Women - Let's empower Women

Author: Anu Karthik / Labels: , ,

Happy Women’s day to every wonderful woman I know!

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary for this women's day- What does it mean to celebrate women on one day in a year and not do much the other 364 days, not much I say! And when we as women don’t do much to empower other women, and are in fact the cause in most cases for how society treats us..well, I am not sure where to start, so many thoughts plague my mind and I’ll try to focus on a few.

Obsession with the Male and all things associated
It has never stopped bothering me how most of the society we live in still unabashedly prays/wishes and blesses a pregnant woman that she birth a male child. Not a healthy child first and foremost mind you, but a male child. I can understand why the male child was so coveted in the past – easy enough to understand. Earning member in the family, progeny, no expenses for weddings, claim to dowry, bearer of all family burdens. The son is considered the one who will take care of parents, especially as they age and succumb to needing help. But correct me if I am wrong, it is the daughter in law or the son who *actually* does the taking care part, the tending to the whims and fancies part, the raising the children part, and finally giving up her own family to accept the new family as her own from the day she steps into the house. And in today’s world, add to all of this the paycheck she also brings home. So why why why is the female child not the one who is coveted? Should she not be the one who is a boon to have and the one whom every mother prays for? And pray why is it that a lady – who is a female is the one who prays/wishes and blesses for a son and not a man doing it? Why is it a mid-wife who is again a woman again who kills the female child.  Maybe because she does not want another daughter to undergo what she underwent? Beats me.

Marriage, Dowry and the associated
It is sad that most of our society still looks up to a lady who has borne only sons. It is sadder that they look down upon women who only have girls. And what do these women who have sons do – demand a big fat wedding from these other women who have daughters..so it is a woman to woman dealing here?! And while the son will go to any length to procure that cell phone or the bike that he wants or the romance at college that he will lie to his parents about, he will not go against his parents’ wishes being the obedient boy when they ask the girl’s parents to bear the wedding expenses. How convenient. Really? If you have not watched the movie “Father of the Bride” please do and that is the kind of worry a father should have. About the kind of love his daughter will receive, about how he is going to share her, not how he is going to afford the wedding. And to be frank what bothers most parents our generation is not even the question of affordability but the fact that it is taken for granted or assumed that they foot the bill and the groom’s parents think it is their birthright to ask for the same. Worse even is when they don’t even realize that what they are doing is wrong and in fact laud themselves personally that they don’t ask for a dowry. Really?

So it is wrong to have a grand wedding one might ask? Most definitely not. Weddings are usually once a lifetime affair and who says you should not celebrate it when those memories are with you for all your life. But how you go about it, who foots the bill and what you request vs. demand vs. own yourself will make those memories even more pleasant and will set a precedent for every member who attends your D day too.

Women – our own enemy

“My husband absolutely needs variety, he will not eat what I cook for lunch at dinner, I need to make something new every time.”

“Yes I come from a very modern family, we both work. But I still do 80% of the household chores too. After all that is the least I can do when I am allowed to work.”

“My daughter already has a daughter, I pray that at least her next one is a son.”

“Yeah, she is a real hi-fi type. Always wears make up and jeans. I don’t think she is family oriented at all.”

“Stop it! Don’t keep crying like a girl. Buck up and be a man!”

If any of the above sound familiar to you, just think about how you as a woman are putting yourself down. How you are empowering the male all the more in our society. How you personally by judging other women, are your own enemy. And the sad reality is much as we think we belong to a generation that is no longer facing these issues, if we take a moment and pause and think, it might not be these but I am sure there are other similar ones that you would have experienced. It would not hurt to stop a moment and think if each of us are doing anything consciously to hinder the progress women are making or actually helping it. Are we treating our own friends, our own children and our own parents –male and female alike? A small change personally will go a long way to change the ways of the world.

PS1: I have had the good fortune to be associated with some men and women who are exceptional in putting to practice what they preach, what they want to have, being the change they want to see. This post talks about the problems that plague us in general even in this generation and these individuals through their small ways impact the world around them in more ways than they know. Hopefully we can all be one of them!

PS2: While these touch on some issues that come to my mind, the worst undoubtedly is child sexual abuse and there it is a boon to be born a female as they are the ones in demand for trafficking, in the most pitiful sense definitely. And in most of these brothels it is other women who are the matrons who break these young minds and hearts.

While we may not be able to change everything in a day, with our thoughts, words and deeds let us help create a better world for the women of tomorrow. It is a pledge that every woman must make so that in the next 100 years, discrimination against the fairer sex will only be seen/read in history texts. It should never be ok that women are meant to be beaten and broken and violated - be it physically or mentally. And all this in many cases by another woman. And for that to change, the women must first take note and come together.

Is it too much to hope and ask that the women in our world come together so that *female* and *girl* become synonymous for how our scriptures intended us to be - revered and respected.

Things that fueled this post:
  1. This link shared by Gayathri, and this one by Bhargavi on Facebook. 
  2. Krish Ashok in The Alternative - here.
  3. These books - Half the Sky and Three cups of Tea.
  4. March issue of Spark.
  5. Many a conversation and personal experiences.


Prea Peter said...

Well summarized Anu but is it still such a generalizing world? We have come a long way and I do hear this less and less now. Having said that, am sure too many of us will be glad to observe those statements don't come in to play today.

Ruchika said...

Anu, this is very well written. having pondered over similar issues over and over, I guess I have transitioned from a naive rebel to dishearted person to finally a balanced realist. Though I can go on and on I 'll pen down a few random thoughts that have come most recently to me with the birth of my own daughter! I am strong beleiver in an egalitarian society and growing up and getting married just had a pretty darn feeling that things were not right, although I never quite knew then , what was really wrong. It just didn't feel right or comfortable. Why is it expected that we "give up" our families? Our parents. How should our attachments for our parents be different just cause we are women. Our parents prided in us the same way for each report card we brought home! Why should marriages be about "leaving homes" or girls be "parayee". (Cliched, but you'll be suprised how much you hear this, directly or implicitly.) Marriages are happy occasions, they should be about growing. You have two set of parents now, instead of one. Oh you have an older brother now! I think its easier to love this way. BTW, I get up for my daughter each night she needs me just as I did for my son. pardon me but I don't care if she's male or female at that time. I expect her to take care of me when I need her , just as much as I do from my son. (BTW if either of them do or not is a different matter!!)

Gayathri said...

What a wonderful post. It's evident that you've thought about it deeply. I study feminism, and the sad thing is once you become sensitive to these issues, you cannot really undo what you know. And the reality of the situation is pretty awful. Most of us, I mean the independent women these days, are blessed with good men(husbands, colleagues, friends) in our lives that we start thinking there is no need for feminism in these modern times anymore. Unfortunately, we constitute only a minuscule part of the society. A very large population of women silently suffer indignities and abuses.
Certainly, times are changing. For example, it's very heart-warming to see something like this:
especially among Islamic women. But India has a long way to go. You have written about how women are perpetrators of evil against other women. But that's a very limited view. If you look at it historically, it's an intrinsic part of a patriarchal society to "employ" women to uphold so-called traditions and also to keep other women under control. Eventually, this whole structure has to break down if Indian women are to be liberated in the true sense of the word. It is already breaking down. But India has special problems, more than other patriarchal societies. The Indian feminist movement has to deal with all kinds of strawman arguments( like, culture, religion, tradition, patriotism, and many more) and eventually, successfully hijack the debate from respect for women to some completely unrelated issue. You just have to read a few lines from sites like this, to understand what I mean:
The new trend is, men are the victims of abuse by women! Such rubbish just gets me into a fit.
Despite everything, I do believe things will change, since the women are changing. Feminism comes with a great responsibility for both men and women. At the same time men have so much to gain by showing respect to women. It just takes a little bit of sensitivity and awareness; the rewards of mutual respect are too huge to ignore.

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