The past few weeks have been quite frankly, disturbing to me as a woman. Like probably most people on this planet, I’ve been following the US Presidential elections and the news it throws up makes me very disturbed. It also doesn’t help that my Facebook feed is filled with news about the elections and mostly about how one of the candidates is so misogynist about women in general.
Then I read another bit of news, this time from India. Apparently, a couple who applied to divorce has had a judgement from the Supreme Court that because the ‘woman was trying to separate the man from his parents’, divorce should happen. What was so wrong about this judgement was the judge who decreed that after the wedding, in a marriage, when a woman said she didn’t want to live with the man’s parents, she is wrong and this is against the Indian, Hindu culture and so the man asking for a divorce is right and the divorce should be decreed. This is so wrong from so many angles. I, along with many Indian women worldwide have been incensed with this ruling. This turns the clock on so many decades of women empowerment in the country. This belittles a woman as nothing else can and makes parents of women little less than dirt.
Yes, the world over, patriarchal traditions insist that when a man and a woman get married, a woman leaves her home, her family and in some cases in India, even her name, to go and live with someone who is essentially a stranger. A woman’s parents, who have brought her up and lived with her for the 20-30 odd years pre-marriage, have no rights over their daughter, whom they have brought up equally to any son they may have, have to hand her over quietly and when she raises any objection, tell her to be quiet and adjust and live with her husband and in-laws. In many cases, the woman who is a highly educated, career woman who has subordinates at work, has to have someone who has probably never done any work outside the home telling her what to eat, when to sleep, when to work etc.
There’s a Chinese saying attributed to Mao Zedong that says “Women hold up half the sky”. What does this mean actually? My interpretation of this means that in order for society to achieve anything, women should and must contribute their share of the hard work. Women, who account for half the world’s population (49.6% according to the World Bank), in reality, do not really account for even a fraction of that percentage.
So what’s it like to be a woman?
Being a woman starts young, young girls are told at a very early age that they are women in the making
Being a woman means covering yourselves up, just so you do not inflame the lustful eyes of men around you. Men don’t get taught to lower their eyes when talking to a woman.
Being a woman means that every word, deed and action is scrutinised, if you are assertive and know your mind, you are called arrogant and stuck-up and a bitch while a man is praised for this (as an example of this, please watch the US presidential elections).
A woman is supposed to pure and chaste while a man can sow his wild oats. A woman talking in a sexual way is a slut while for a man, it’s just boys talk or locker room talk and ‘boys will be boys’
A woman walking alone at night always has some pepper spray in her bag, but in many countries, this rarely happens as women are almost never allowed to go out at night.
A woman walking alone, irrespective of the time of the day will invariably attract catcalls and lewd glances, but a man has to never face being the object of sexual attention and feel people undressing him with their eyes.
Being a woman means having to listen to off colour jokes and sexual innuendoes at work and school and laugh it out with the guys as otherwise you are considered ‘not sporting enough’
It’s time, we as women started taking care of our kind. We are mothers, grandmothers, aunts and sisters. We nurture the next generation of both men and women. It’s up to us to make sure that this inequality stops with this generation. As we bring up the next generation, let’s all teach our daughters to be strong and not take any shit from anyone. Let’s, more importantly, teach our sons how to be good human beings, one who respects women, one who knows the line they should draw internally when talking to women. To teach our sons not to allow anyone around them to belittle women and make them feel any less than they deserve, to listen to them actively.
Most importantly to make women feel that they are really “Holding up half the sky”