Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A bird forever caged does not know it can fly.

Adithya Mallya

When I think of women’s rights, I think of freedom, I think of independence, I think of liberalisation.  To understand what needs to be done, one must gauge the extent to which the above mentioned criteria is fulfilled.
A Bird forever caged does not know it can fly

Are women really free? Are women really independent? Are women really liberated?

It was sometime back while babysitting a male and female cousin (on separate occasions) of mine that I realised the problem is quite deep rooted. While the male child is encouraged to pursue a career and gain the skills required to excel in it, the female child is taught to dress pretty and look her best in every occasion. She is not allowed to play in sun for fear of tanning, in some communities she isn’t even allowed to gain a full education. Marriage is brain fed to the female child from an early age as though that is the ultimate goal, which is what she should strive for, to find and to keep a ‘man’ who will provide for her. I have always had an issue with this, considering myself lucky to have studied in a co-ed school in the era of non-Hindi soap operas on TV, I always knew women could do the same things men could. Just switch on your television for one minute and watch the filth that the lonely homemakers are subject to, probably the most impressionable and influential people in the upbringing of a child. The fight for women’s rights goes back a millennia every half an hour a television is watched. Somehow there are no campaigns to ban these shows but complete furore over a sexually charged advertisement. In my opinion, a camera focussing on a women’s breasts or derriere is not the problem. A show, focussed on how a woman wants to find a man who will not only look after her, but her parents as well, is a problem. It reinforces the belief that she isn’t capable of doing it herself, her dependence on a man is essential.

Take a look at all the religions around you, every single one of them, they all breed a sense in people that women are in some way inferior. This has not always been the case. Old Hinduism, for example used to preach equality of gender, where women were required to work for a living. Why did it change? Why is it that every religion from 500 B.C. became male centric? They all cast gender based roles onto society. Religion is a great evil for women world over. Every religion claims it’s scriptures to be the word of God. Well, in that case God is a sexist, it’s time people said that openly.

The word that haunts most women all the time however is not “Religion”, but “Culture”. “It’s against our culture”, I’m sure everyone has heard that at some point in the last week. Convenient it must be that this “culture” does not apply to men. Jeans is ok for a man, not for a woman, it is against our culture. Shorts is ok for a man, not for a woman, it is against our culture. Smoking is ok for a man, not for woman, it is against our culture (not endorsing smoking). Drinking alcohol is ok for a man, not for a woman, it is against our culture. The list goes on.

In no way should the yardstick to gauge women’s rights be rights that men enjoy, although it’s a place they should reach before gaining full liberalisation. Men curb their own rights in their own way, but that is a different debate.

 Adithya Mallya is from Bangalore, India.