There are many things told to young people in their formative years. These sayings, like solitaire earrings and wrist watches get passed on from generation to generation with such conviction, that the truth behind the sayings is never verified or questioned.
“Don’t walk under a ladder”
“Don’t tie your hair while it’s still wet”
“Women mature faster than men”
It might be dangerous to walk under a ladder, should the ladder lose its balance and topple over. Hair follicles are at their weakest when wet, so are more likely to break if combed through or tied while drenched. However, just as there are many types of ladders and hair follicles in the world, there are many types of women too.
If a ladder is anchored to the ground and there isn’t a better route ahead, it can be okay to walk under it; and with the right conditioner, a wide tooth comb and an anti-breakage hair fastener, wet hair can too be tied. And most importantly, not all women mature faster than men.
There are many communities within our country where women are under-informed about the important aspects of life, such as sex. Their knowledge of sex is usually a subset of the knowledge of marriage. Even in urban schools, sex Ed is barely addressed.
Not all women have the same hair type, not all women have the same body type, so how can all women have the share the ability to mature swiftly? Can it be assumed that emotional maturity, general maturity and sexual maturity are all the same? Can women with compromised education really mature faster than their male counterparts? Should these young women then be married off to older men who are sexually more mature and presumably more financially independent?
Let’s not confuse submissiveness as goodness
Even with puberty and hormonal changes, different women cross milestones like menstruation at different stages. These are subject to social and environmental factors, genetics and even lifestyle factors.
Based on this, it can be argued that the assumption that women mature faster than men can place younger women in vulnerable and unsafe positions. When young women are set up with older men, exclusively on the assumption of a speedy maturity it can force them into a life of submissiveness under the shroud of ‘goodness’. They are placed in a position of dependency instead of a partnership. When the dependency is self-elected, that is a choice, when it forced and accepted as fate, that is submissiveness.
Perhaps it is this false assumption of premature maturity that has led to a misplaced sense of responsibility among men and women. Even if the biological responsibility of childbirth is assigned to women, men and women can both be the nurtures. Countless women have given up their children into adoption, and there are plenty of men thriving as single parents.
Popcorn and pudding
For generations now, audiences have been presented with movies that feature leading men cast opposite women, decades younger than them. Even though women are subjected to higher standards of grooming and beauty, social conditioning dictates that audiences perceive women as a perishable product while men are just gifted career longevity.
In so many movies men are granted recurring roles while their female counterparts are replaced. In these situations it is hilarious to see that entire casts are retained while the female lead is alone are replaced. It’s not even that the filmmaker cares enough to write off the old character before bringing in a new one.
It will take fifteen minutes of scrolling on Instagram to see photos of leading ladies from the eighties and nineties looking as fit and as fabulous as ever; but will these ladies ever have the same opportunity to star in big-ticket movies opposite men decades younger than themselves like the men do. The proof is in the pudding, the pudding being our reality. No wonder these former leading ladies are so fit, they have been strategically kept away from the pudding.
It is perfectly normal to have men romanticize women decades younger than them in reel life when a logical story is in place, and even in real life, when the situation involves adults and consent. But that same normalcy should then also be granted when the genders are reversed.
Truth reveals itself in difficult times
When a loved one is in the hospital, all families want the best doctor to tend to their loved one. No one questions whether the best doctor is male or female, 40 or 60 years of age. Similarly, when men and women are working in offices, no one assigns the women fewer PowerPoint assignments to create based on their age or gender. Yet, when it comes to appraisals and compensation, a huge wage gap exists between male and female employees.
As women are constantly reminded that life is earmarked by age, it is important to keep the conversation about re-considering gender norms alive. When strong women not only break glass ceilings but stomp all over them, it sends a positive message to younger audiences to remind them that they learn to verify things they are told and to remember that even when gender norms are perpetuated they can be challenged.
Ask why walking under ladders is unsafe
Find the right tools to tie wet hair
Not all women mature faster than men, because maturity comes to different people at different times.