The prompt began with the oft repeated quote it’s impossible to guess what a woman wants. Then there was reference to gender equality. Yes we seem to be very confused on the stand a much needed discussion, do woman want to be treated specially or equally? Do men know the difference? This is the precise kind of thing that would raise my hackles. More so when India today is hosting an entire summit on this
Do men know the difference, is an irrelevant question. For the more pertinent question would be do women know the difference do we as a gender really know what we want. Can I as one woman talk for my entire gender which faces different challenges at different zones. It is not about men treating women, but it also about women treating women. This might be kind of complex like PGWodehouse saying peoples people want people to marry people’s people that that people don’t like. It starts from creating the want.
Somewhere this journey has begun, from the free unfettered human being we have been relegated to boundaries of organized society. Well this applies to men as well, which we shall address when India Today holds a confused men’s summit.
Lets start at the very beginning , … kind of good place to start at.
I have walked this earth for 50yrs, I am from the south, particularly from the west coast where we are matriarchal and matrilineal. Our scenario is very clear,
We have a voice. If a woman does not have a voice it is not the social structure but it is situation specific.She is a victim of low self esteem. We are all educated, by the the society evolved from the 50’s to 60’s the trend of celebrating the son’s birthday as a public event and daughters as a family affair had already morphed to a child’s birthday is a social event.
Most of us were educated in the fields that we wanted to. If we did not get a choice neither did our brothers. Most of us chose the men we wanted to marry. Traditionally we had the rights to perform the final rites of our parents but somewhere patriarchy took over but it was a minor issue. And to me this entire gender thing was over done.
But last year the BBA students came up with a play where they spoke of serials like Band Baja Bharat, and various Karan Johar movies creating a trend of Mehendi-Sangeet-Kanyadaan—Bidai the group that performed this, were mostly from the Shetty community, and Kerala, the children brought out a very important point that these were societies that had no kanyadaan. But now it has become part so the girl child from having dignity and identity has willingly accepted becoming a commodity. The social evolution of this can be discussed if I can get the time and platform being right we could discuss.
This year the students have a new issue. Group 1, is a set of Goan kids, this is a real event. Goa was a very safe place for girls. Stalking was unheard of until Konkan railway came with its immigrants and tourists, not to mention the great Hindi flicks. Yet for the past month one of the girls is being stalked. She eventually accosted her stalker, he accused her of getting henchmen to beat him up. She did verbally over haul him, what irks is when she went to the police station the cops refused to accept a complaint without a male relative being present, “if you can’t get your father or brother, at least get your mother.” – the students are putting up a street play on this.
The other issue which the kids are dealing with is, at home, where the daughters are expected to do the house work, while the sons are not, the justification the mother gives is ,”Shaadi ke baad tere ko to hi karna hai, woh kyon karega uske biwi karegi” the girls look at this as conditioning, and presumption that the daughter-in-law would function on this lines.—the kids have created a lovely modern play on this.
Another issue that the students had brought up was sexual abuse at home, this girl child was abused by her brother, when she complained to her mother her mother’s response was ,”tu ne hi kuch kiya hoga.”
The last case I am sharing, is about Vandana who is around my age, she did her engineering in IIT, married an NRI, once she went to states her mother-in-law insisted that she stays at home, and mind you it is not about becoming a homemaker, it is about being a house keeper because the lady of the house is still the mother-in-law. The general attitude is why should she work husband earns enough.
I am sharing these cases hoping that something will trigger somewhere. When I did ask all these women what is that they wanted, did men understand it… this is what they had to say,
What they are looking for is a change in the conditioning of the girl child’s mind from birth. The compartmentalizing of genders. They looking for having a choice to live the kind of life they would like to live, they are looking for physical safety, and dignity. When we say society we mean the male and the female. Incidentally it is not about the men understanding it is about how women see themselves.
Children learn about themselves the way they are treated by their mothers, their attitudes towards themselves is learnt from the mother or the primary care giver, while the way they engage with the outside is what they learn from the behaviour of the primary care giver towards the secondary care giver.
So where do we go from here? to me this clipping kind of sums it all up.