Tuesday 15 September 2015

Do women want to be treated specially or equally? Do men know the difference?

Women! The most talked about, debated, interpreted and empathized lot in the country. As if she was a newly arrived accessible-to-all product in the market! Almost everyone around seems to be having an opinion on her. Why just opinions? Many actually have an unverified judgment to pass about her being. If she stands for other women, she could be a fame-hogging damn feminist and if she condemns them, she may pretty well be an enemy of her own clan. If she’s well-read and voices boisterously, she is a maligning image to traditional sophistication of Indian woman persona and if she is illiterate, she is a self-proclaimed victim who deserves to suffer in wrath. If she looks hot and sexy, she quite possibly is an over-ambitious vacuous girl who uses her body for malicious favours from successful men and if she is laid back in bed, darn her for not satisfying her man’s desires.

Nevertheless, this article is not a rant about what laments have been put by society on women since ages but about why such laments have been put on her without her consent or approval? Did anyone care to ask her when and how far a victim she considers herself to be? Or did we rather believe the media circulated stories, word-of-mouth or the exceptional wisdom by self-established advocates of womanhood who claim to have read her mind and have spoken on her behalf?

High time! Let’s bust the myth. Most of the women I have known, from school to employment, from middle-class homemakers to liberated young lasses, from empowered ladies leading NGOs or start-ups to the ones who are marginally labeled off as hailing from ‘underprivileged society’, have mostly been mettlesome women of steel and valor fighting a hard day’s battle but without any dash of self-pity. Even the ones who tire day-in and day-out to get daily meals for the family by doing dishes in others’ households when their drunken husbands lay off under sun, refuse to think of themselves as a ‘poor wretched thing’. They work hard and inspire harder their children to redefine their forthcoming future.

So even when women do not feel as victimized, as weak or as slanderous as she is made a subject to talk about, the stories of her pain and discomfort do more rounds in our society than the tales of her courage, strength and endurance. The worrisome question is why at all do we want to see women as utterly victimized and marginally unsecure section of the society who can hardly fight a battle solely on her merit? Is she really that frail or does thinking of her as ‘weak’, when she is not, act like a soothing balm on a patriarchal mentality of a nation?

In a way, the proposition that women desire to be “treated equally” is actually downright ridiculous. It assumes that men are born or become superior to women who need to be pushed upwards to match their level. Which is also to assume that men and women are like rats and cats in a race who eventually have to battle each other out to reach the finishing line first? Seriously hilarious an assumption to start any emancipation from!

A woman is like a special piece in a big jumble puzzle. Special not because she is an alternative gender but because every other piece in the puzzle of society, including a man, is as special and important to arrive at the best fit. The very question of an equal, similar looking, ditto piece just doesn’t exist!

Most men know this. Those who do are the ones who have helped women complete their struggling journey in a most dignified manner in past many years otherwise there is no other thinkable way in which the race has progressed so far helping and nurturing one another.

And of course, there are men who don’t know. And also some who don’t want to know. Such number may be miniscule. Like men, who want to live in a self-spun myth of masculinity in which women will be the ones who would always perform Karvachauth for their long life, tie them a Rakhi pleading their protection or be the carrier of their surname’s legitimate child in their womb. There would always be few macho men who would not squirt an inch to ill-treat, harass, exploit or banter women to establish their supremacy and some who would not mind taking avatar of a Messiah on constant alert to save the poor, hapless fairer creatures. Honestly, it is best to let them be and move ahead with the progressing ones.

So what if a certain group distorts the puzzle of gender balance, has it not always been a few good men who have changed the rule of the game?

Women are as much a smart player. I refuse to think of my gender clan as self-pitied, victimized or sufferers of someone else’s malice waiting for positive discrimination to change their lives forever. To voice or assert for rights of one’s dignity, safety or opportunity is not the prerogative of any gender in particular but rather a movement of humanism. No matter how much level playing field one may fetch for women, she never aspires to be known for her gender but be valued for her ability, competence and courage.  

And like it is said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Both men and women know that just right.
[I’m blogging for the India Today Woman Summit 2015 #WomenPower activity at BlogAdda.”]

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