Friday, 8 March 2013

Frailty thy name is not woman

The “mainstream” section of the world has always believed women to be an antonym of power. They have very carefully segregated women from the power-sharing and policy-making process. We live in bizarre times. We preach that women should be respected and worshipped on one hand and on the other we try all possible ways to snatch every ounce of respect from her. Women are submissive, they cannot think logically, they cannot run corporate houses, and their decision is always guided by emotion and other numerous illogical, baseless myths are deeply rooted in our societies.
You might be living in hegemonic US or a tiny Bhutan, one thing that does not change is the plight of women. Our ancestors from Paleolithic age paid more respect to women than we do now in our so-called modern age. We plant praises on us for excelling in every field possible and we do not even give a minute of our thinking to the state of half of the population of our world. On the name of empowering women we do various kinds of senseless activities and the pseudo-feminists become enlivened and think that “yeah! The women have been strengthened .now we can go and enjoy”. And they forget in the process of this excitement that instead of strengthening women they have once again been successfully marginalized without even realizing. Every now and then the modes of mass communication notify us that particular women went to the space station and made a record or other women went on to become the most powerful (politically) in the world. But do we ever notice that the percentage of this particular group of women who are breaking records is so low. Also there are so many huge incidents where women are disrobed of her dignity and her self-respect everyday and contrastingly the percentage of women falling in the latter category is considerably high.
History is witness to the fact that the arena of politics has always been heavily dominated by men. Few women have managed to reach the top most positions and even today this number remains less. There has been unwritten code which separates the area of public and private sphere. Masculinity, it is believed is suitable to public and political spaces and feminity is an attribute of the private sphere. And with this unreal separation, begins the separation of women from political life. They are made to believe that they are most suitable for a private life, a life where she is the queen of a house and has few ‘left-out’ rights. Simon de Beauvoir was definitely correct when she said “Women are not born, they are made”. So this newly ‘made women’ is not made aware of her rights and the contributions she can make to the society. She is made to believe that only when she brings few masculine traits in herself, can she achieve her political ambitions and be recognized in the society. There are many political women who have tried to act and behave like their male counterparts when in power. Difference feminists might agree with me here because behaving like a woman if you are one is not a sign of weakness, it is sign of valuing yourself as a woman.
Mary Wollstonecraft who is credited with publishing ‘A vindication of rights of women’, the first great feminist treatise mentioned in her work that “It would be an endless task to trace the variety of meannesses, cares, and sorrows, into which women are plunged by the prevailing opinion, that they were created rather to feel than reason, and that all the power they obtain, must be obtained by their charms and weakness”.  In contemporary times we have come up with providing affirmative action to women to uplift their status in the society. The Indian parliament has still not been able to pass the women’s reservation bill which will provide 33% of seats reserved for women. Let me take an opportunity here to ask my esteemed political leaders and other supporters of this bill that will women become equal or bag a fair share in the political arena. Or will they become suddenly strengthened and receive a fair treatment in the society. They might answer in affirmative but all of us are aware that this can’t happen. Give her sound education, treat her like you treat your son, and support her in times of need and she would surprise you with the things that she can accomplish.
In our country where we always act vociferous about rights of women, the political parties themselves show a shameful picture. The oldest party congress which is led by a women leader has only 10% of women political leaders in the party, whereas its rival the BJP has only 7% of women’s representation. Women are either sided to a woman’s wing group or they are made to pay heed on women’s related issues for e.g.: they are given the family planning department or the child care department. The most recent incident I witnessed was during the Delhi gang rape case. Every political party came out with their women spokesperson to offer condolences to the family of the victim and show their saddened faces which is usually dominated by men spokespersons. The scenario became more appalling when the issue was discussed in the parliament and only women political leaders read out their long written speeches whereas their male counterparts were seen yawning and stretching themselves as if they were listening to some old boring video.
The need of our times is not to make women feel as a victim or sympathize with them but to look after them since the time of their birth and be amazed with their unexpected achievements. And to all the women out there, I would like to quote Roseanne Berr, and she says “The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just have to take it”. Do not wait for somebody to come and award you with something, what is rightfully yours will always be yours.

Playing like a woman

How many women sportsperson we have in our highly populated country? In a country where women form half of the population, the representation of women in sports shows a shameful ratio.  It might be termed as the lack of sports culture in our society or the conservative- mindset sprouted idea. The problem arises with the separation of public and private spheres. Men work out, they can go around merry-making, play, and waste their time endlessly and nobody questions them. But when a woman does the same thing she is called names. Because if it is a woman she has to look after the home and her family, anything she does apart from this is mere nuisance. We might have moved ahead and put on the counterpane of modernity but this mindset remains alive somewhere or the other in our brain and waits for the correct moment to make an entry publically.
Women have never been active in sports. One might say that women themselves do not show any interest in games or sports and they prefer other things more. But with this argument shall we believe that men are born with an interest for sports. Their interest is created. Nothing is born with a child. A child is molded in a particular form by parents. Men are always encouraged to participate in sports and roam around but unfortunately the same is not with woman. The problem with us is that we have firmly accepted that so and so qualities are associated with men and so and so with women. Any child which does not follow these prevalent terms is called abnormal. Why women can’t be supported to play and play more. Will it lessen their womanly qualities or is the male clan scared that they might have a competition. It might be possible that men’s chauvinism may be at stake and they don’t want to lose their superiority. This senseless belief that men’s superiority can’t be questioned and women have to act subservient to them is highly detestable. Even if few parents do not discriminate and encourage their girl child to make a career in sports, the facilities available are so limited and scarce enough to shake one’s determination to go ahead with sports as a career. Sports are not introduced at the primary level of schooling until the child is not studying at some good public school and these schools are affordable only for few people in the society. The majority of the population remains deprived of this and they send their kids to government school. These schools run by government do not provide basic education and food, so the sports do not come as a question. The child passes the high school without any firsthand experience of any kind of sports. And then we blame on the lack of interest.
We all had seen the movie ‘chak de india”. It correctly showed all the problems a woman has to face and all the obstacles which come in her way if she wants to pursue sports as a career. Nobody provides the facilities required. The government is not interested in a woman’s cricket team or a hockey team. All they care about is men’s teams especially cricket. But that is a totally different story about cricket getting all the importance at the expense of other games. Few days ago India hosted women’s cricket world cup. And it got nearly nil media coverage. When cricket world cup men’s is hosted, it becomes the biggest news. We welcome it with great pomp and show. It is like celebrating a festival. Everyday there is some piece of news about it in the newspaper. A whole class of intellectual section comes up and starts writing about the significance of this religion and its effects. The whole session of celebration does not happen with the women’s world cup. If we leave the cricket and switch to other games the condition is more or less similar.
Then there are people who mock, who tease, and who make obscene gestures at women who go out to play. This whole group of nincompoops does not terminate their activity. Their tiny brain praises them for this shameful activity. Sports are no different for women from other fields where men have always dominated. There are numerous struggles and hindrances which come in their way. But we have to keep moving and fighting because the reward is not so great without the struggle involved.