On The Other Side Of Silence: The Subtle Irony Of Being A Woman!

Sanskrit, the mother of all Indian languages describes women in the following manner:

Karyesu Mantri

Karmesu Dasi

Rupesu Laksmi

Ksamaya Dharitr

Snehesu Mata

Sayanesu Vesya

Sadkarma Nari Kuladharma patni (Pillai)

By which, the saying literally means that an ideal woman should be a minister in practical affairs, a slave in action, Goddess Lakshmi in beauty, mother earth in patience and  a prostitute in bed and so on.

This is how women have been treated for years and years. We have crossed centuries and ages in India, behind the myth that women here, are treated as Goddess Lakshmi, the four armed goddess of wealth, often depicted holding lotus flowers and an overflowing pot of gold. But where exactly have we reached? We have definitely ‘evolved’ from living as saints and hermits to a well civilised person, but this mythical concept of an ideal woman never changed. Do women get the same freedom? Think about it. Surely, we have come from using pigeons as a source of postman to email’s and messages, but the treatment of women never changed.

The very fact that I have to say ‘treatment’ of women is proof enough that we live in a gender biased society. She isn’t a commodity; she is a separate human being who has her own rights and freedom, who never needs to ask her father, brother, husband, boyfriend, fiance, father-in-law or any male relative for that matter for any single thing. She has the right to live the way she wants to.

It is her life, it is her choice!!

As a male, we tend to get offended by this. Why not? It hurts our ego. We have stuck with this Sanskrit concept of an ‘ideal women’ only because it suits us and not her. We never stuck up with the concept of

“Tvamev Mata Cha Pita Tvamev

Tvamev bandhu sakha tvamev

Tvamev vidya dravidam tvamev

Tvamev sarvam mama dev dev”

The virtuous thing we don’t accept and keep with ourselves, but the thing which should have changed years ago, is still with us. How many of you would dedicate this shloka to your parents today? I mean, yes you love them, and for now you might say that yes you would say this for them but honestly, think of it, would you literally go and say this to them? That you are everything to me?

But this other definition of ideal women seems to have stayed with us longer, way longer than it needed to be with us. The shloka was written ages ago, we have come a long way from it and we truly need to let that belief go. What happened in the yesterday, was in the past, it no longer needs to be with us. This has been our belief always, in everything except for this matter. Sure, women have been done wrong for ages in the past, but it does not need to remain so! Change is the constant!!!!

We don’t follow the old age rules any longer mentioned in the books of Manusmriti, Ramayana, Mahabharata or any other epic or myth then why do we still stick up for this age old saying.

In reality India’s women are discriminated against, abused and even killed on a scale unparalleled.

It’s a miracle a woman survives in India. Even before she is born, she is at the risk of being aborted due to our obsessions for sons.

As a child she faces abuse, rape and early marriage, and even when she marries, she is killed and abused for dowry. If she survives all of this, as a widow she is discriminated against and harassed for no fault of her own.

Any single one of you cannot deny that this does not happen in India, with or without the statistics.

Oh don’t even start me on statistics. You say that the numbers are reducing. I don’t believe it, because the old school person that I am, still likes to read newspapers instead of apps, and every day that I open the paper, I find headlines with ‘3 year raped and murdered’ ‘Women gang raped and dumped’ ‘A 100 year old raped, found dead’. We have crossed all boundaries, my friend. The gender doesn’t matter to men, but so does the number. These psychopaths have not spared any one, they select their predators from varying ages, from months old baby to a century old woman, and they have no guilt inside of them. A little girl who doesn’t even know that she will be able to speak one day, goes through something, which she will never know was wrong, and a woman who has seen everything, has greyed over all shades of life, sometimes is yet to see something more gruesome.

Seriously, are we evolving or are we simply going back to becoming animals?

Oh, no, I am not pointing at you, I am just stating the facts. You might not have done anything wrong.

But have you stopped anyone from doing this wrong?

Coming to an absolutely different perspective. I am still ashamed to see that we still have people blaming women for the things that occur to her. I mean, she gets raped “She was wearing obscene clothes”, she gets molested, “She was talking to men on the road, late in the night.” I mean if talking to someone in the night, or wearing revealing clothes is the issue then why are men never raped when wearing shorts or talking to a female in the middle of the night?

They talk of lose values. I don’t understand what are exactly loose values? The fact that a woman wears jeans or the fact that a man stares at her in a way which makes her uncomfortable to a point that she feels horrible to be born as a woman?

For god’s sake, and it is not even about wearing jeans. Bring me one woman, who says that she wears only sarees and suits and has never been mistreated and looked upon with hungry eyes.

Molestation and rapes are an issue here, accept it, and the sooner we change it the better for us.

Come to think of it, the trouble is not only from the unknown males; the women are not safe inside their own homes. Now, where do you think the problem lies?

“Don’t wear this, don’t go there. Don’t do this.” What if someone says this to a man? Would he follow this? Wouldn’t he be angry?

Yeah? Then women feel so too. It’s as simple as that.

A man wouldn’t like to be told what he should do, what he should wear, what career options he can pursue, what is the time by which he has to get home, then how would a woman like this?

She is just another human being whom we need to respect, that is all. She needs nothing else from us. She can be secure in her own regard, only if we as men change ourselves, because I don’t think she needs any kind of change in herself. She is marvelous.

She is beyond colour, shapes and sizes, beyond the colour pink, beyond kitchen walls, beyond the way she speaks and dresses up, she is who owns power, she is who can never be suppressed. She is who keeps on fighting. She is a free bird who celebrates herself every single day.

She is the woman, of whom, some men have been afraid, which is why they have been suppressing her.

We as a society need to stop this dominance, and let her fly of her own will.

In conclusion, I would only say that I might not have brought forward any new point here, but all I hope in return is a new outcome the result of which would be a happy and free woman.

PS: This post is written form a male point of view, as a hope and belief that there are some men who think this to be true, and want to see the change which women have been dying to see since ages!!

By Moushmi Radhanpara

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Forever in Captivity

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Moushmi Radhanpara is one of my favourite bloggers who pens down wonderful prose and poetry here. You can also follow her on Twitter & Instagram.

On the Other End of Silence is a new category on my blog that focuses on gender issues where I am inviting posts from everyone who is willing to contribute. If you have something to say, whether personal or fictional, positive or negative, a rant or a suggestion, you can mail me your entries at pseudomonazz@gmail.com(Contact). There are no rejections, no prizes, no rules and no word-limits, just a platform to voice your opinions.

On The Other Side Of Silence: Being An Unwanted Girl Child

I was an unwanted girl child. I was born on the corridors of a government hospital after my mother writhed in pain all alone, on a cold January night. Except for the kind doctor who delivered me, no one was there to comfort my mother as she got ready to give birth to her third child: a girl.  My father slapped my elder sister in anger after the news of the arrival of another girl reached home. He and my grandmother wanted another son as was the norm. The society wasn’t happy with just one son. They wanted more.

My brother aged ten, came to the hospital next morning with clothes and food for my mother. He was angry with my mother as he wanted a brother as well but as soon as he saw me, his eyes gleamed with happiness, he held myself in his arms and said that I am too adorable to be thrown into garbage, something he might have heard elder people say.

The patriarchal head of the family, my father didn’t touch me for six months after my birth, but came around slowly and started liking me. He said I am too happy a child to be ignored. I was indeed a happy toddler; I didn’t know the unruly ways of the world I was born into. My mother did everything to give me more than she could afford. She sewed designer clothes for me out of old sarees, knitted fancy sweaters with her own hands. When I refused to eat normal food, she cooked special gajar-ka-halwa (a sweet dish made of carrots) for me every day. When her husband or mother-in-law taunted her for spoiling a girl, she ignored the remarks and spoilt me more, with dreams and desires of changing the world.

I hated my father for a long time but I have forgiven him for many things in the last few years. I now understand that even men are victims of patriarchy and my father might have been  a better person had he known love . He lost his father when he was thirteen, and was weighed down by the responsibilities of a widowed mother and two unmarried sisters. He had to take a loan of three hundred rupees because he didn’t even have enough money to cremate his dead father. He lived in poverty with no support and the only word he grew up with was “responsibility” for being the “man” of the family. I know, I can’t excuse the misdoings of my father just because he was poor or unloved but I believe forgiveness is more important for my own peace of mind than carrying around the weight of hatred.

I wrote “To Be A Woman” in a fit of rage a few days ago. I was angry because I found myself helpless, unable to help these women who were related to me. I was angry because right from childhood I was exposed to this cycle of misogyny and discrimination and in spite of being all grown up and educated I wasn’t able to break this cycle of abuse, not even for women who were suffering in front of my eyes. And in the recent days as the news of rapes of small children, of women, of religious fundamentalists who supported rapists became common, I was aghast, to think that we live in a world that hates its women. What else could be a reason for the amount of hatred women receive in the form of physical, mental, emotional attacks?

The government in a knee-jerk reaction amended the rules overnight and brought in harsher penalties for crimes against children and women. But do you really think that rape is a criminal problem and giving death sentences to rapists is going to deter them. Even if it does, what is the guarantee that these laws will be executed properly? There are well enough sanctions against rape of a minor but when a 16 year old girl in Unnao was raped by a lawmaker she wasn’t even let to file an FIR till her father was murdered and the case was taken up by the media. Even after the accused MLA was booked under POCSO (which has stringent provisions to arrest the accused as soon as a case is filed) he wasn’t arrested till the High Court interfered in the matter.

To be honest, all kinds of attacks against women feel like more of a societal problem. What with a man killing his pregnant wife for not being able to make round chapatis or a man throwing acid on three girls for rejecting his proposals for marriage?  What about a father killing his daughter in the name of honour? Or for an uncle to rape his 4 month old niece as an act of revenge?

I was reading this report where a rapist felt remorse for his act as the girl he raped was no longer a virgin and therefore will find no one to marry her. He was “kind” enough to offer that he would marry the girl he raped, once he finishes his sentence. The man wasn’t feeling remorse for raping the child but for taking away her virginity and making her “unsuitable for marriage”? I don’t know what type of death/life-imprisonment sentence would change his thinking? And of the millions of people, men and women both who always think of girls as liabilities and not humans.

I needed to add my own story in this post because every time I hear of women being abused, of girls being killed, or female foetuses being aborted I am reminded of my own past. I am alive today because my mother went against her own family, even though she had no moral or financial support. She delivered me alone, brought me home, educated me, and made me able enough to see big dreams. In the process she even managed to change my father’s thinking who now holds me dear and encourages me to follow my dreams.

Discrimination against women thrives because we all believe that it isn’t occurring to us. We sit at our homes, read news in the morning and forget all about it till lunch. We force gender identities on our children. We buy pink for our daughters and blue for our sons. We gift barbies to girls and giant trucks to boys. We ask our girls to be back at home before dark but we never ask our sons where they were all night long. We blame the clothes of a victim and carry out rallies in support of rapists. We enjoy movies that glorify stalking and objectify a woman’s body for publicity.

I have been guilty of doing a few of these things too. But this is what needs to change.

Men aren’t born violent biologically. They are conditioned by family, schools, peers, and media to be hyper masculine and exercise their power on women, the “weaker”sex. Even women are made to believe to be subservient in front of men and to control their own daughters and daughters-in-law. The society needs to bring a drastic change in its attitude towards women. Gender sensitization classes at all levels of education system is required along with self defense classes for women. The whole value system needs to be overhauled for the rise of a new generation free of gender biases. A lot needs to be done and it needs to be done now for it would require generations to change the culture that has been prevalent for hundreds of years.

And the first step in this direction is to break your silence. If you are a woman who is tired of being subjected to discrimination or a man who is crushing under the weight of patriarchy, and if you are able enough to fight, you have to find your strength and begin now to change your surroundings, your family, and yourself. Start now, before it is too late.

I am alive today because my mother found the strength to fight for me. Be the strength for someone who needs you. Be the light to guide the world. And in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, be the change you wish to see in the world.

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On the Other End of Silence is a new category on my blog that focuses on gender issues where I am inviting posts from everyone who is willing to contribute. If you have something to say, whether personal or fictional, positive or negative, a rant or a suggestion, you could mail me your entries at pseudomonazz@gmail.com(Contact). There are no rejections, and no prizes, no rules and no word-limits, just a platform to voice your opinions.

Disclaimer: The above post is my own story. And yes, I don’t think all men are trash.