On The Status Of Women In Today's "Liberated" World

7:02 pm

“Its such a pity, women are still subjugated,” I said in a rather off-hand manner.

“What? But your generation has not seen subjugation of women. They are completely liberated!” my cousin, whose generation is easily a little more than ten years more than mine, exclaimed.

I was (and I do not exaggerate) aghast.

It seemed such an outlandish idea to me that women, even of my generation, are said to be liberated. Really, I had missed that? That’s a shame, at the very least.

People argue with me, with a tone and expression of utmost surprise, that today a woman is educated, married off at a mature age, given the chance to earn a living and so on. I agree.

I would just like the reader to imagine a little girl of perhaps nine or ten years of age and her then liberal parents, living about a 100-150 years back, in India. The parents, impressed by the modern thoughts, decide to give their daughter a basic education and send her to a school. Like a boy. However, when the girl turns ten, they (unlike a boy) decide to stop her education (afterall, now she can read and write) and is married away to man of twenty (who, by the way, is in college). The girl is scared of leaving her parents forever and living with unknown people, all alone, and in an unknown village far, far away from the one she’s grown up in. She cries and begs her mother not to send her away. The mother knows this cannot be done and tells her husband that heir daughter is pleading. The father tells his wife, “But we are still better than the rest. We are liberal enough to give the girl an education. Look at the rest! Our daughter has been sent to a school. Like a boy. Now, marriage has to be done. She is ten years old already. Social customs must be followed.”

Compare this with a widow’s situation (again a 100-150 years back in time, in India) who is not allowed to wear colorful clothes or ornaments of any sorts and is made to live the remaining of her life thinking she’s a damned soul and who’s mother & father & sisters-in-laws tell her they are liberal: “In our times, such women practiced sati. Now we give you an equal status.”
I am sure, being an even slightly intellectual person, you must have seen the underlying irony in the two cases I have constructed. Women are being subjugated in both the cases, but this subjugation is not identified and is even promoted as a liberal outlook because things were even worse five years back.

People a 100-150 years down the line might just have brains enough to say that about us. That women today (2008) are educated, yes, married off at a mature age, yes, earn, yes, but still do not have the same status in the mind of people that men by default, of having a Y-chromosome, have.

A bad driver on the road must be a drunk guy or a woman. A gossip must have spread from female agency. A woman must be in a higher position because of reservation and quotas. Two male best friends must have had that fight because of a woman. Families break because of women. That dumb question must have been asked by a woman.

If you claim to have never have heard even a single question out of this list, or a similar one in the league, you are either not from planet Earth or are among one of those men who make those allegations about fifty times a day.

Do you call this equality? A woman--a sane, rational, sober woman driver-- being compare to a guy in a drunken hue. That women must still be “protected” and incidentally, by men, from men. That when a crime against a woman takes place, the first questions that pop’s into the majority of the population’s minds is how was she dressed? (I mean, if a guy is dressed up in hideous bright orange pants and has the Tere Naam hair-do, will it justify me slapping him? No!! Then why does it justify crime against women?).

Is this liberation? Or just the Patriarchal order still telling us women that its okay, we’re liberal, look at how women were treated ten years back?

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