Wednesday, August 13, 2008

pedestal for sorority

Its always on my mind about how our culture and language perpetuates patriarchy in our society. Day in and day out, instances, experiences flourish which shriek how the female sex is being subdued at every crossroad of life. But it is only we as a society that is turning a deaf ear to this.

Being a person with immense faith in God, there have been times when I have been forced to question that solemn, solicited belief as well. I often ask myself why when we refer to Gods and deities do we address them as HE in general. The whole of the God fraternity is referred to as male where in Goddesses are the ones majority of people exercise their faith in. This reference is to all religions but talking about Hinduism in specific, the reverent ‘aarti’ that every God fearing Hindu child learns in the process of transgressing from childhood to adolescence to adulthood has a specific line that states “ aarti jo koi nar gave”( every male who sings this hymn). Even during the bad days of the menstruation cycle, some religions forbid women to pray. And all this is followed with rigorous fervor. This makes me rethink and ponder over the sociological thoughts when we say “sex is a biological construct where as gender is a social construction.” People might say that, since religion, cultures etc all are part of the social domain. I agree if I would be talking about it in purely sociological terms sitting in the four walls of the classroom. But what about those stories we have learnt growing up where Brahma is the creator and that god’s resided on earth. So where is the social aspect where our minds have been engineered by the almighty to think in a particular aspect and be unfair to the 'fairer sex'???

Coming down to the more intricate aspects of life, I would not like to touch upon what everyone knows about and talks but does nothing. Being an educator, I would like to elucidate on portrayal of women at various forums like school textbooks, articles in so called women's magazines etc that play a major role in setting up frameworks in our mind about women and their role. Gender equality is totally skewed in the school textbooks. I think that’s where I should start from.....pick up a grade I'll have a chapter on ‘my family’.....mind you it would have pictures....and the pictures say....papa is reading a newspaper, boy child is playing cricket or watching TV....what about the female members???I don’t think I should applaud you for guessing it....its obvious. The girl child is playing with a doll, and of the most obvious mother is in the on various occupations..... doctor, policeman, engineer were depicted by men; nurse, teacher depicted by women. There was a study conducted in metro cities checking out the gender ratio in university faculty....and believe you by far out numbered women....and we very comfortably say teaching is a soft profession....meant for women.Coming back to the point, trust me 99% books depict this....and then we talk of gender equality when we are giving such a sexist socialization to the young minds.

Media ideally should act as an agent of social change and should break these unfair and unjust images of women being treated as sexual objects and being shown as the weaker sex. But the media itself represents women as sexual objects- be it explicitly or implicitly.... No commercial advertisement is complete without a female model. It is a cliché. Can I ask why is a woman required in every damn ad be it an ad for menz products or electronic gadgets or mutual funds or cell phones.....are we that dissolute or promiscuous? Here I am not taking about one or two ads that can be put in the exceptional category that portray woman power as strength but stating my thoughts on a general overview.....The hidden agenda is to exploit the sexuality of it any which way...

By now many brows must have been raised questioning my thoughts. My view may seem to suggest that I am absolutely ignoring the rise of the feminism bandwagon and woman empowerment in our society. I agree that there has been an immense change in the past few years with the development through education. Women have become aware and have the courage to stand up and raise their voice. But believe you me, it’s not even a milestone achieved.
Its baneful but even in very much educated, high up and modern households, male domination holds strong, so much so that women even fail to acknowledge it. I would again blame it on the socialization process which sadly has a strong pedagogy for a curriculum specially designed for girls with heavy duty subjects like sacrifice, compromise, homeliness ,being a good daughter, sister, wife and a daughter- in-law and practical lessons on how to blur your own identity in the chemical emotional romance called life of a girl child. And the way the separate gender roles are rooted in the young minds is difficult to extricate. We are living in an educated barbaric society. We do not need glasses to look for these morbid existences. Its clandestinely explicit.
The case is clearly visible be it urban or rural India. Its drab, dour and draconian. My concern here is not that section that is blogging, studying in universities and is well aware about the nuances of our social existence but the remaining majority.

Who do we blame for all this and how do we look for answers.? When we talk of woman empowerment, its not a concern just for women. It’s the concern of the society in totality- not women but men as well. The desocialisation has to be equal for both men and women.
It’s the men who are dominating. True, women need to rise for themselves but men need to make space for them to rise, provide them with a pedestal. We need to understand that the gender issue is between men and women and belongs to both and unless both come forward with the fervor for change, it will be a ludicrous failure. The society will be patriarchal, male domination will exist, questions will remain unanswered. Lets not move on to becoming educated savages.We can build a society where though we may not be too sure about the roots of existence of patriarchy but we have answers to its eradication


Bhargavi sekhar said...

Type casting, it's the order of the day. We all do it, consciously or unconsciously.

state of mind? said...

agree bhargavi, its the order of the day and all of us do it whether we like to admit it or not. but don't you think we need to think about it CONSCIOUSLY as to what we are doing unconsciously.
though we have beeen socialised into it, it is we who have to stop giving mirror reflections and need to sow the seeds of change.

Meeta Mohanty said...

Bravo! I really liked your views and the questions you have raised through this post. It is high time we be pawns in a patriachal system. We as you rightly said both men and women need to equally come forward and unlearn the attitudes, biases, prejudices which we have imbibed in the process of socialization. Be it aarti's, advertizements, education, workplaces sex typing exists and that too in a nasty form. As an educator I believe that education , textbooks, pedagogy all can bring a commendable difference in un-learning one's conditioned responses.