“The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping of females begin when the doctor says, “It’s a girl.” Why Shirley Chisholm was indeed exceptionally true when having made the statement!
Gender equality is just a concept to satisfy the conscious needs of the patriarchal society that still exists. One would think that after years of fighting for the rights of women, protesting and blowing on the horns of feminism, equality would be achieved but let’s face it: We still live in a society where a man has the final say.
Our hypocritical society has always taught us and moulded us in an unbiased way but judged us with biases. Practically speaking, if a child fails at something, it is always the mother’s fault, because she didn’t dedicate enough time, her job obligations are more important. It is actually funny how women are supposed to know how to cook, clean, wash among other household chores. An Indian woman works her fingers to the bone and stresses herself to the extreme, without breaking but “She is not working. She is just a housewife”.
This very Indian society that I have grown up in has never failed to astound me. Hypocrisy is in our blood. Funny, isn’t it? How stone idols of women are worshiped but the original form, in flesh and blood, is ridiculed, beaten up, thrashed to near death and looked down upon solely as an object of pleasure. Why? Because we weren’t born with “the ultimate conditioned masculinity’s symbol of power ”? I would like to take a moment here and ask all these men, “Do you go through the difficult phase of menstruation? Do you bear and nurture another life within you? Have you ever done half the amount of work that a woman has to do every single day of her life? As a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and if she has some amount of energy left within, as herself?” But till she reaches to this last bout of energy, her spirit is crushed.
The major part of India resides in villages- say about 65-70% and a suffocating patriarchal shadow looms over the lives of women throughout these villages owing to deep-rooted gender discrimination. Practices like Devadasi, whereby girls as young as 12 years of age are dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Yellamma and sold into prostitution, are still prevalent. Honor killings, sexual abuse, appalling work conditions and limited access to basic services such as water, sanitation and employment are commonplace.
A 2011 study by the International Center for Research on Women, of men’s attitude in India towards women, produced some startling statistics: one in four admitted having used sexual violence, one in five reported using sexual violence against a stable partner. Half of the men don’t want to see gender equality, 80% regard changing diapers, feeding and bathing children to be “women’s work” and a mere 16% play any part in the household duties.
All in all, India is blighted by a catalog of Victorian gender stereotype fuelled by the” Indian customs, traditions and values” as we proudly state, designed to subjugate women.
Why just India, even developed countries like the United States are not trailing behind in the league of gender inequality. If people like Dan Turner, the father of Brock Turner, still exist, be rest assured, gender equality will always remain a deep-seated hope. Because “20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life” should not be the judging factor for a rapist because “his life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve”.
It is almost hysterical and at the same time, aggravating, when I think about the cheap, subjugated mindset of the people we are living amidst. So basically, it is fine to rape a woman and take away her worth, her privacy, her energy, her time, her safety, her intimacy, her confidence, her voice. It is okay to kill a child because it is a girl. It is absolutely fine to have over 98 million unschooled girls. Each year, the death of 287,000 women due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications is acceptable because this is what humanity has come to now. In the core of this male chauvinistic society, lies a vacuum- a vacuum that exists for the sole purpose of halting progress. So even though women make up more than 40 percent of the agricultural labor force, only 3 to 20 percent are landholders. And despite representing half the global population, women comprise less than 20 percent of the world’s legislators.
I would like to relate a very recent and shameful act that I had come across, not in any newspaper but in a Bangalore-based blog- On New Year’s Eve, amidst all the frolic and joy, an inebriated man had dragged a woman by hair to a nearby gas station and had ruthlessly thrashed her, all the while screaming that she was a worthless prostitute and she cannot deny him. When the woman did not succumb, the man pushed her on the ground and walked away. Now, let’s not be mistaken; there were people who had witnessed this entire incident and even the employees of the gas station were present. Why did no one raise a voice then? One man did. He asked the employees why they had let such an incident pass and their prompt reply was, “Who is she to you?” When the onlookers were asked why they had not said anything, they replied that they were of the notion the man was the woman’s husband. The brutal reality that unmasked was that humanity is very close to extinction. If they are not related to you, you can safely let them die. If he is your husband, father, brother, uncle or any other relative, he can beat you blue and black. All your pleas will go unheard.
There were several such cases of molestation in Bangalore itself. One of the victims had asked a very simple question, “Why can’t I walk alone?”. The statements of several people condemning girls about their clothes, their freedom, their independent nature definitely did not come as a surprise. Even after several women filing complaints, the Chief of city Police said that the mass molestation did not happen. There were several police officers stationed and nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.
Gender-based inequalities of position and power are long-standing with a lack of evidence of sustained progress. And there was a time when women activists had asked men to stand up for their rights but when the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. The society is dynamic, nothing is perpetual, not even misogyny, so we will fight every day. We will speak not just for ourselves but for those whose voices can’t be heard, those who have fought for their rights. We will fight till we have transformed the society into one where our voices are not silenced, where we are not denied something because we are girls, where no one can make us feel inferior without our consent. We will keep fighting till there is not an ounce of doubt left within anyone about what Erick S. Gray had said,
“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her a sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what’s given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of shit!”
I will keep raging a battle against anyone who tries to bind my spirit according to their obnoxious whims and fancies; because just like Mark Twain had said,
“What would men be without women?
Scarce, sir. Mighty scarce.”
P.S: Shout out to a friend of mine who reviewed and in the true spirit of gender equality asked me to include the men who tackle injustice as well because “feminism should include a say for the struggling men out there, who need feminism to survive because its okay to not be ashamed of who you are”.
To be noted: All statistics have been taken from officially registered websites made for the sole purpose of women’s enlightenment and empowerment.