Saturday, October 04, 2008

What is it about the whole Women Empowerment?

I am going to write about a very serious social issue which needs immediate remedy. However, I am writing not to present a solution, which is very difficult, rather to put forth a few customs and reasons which are preventing a remedy to come up.

The issue is about women's empowerment. I could be poles apart from some of you in the views and thoughts I am going to pour down here, yet I believe it would be a worthy read and food for thought for anyone, man or woman.

Tell me, how many festivals do you know in which men fast, often oriented towards wishing "better life" for some woman? The reverse is very common, at least in Hinduism, as far as I know, women would often fast either for their husbands, or their boyfriends or their brothers. Have you heard of any guy fasting for his wife, mother or sister? Tell me if you have.

I am not against fasting, which are often inter-twined with a religious norm. It is a personal choice. But the motivation is important - important because it often defines customs in our society. Since eons when women in India have been fasting for men ever since the tender age of probably 13, how many of them actually knew why they are fasting at all? To get a good husband? Bull shit. To pray for brother's long life? Also bull shit, if fasting could increase the life span of people, then why invest billions of dollars in medical research?

It is not the fault of those young 13 year old girls who even at 25 fast, for days together, thinking they are doing some holy act (better could have been working for some charity!). But what is ironical is that, theoretically all such women are decently educated and are holding respective jobs somewhere or the other. However, the inside motive to fast or to submit to a man still exists: may be to their ignorance.

One problem lies with the flawed education system. However many degrees a woman might get, given today's "equal opportunities", she needs to have an ear to learn. Degrees don't mean anything until the education helps one to think logically, to distinguish between right and wrong based on her own thoughts and to enlighten herself. Unfortunately this is not happening with the current education system. Gargantuan degrees she might attain, at the end of the day she would go back home and keep "Karwachauth" for her husband. But, does the husband do so as well? If he did, I would know this is affection. However, things are often uni-directional.

The other problem lies with a girl child's upbringing. Parents often think that marriage is the ultimate goal for a girl, however educated she is, however established she is, however better she is from a whole bunch of men. But why? Why does a woman have to need a man to make her life complete? Why is a woman supposed to be a good cook to establish that she is the ideal woman? I don't see a reason; because I believe, my life is quite complete and any man in it would be quite redundant. I am a good cook as well and my motivation never sprang from a desire to be better known among men. Marriage should be something which can make both the man and the woman better, or the same if not worse by considering it as the "goal of life".

Parents have to think differently while bringing up a girl child. It is a bigger challenge than bringing up a guy, given the current social bias of male-domination in most places. Parents need not instill their own bias of right and wrong in their kids at a tender age. This hinders their mental growth and the ability to take their decisions by themselves. And when such a girl with dependent thoughts grows up to be 25, she invariably needs another person (possibly a husband) to take decisions for her. This is unfortunate.

The societal gender bias will never go away until and unless there is significant change in our education system and parental upbringing at home. The tradition of fasting is only one of the many such examples which is hindering women's uplift, intellectually and socially.

I went to the Grace Hopper Conference this year too and I met all kinds of women. I met the very ambitious and successful ones and I also met the ones who clamor women's rights but at the end of the day go back home and leave their jobs for thier husbands or in laws; or change their ways of life for them. Changes are fine, as long as they make you a better person or mark something good for your neighbor or for the society at large. Unfortunately this is often not the case.

I realized one thing. The hue and cry about women empowerment won't make any sense till the day women themselves realize the need for it in their lives (note, not as a social responsibility), start to think independently, shun borrwed ideals which probably they themselves cannot justify and break out from the realm of thought that they are "women" and so a different class of treatment.

May be I made some sense to you all. Or may be not. But ever since the conference was over, I have been thinking this wide and deep. And I just poured them down over here. Hope the women (and men) who read this could share this thought with me. And be better parents to their girls tomorrow: parents like my parents had been to me - parents who gave me the room to breathe, to think, to take my own decisions and to be courageous enough to tide over difficulties, should something in life go wrong.

Self-esteem, original-thoughts and mental-resilience are three things the woman of today needs. Then there is no need for any sort of empowerment.


Puranjoy said...

true true.

Munmun said...

@ Puranjoy
Thanks :)

Hiperman said...

I read this somewhere about a woman's role in a family over the years and it makes good sense.. years ago, women were confined to kitchens and homes and men went out looking for 'jobs' because it made economical sense.. it was your basic division of labour principle at work. slowly, with the advent of technology - mixies, microwaves and even the pill - she didn't have to spend so much time at home, she could go out and earn some money and even have kids whenever she wanted.

i think technology has a lot to do with the emancipation of women. the way a girl child is being brought up is so vastly different from say 20 years ago.. and over time silly traditions like karwachauth will disappear..

the fact that the divorce rate is increasing is i think a good sign and it can only mean the three things you mention - self esteem, original-thoughts and mental resilience are on the rise.

Tech Monster said...

Brilliant. A true master piece. Todays women needs to emulate your thinking :)