Amrita Pritam writes,
” society attacks everyone who says its coins are counterfeit, but when it is a woman who says this, society begins to foam at the mouth..it puts aside all its theories and arguments and picks up the weapon of filth to fling at her.”
We are the forgotten species not allowed to dream and live a life we imagine. You may disagree but truly however she may rebel against established society and conventional morality a woman is compelled to compromise with life.
However independent, aggressive and powerful Indian woman may be she still has to go a long way before she is truly liberated.
In our country ‘thinking’ for oneself is not encouraged at all. It is always conformity and herd mentality. The moment a woman begins to voice her thoughts she is condemned, ridiculed and told to shut up. If she rebels , her condition is even worse.
In today’s society where many women have crossed the threshold of their home and become economically independent, they continue to face oppression and gender discrimination in some or other form. Crime against women is rampant in the form of eve-teasing, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dowry,marital rape, workplace discrimination, rape, molestation, honour killings etc. She gets out of the hold of one master into the world of many masters. this kind of independence is a relative concept.
Many women feel it’s better to stay put with the known enemy instead of an unknown one. Women continue to struggle in our traditional patriarchal society from the time they are born. She remains bound by the silken chains,dominated by her parents, in-laws, husband ,boyfriend etc.
Emergence of new woman who can defy everything that binds her and yet be happy is a painful, uphill task.
what does independence mean for today’s woman?
Is it freedom from oppression, self-rule or doing whatever one wishes to without any hindrance? Is it a life of dignity where she has her ” own space” and is considered capable of analyzing and using her own mind neutralizing the age-old male domination which is so rooted in our collective unconscious .
To me it is a simple life of dignity and respect, of acceptance as part of human race and not some scum of the earth.
Isn’t it time to raise voice against this symbolic violence of male domination ? A violence that manages to perpetuate itself easily through various channels and is often possible for the most intolerable conditions of existence to appear as acceptable and even natural.
Women in our society, especially married women and among them those who are economically dependent on their husband’s income suffer the most. Their life concentrated between the four walls of the house , their boundaries set. Anyone crossing the proverbial rakshman rekha is doomed . It’s not just an ancient story of Sita it is the story of millions of Indian women. Sita suffered because she crossed the line of control drawn by her brother-in-law and any woman who dares to as much as think of stepping out of the LOC will meet the same fate – A life full of tragedies. This deeply ingrained belief keeps many women caged to their ” limited world cage” – frustrated and helpless. Mostly resigned to their fate.
These women seem like cold embers. Seething from within but docile and fearful from outside, living their mechanical lives day after day, rotting away with religious rituals, social, moral bonds, customs and duties.
Who will find this life respectable?
The whole personality of her being is stunted.
Most of them don’t revolt and those who do , cut their chains and try to soar in open sky, mostly find it very difficult to come to terms with the dazzling ever-changing world outside. Not all women have choices and some who are privileged either sacrifice them for emotional or any inner reason. What roles are these women playing – flattering men , please them in order to survive only to be played around with and finally kicked out of houses they call homes.
I feel personally that women like me who are self-aware and have managed to take that first step towards a dignified life still lack confidence to take on the society. Years of being home bound shred the self-confidence and gives rise to deep feeling of distrust.
The very fire that burns in them consumes them.
Social taboos and limitations , even if the women are educated and living in urban society, makes them suffer emotional torture they are subjected to; of the verbal – or in the worst cases even physical violence. In many cases the reluctance and resentment with which their economic independence or earning power is accepted. They face rejection, envy, jealousy, subtle contempt and ungratefulness, they are not allowed to hold their opinions or exercise their rights. The sword of Damocles is always hanging on the heads of even the most powerful and independent of women.
The life of a woman, however progressive, educated or modern is in first place under control of her parents and then in her husband’s home which becomes her permanent address for the rest of her life. She waives off her rights of the maternal home and if the new home doesn’t welcome her she is cheated of her basic rights there also. In any case of distress she is left hanging in an abyss as family structure is the only welfare sector that our society offers. Parents shrug their shoulders and under social pressures don’t support her and she is already an outcast in her married home. Most parents wash their hands off their daughters the moment the ” burden” is off their heads.
Women are expected to adjust , compromise, suffer, make peace, forgive the offenses and injustices inflicted at them and go through difficult marriages with ” patience and tolerance” .
Their aspirations, dreams, priorities are nothing and should be put under lock and key to ensure a ” peaceful happy married life“.
Often in lack of a support system these women carry a heavy inhuman burden and the relationships crack up under pressure.
Is it that the moral downfall of our society turned many women into insecure lot continuously looking for support and appreciation?
Is it this what causes them to turn selfish and leave their sensitive feminine nature .
In this competitive world some women no doubt who get life in packaged deal with attractive bonanza understanding family and great career, love support and stability but then there are a huge number of those unfortunate ones who suffer continually and their life is nothing but a struggle to survive.
The male dominated Society wants women who sinks their individuality and drown their dreams and aspirations.
When she dares to dream most women are caught in catch 22 situation of submission and rebellion . To free herself from the so-called ” safe and secure environment” of family and home is a tough choice for most of women in India. Those who dare to break away are at loggerheads with the society. It is no cake walk for them.
Indian women , a major section of them, live a subjugated life devoid of any soul. They are humiliated, used , abused and preserved in stinking jars, they are flaunted as trophies, made to obey the commands like marionettes and barely a few break the chains and escape to live a life of dignity.
Then there is the other perspective . The male perspective which is deeply saturated with years of conditioning and domination of women. They do not see any flaw in a woman living within the four walls doing what she is ‘supposed” to do . Even if reluctantly they “submit” to her “ rebellious emancipated ways poisoned by the ’feminist ideas” she is always a butt of ridicule.
One can see why.
Mainly because they can’t think otherwise. Their thinking is limited , they are repeating only what they have seen and learned from the women in their household and community but that doesn’t make it justified , does it ?
Does it mean that the woman should be sympathetic and understanding and even after all her efforts for a healthy dialogue fail she should continue to be humiliated?
We all know women are being oppressed , we know the reasons What then is the solution?
Is the institution of marriage losing its importance in the fast paced society ?
Is marriage essential ?
Is it not more like a relationship problem ?
What about single unmarried women , widows, single mothers? Are they liberated ?
What needs to be done to the sick society we are living in?
Are all these orthodox rituals, customs, codes of conduct , so called moral values generated by the double faced society worth anything for the growth of human race ?
I ask these questions to myself and to all my readers .
What change is needed individually and collectively that will ensure a dignified fear free life for women?
Looking forward to your responses on this rather long post.