Just the other day I came across few movies, a couple of speeches, few articles and a book on women, their sufferings and the uproar which urged me to write about this topic. Feminism has become quite a derogatory word in itself not because of its overuse but because of its use in wrong contexts without fully understanding the meaning of it.
For the uninitiated, according to Webster the definition of feminism is ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities’. But does that explain it all?
I am not just complaining to the men for the ignorance, in fact most of the women are unaware of the fact that what it takes to be a feminist. It’s not mandatory that all women are feminists while men can be feminists too. For being a feminist one doesn’t have to be a misandrist, and women surely doesn’t have to do all the wrong things that the men of our society have been doing to the women since ages. This is not a battle of sexes. This is not the race of ‘who becomes the oppressor.’ With a patriarchal society we don’t have a balance, but with a matriarchal society we won’t have it either. The beauty is in equality.
Now do we fully understand the meaning of equality? Is it just about equal pays for men and women for the same work? Does it end there? Or is it about female CEOs in a bunch of business companies? Or maybe it’s about becoming the president of the country. I agree that these are huge accomplishments but perhaps not enough. There is one Pratibha Patil, a couple of Indranooyi’s and a bunch of Chandakochar’s, but the large part of the female society is a housewife, a common girl like you and me. What is the meaning of equality for them?
A girl has to pass through a group of boys/men with her head hanging down as if she has done something shameful while the boys scan her body and stare at her parts guessing the size, almost raping her with their eyes in those 10 seconds. To most of the men, women are just a pair of breasts and a vagina.
If the humiliation on the streets is not enough, a woman has to comply with the whims of the man in bed too. Having sex has never been a women’s choice, she just has to play an object in the scene, either with consent or without it. I hope we all are imaginative enough to realize that our mothers and sisters also might have been a victim of this insensitive marital rape which is not even illegal in India. So the secrets are safe behind the locked doors.
According to the UNPF (United Nation’s Population Fund) the vast majority of sexual violence reported by women in India was within the marriage; just 2.3 per cent of rape that women reported the interviewers was by men other than the husband. What does that tell us about the sacred Indian marriages? I remember we were told that marriage is a bond of the souls.
Jumping to the working women, it cannot be said that society has achieved equality in that sector either. It is considered that woman working out of the house brings shame to the family. As a result regardless of the talent and the capabilities, she has to sit at home killing her dreams and thinking of ways to kill the time between the meals. A lesser part of the male society gives their wives the permission to work as if they are not partners but owner and slave.
Feminism doesn’t mean that every housewife should turn into a working woman, but it surely means to give her the choice whether she wants to work or be a homemaker. The OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) study has shown the world that even where both the spouses are working, the average Indian women spends a huge 298 minutes on routine housework such as cooking, laundry, pets, home maintenance, child care, etc whereas an average Indian man spends in total 19 minutes on routine housework which is the lowest in the world. Men are mostly obligated just to fix the bulbs and change the batteries.
Surprisingly, the household chores are considered unmanly and beneath a man’s stature both by men and women equally. Not all but still women of Indian society feels uncomfortable if there male partners help them with the cooking or doing the dishes or changing diapers.
This all happens in front of our eyes 24*7, and still that is not enough for us to wake up. But what happens in the darkest streets of the country, can that provoke us? A question that needs an answer. Cities of the country are filled with such streets where woman is a commodity, where she is used day and night without shame and without humanity. Have you ever seen a male brothel? There’s no such thing.
Girls are abducted at a young age, sold at a price in the brothels with policemen taking entrance charge of every girl, brought up there, given hormonal injections to grow fast and carry on with the business. The child of the woman sleeps on the floor under the bed while she performs her duties for men on the bed. If you ever created an image of hell in your mind just go to such a street once, I am sure the image you created will look a pleasant one against such reality.
Women have not been subjected to objectification in just those streets, it’s all around us. She is a household robot, a baby making machine, a trophy wife, a Barbie doll. It’s a popular belief in our fair skin obsessed Indian minds that doesn’t matter what skin color does the boy has, the wife should be fair-skinned, putting her nature, her credibility, her qualification inback drop. We live in a society that prefers beautiful lies over originality. A woman has to tamper her real self for getting accepted. They have to wax their bodies, maintain their eye brows in shape, paint their faces, paint their lips and just look perfect and be eye pleasing to the men. This is definitely not a new trend, this goes way back when societies of some countries went to greater lengths to define beauty, with traditions like foot-binding in china and female genital mutilation in countries of south Africa being few of them. (I request the readers to read about foot binding and FGM to have a better understanding of the sexist society which goes way back).
With that being said, I don’t believe that other than the anatomy of men and women, there’s any other difference between the two. Women are practically capable of doing anything whereas on the contrary men may lack behind few things, they cannot bear the pain of a period and they definitely cannot give birth to a child. But one thing that cannot happen without men is this change. If men want they can help make the world more women friendly, a safe place for their sisters to get married, a beautiful place for their girls to bloom.
Note: The image used in this post is only for representational purpose.