Then comes the question of the power of money- how money and male privilege are connected? Women have been seen as second class citizens as time immemorial because of their inability to be financially independent. This fact is subconsciously engraved in all of our heads – both men and women alike. That is why even women treat other women like second class citizens. That figuratively women have never been connected with the power of money, their ability to earn their own money and sustenance, and their ability to live their lives on their own terms. That being a single woman is automatically qualified as weak and unable to “carry on” the state of affairs. Heck, even I am new to it, because many other single women I knew back home and here- did not or do not earn for themselves, but rather survived because of father, brother, boyfriend etc
What is the solution to such a pervasive, and invisible problem? What is it that will change the consciousness of the world around us? I sincerely believe that the answer does not lie in one solution, but a complex set of solutions. A set of solutions wherein there are more and more women in positions of power and authority. That all the women are able to sustain themselves financially. And this is NOT TO compete with the men (we all have own own problems to solve and competing isn’t one of them). This is to actually show and believe our own selves- to engrave in the identity and consciousness of the modern world – that we too exist as human and not just as women with the full ability to “hunt and gather” for ourselves and our survival. It is essential that we make a undeniable identity in the modern history. Take a look at our classical history – where all the brave women in all walks of life have been and remain unnamed, where their acts have not been honored- it is more of a revisionists history- where women did not exist. We owe it to ourselves and our daughters and our sons, to be at the frontiers of whatever drives our passion, and not be distracted by the labels of fashion, and beauty, masculinity and femininity,….to be there and do whatever it takes to break this invisible ceiling.
The world is currently at war – it is at war with self- the war is not between the genders- but in the way the genders have been perceived. It is in the consciousness of the world – that places and burdens the men with facing the world without their humanity and on the women who are forced to face the world with the external standards of prettiness and beauty. Both extremes – both not allowed to owe our humanity and both disowned by our experience of the world.
So let us owe the world- let us become fully human – beyond the social construction of gender and privilege – become the face of humanity in OUR EVERY SINGLE MOMENT OF EXISTENCE.