For women, the earth is flat. If they venture out, they’ll fall off the edge. These chains however are not bounded by anatomy but by men.
Women have been given the gift of creating life. Her anatomy helps her to create and sustain life. Men, on the other hand, have been made to defend this life. There is only a biological difference between men and women. The ideological difference has been created by humans themselves. Nature blessed women with creation of life.Nurture of this life is however , the responsibility of both men and women. Nature has not endowed women with the management of children and household.
History provides us with evidences of women involved in production activities. Women hunter-gatherers are depicted in Prehistoric art. Simple societies like tribes are matriarchal. They revolve around cults of Mother Goddesses. The transition to complex societies and the subjugation of women went hand in hand. Warfare created superiority in men. They could enslave the weak. The first slaves were women. Women could be exploited easily. Religion consolidated this process of subjugation. The Shatapatta Brahmana of Rig Veda remarks that women neither posses themselves nor property. Manusmriti coins the famous line ‘Women in their lives are dependent on their father, husband and son’. There are restrictions imposed on a menstruating woman. Buddha stated ‘women are deceitful, greedy and lustful’. A Buddhist nun can attain nibbana (salvation) only if she turns into a man. In Islam, all MEN are equal. Women have to stand behind men during prayer. Women are clad in burqa and hijab so that they are unable to attract men. Even God is referred to as he.
Along with these ‘divine’ facts, a plethora of stereotypes were generated. Aristotle stated that a woman’s brain is half a man’s brain. Women are symbols of love and beauty. Women think with their heart. Gossiping is the territory of women. A woman with both beauty and brain is rare. Pink became a feminine colour. If a woman does not follow any of these ‘facts’, she is considered different. She is considered a tomboy, a macho woman! Women are seen as a category, not as individuals.
Women have been seen as furniture of the house. Children and Household are considered a Woman’s domain. Are women born to serve? Are they born-sweepers and cooks? One of the most typical questions for a girl is whether she knows cooking or not. A corporate woman, as capable as her male counterpart, is expected to do household work when she returns home. A Woman who leaves her children and husband to work in another city is looked down upon. She is considered irresponsible. Should a Woman’s dream be of a kind that does not meddle with her household ‘duties’? Even if a woman steps out of her domestic world, the concept of maryada trails along. A Woman is supposed to be in her ‘limits’. No such limits are ever associated with men. Even in a rape, it is the victim who is blamed. Her ‘revealing’ clothes had invited the trouble. The Rapist could not help it.
Are Men unable to control their sexuality? The answer is No. It is the society which does not let them to! Men have the liberty to go to sex workers. They are not blamed. It is the Sex worker who is considered the ‘venom’ of the society. Men do not have to wear any mark of marital status. It is the woman who is to be always identified as the wife. Women have been seen only as mothers, daughters and wives.
The struggle of being a woman is a struggle untold. History is also his-story. Women have tried to break free. But their voice has been suppressed by the society. Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.
The Feminist waves of 1950s-60s were an attempt to win human rights for women. With their slogan ‘Personal is Political’, they attempted to bring women out of the domestic world. Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings. It demands equality not superiority. It demands freedom. A Woman should be seen as an individual, not just as a woman.
Feminism has been seen as a threat, as a challenge to the ‘order of the world’. But it is the emerging trend . It is a liberation movement for the ‘second’ sex. It is an attempt to break free because Anatomy is no longer their destiny!