Just thinking out loud.
The status of men and women has been subject to many changes over the years.
The first thing we’re taught from an early age is equality. We’ve been taught that men and women have an equal say and equal opportunities, that girls are now being educated and have an equal chance in earning a seat to success. But my question is – why only now?
I remember learning about famous women like Rashundari Devi, Ramabai and Rokeya in my class 9 history book and how something as simple and important as education was forbidden. Education in the 1900’s was upto the father or the husband of the girl or woman. Education for women was prohibited because society felt that it was dangerous and immoral for women to have a voice and say in their own lives. These women played a big role in normalising the most basic rights. The school book even mentions stereotypes and misconceptions about women talking about what society expects from us and what we deserve. Even in science in school, it’s a taboo talking about menstruation. I remember my school teacher skipping the chapter topic on menstruation and puberty. IIt’s like a forbidden topic.
In the olden days, women were uneducated, had to behave a certain way and obey. Even horrendous religious practices and acts used to exist like the infamous sati where a widow sacrifices herself, burning herself to death on her husbands pyre. And believe it or not, the only reason it was banned was because of the British council intervening which means it took foreigners to stop this ridiculous practice and not even our own people who witnessed the death of countless women. And that’s just a dot in the book of horrors that the women of India have faced.
When it comes to schooling, the literacy ratio of India is 65.38% with Male literacy rate at 75.85% and female literacy at 54.16% as per government statistics. Female education in cities is soaring, and the situation is slightly better in rural areas. It has improved and the government is putting its best effort in educating the girl child. I remember going to a government school ngo and seeing half of the class room filled with girls. The same can be said for employment.
In all honesty, I thought doing research would add a pleasant ending to this article. I hoped I would end this by saying that things have changed and that we’ve progressed into a modern state but I came across a disturbing article that made me feel the opposite, by The Washington Post – Why India’s modern women say it’s a ‘burden’ to be female. It mentioned all the injustices that Indian women face and how they find it unsafe living in India. This took me back to all the times I have felt unsafe in New Delhi, from all the catcalling, guys thinking it’s funny to joke about rape, creepy rickshaw drivers staring and boys making inappropriate comments. I’m sure that every Delhi girl knows that she has to cover up her skin and every body part even her arms when going out in public to avoid ‘unwanted looks’.
Yesterday I watched a new show on Netflix called Indian matchmaking. Ridiculous. Laughable. It was shown in the show that a woman has no say in her marriage to a man, it’s arranged by the family. She’s expected to be with this person for the rest of her life and the fact that she has no say in it is ridiculous. The most ridiculous part of the whole series was that the guys side of the family gets to pick the girls height, skin colour, religion, background and more. It felt like a business transaction not a marriage. And yes, skin colour matters to them. If a woman is dark skinned in India then she is not worth marrying or is deemed ugly. Ignorance is bliss but if bliss is racism then I want no part of it. Another great example of ignorance and racism is fairness creams and ads. That’s all I saw on television growing up, all the ads portrayed a dark skinned person and the moment they’d use the cream- voila! They’re Caucasian! In my opinion dark skinned people are beautiful and some of the worlds most famous and beautiful models are dark skinned.
I’m gonna run through a sensitive topic – abortion. It’s considered illegal to determine the gender of a child during pregnancy. Why? This is because a girl is considered to be a burden in Indian rural households. In previous times people would abort girl child’s or murder them after knowing the gender of a child. After the decrease in the female sex ratio the government of India decided to make sex determination illegal. Rightfully done. People can’t change but the laws can.
Where do men stand in this analysis?
Everything is the same as it has always been. They still hold more power. There have been changes here and there but their lives are still comfort ridden. They still feel safe. They still get everything they had before.
The situation here is far from perfect but we are working on it. One small step at a time.