Capturing the Ceremony of Caring

Updated: Jun 2

Care work is undisputedly seen as feminine, be it in cases of mother and children, or air hostesses and passengers. Supported by Kolhberg’s model of care. Opposed by Carol Giligan, whose opinion stands that men and women ‘perform’ different forms of care.

A developed feminist perspective, provides that care giving must be categorised as a ‘job’ and not just ‘work’, and further should be performed irrespective of gender, categorizing it as feminine or masculine is opposed to the destructuring of persisting societal biases.

One of my close friends, an asexual human male, exclaimed that he was exhausted with the life that is. The burden of social expectations is definitely hard for someone with an autism spectrum disorder. All his 25 years of life Chetan did things he was told to, he ate whatever he was served, he went wherever he was told to. Not an inch of dissent. The dissatisfaction in his statement did not reach his face. He had a consistent slight smile, and was always agreeable.

If not for Covid, I wonder if I would ever really have discovered the expressiveness that was hidden in him waiting to burst out. It is rather shameful that the persisting societal frameworks have barred beautiful possibilities of performativity (reference is made to Judith Butler’s theory).

His social media is blank save for a few anime posts. He never really appeared to have a lot of friends, except if you found his profile on Quora, you would marvel at his capacity to care.

Chetan exclaims: “I don’t punch girls!”. A remark marred by patriarchal obsessions of gender divide, the very same that sees women as weak and submitting to males their only right.

When I trail on a conversation about human commodification being a means to earn a living. Which as may be argued, is circumvented under Right to Life.

Over the past months, he has developed the habit of typing his self thoughts out aloud. His way of expressing the emotions he thinks he shows in real life… pre pandemic life rather.

The sink in virtuality, made him wallow through his thoughts, and explore himself. He discovered he wanted to love a child, teach her to be whoever she wants to be. His desire for a female child, strains from his desire to not conform to the gendered social spatiality, that prevents him from crying. He expresses his anguish in not being able to express his sadness in words. It only perhaps gives him a moment of peace. Carrying his burden of expectations of ‘biradari’, he toils a nine-to-five.

Chetan still lives with his parents you see. The ‘ideal’ son, who stays because he loves and cares for his mother, is blinded by ‘Putra Moh’. Chetan tells me he wants to run away to someplace where his future child will not be bound away in the same strings of egoistic familia, and futile future of high paying jobs, over dusky dreams.

He tells me he is scared that he wouldn’t be able to empathise over periods. His text brings a happy tear from my eyes, a glimmer of hope that maybe all is not lost, maybe there is hope that someday a poor child somewhere will get this love, and grow to be independent and live freely.

The next day, his texts inform me that the adoption laws would not allow him to adopt a girl child. My head swarms with thoughts of being raped by a paternal figure runs through my head. As a woman, the instinct lies to think of possible sexual harassments. ’Safety first maybe that’s why…’ I try to reason with the law. Prevention is better than cure afterall. Then my thoughts flow to Chetan, he has never batted an eye at women. Let alone feel any sense of sexual attachments towards anybody. I know he would help a stranger the same as a friend in a heartbeat.

All of a sudden my justification of the law vanishes. I question should there not be exceptions? Why is only being single and male the only parameter for the barrier? Should a person’s sexuality not be a parameter in place? What happens if a woman is a pedophile, will that save that girl child?

-Subhanjali Saraswati

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