Category: Yin-yang


Inherent Sexism


Is nature sexist too?

Why would I ask that? Well, biologically there is a stark difference between the way men and women are built. It would be considered sexist to say this in the 21st century but I believe that men and women are not equal. You compare two people or tasks when they are similar. How can you compare two different genders that are biologically and physiologically created to be so different?

As a woman myself, I think it is very unfair that girls get to bear all the pain. I will explain the reason for my strong views on the subject. To start with, when a woman starts menstruating that is the beginning of a long and arduous cycle of pain, exhaustion, tiredness and related symptoms. The term ‘Oh I think she is PMSing’ is used by everyone from boyfriends to co-workers around women at all stages of their lives. That however is just the tip of the ice berg.

Women are hailed as givers of life and seen as being the one who nurtures. But all this comes at what cost to them? Childbirth is the most painful and exhausting process that a woman is likely to live through in her entire life. Why could nature not have divided the process equally between men and women?

It is unfair to put all the pain in the share of what the society perceives to be as the ‘weaker sex’. Once her reproductive life is over then she has to go through the dreaded phase of menopause. It appears to me that not just the society but nature herself likes to constantly test a woman’s patience and endurance.

The most sexist of it all is the concept of virginity. Why do only women have a hymen? Why is there  no tell tale sign of a man’s virginity? This puts the onus of chastity on women alone leading them to be ostracized in several communities for no fault of theirs.

Men and women according to my understanding are not equal because they both undergo totally different journeys in their lives when it comes to their physical maturity. The emotions vary corresponding to that as well. I do not subscribe to the notions of society that believes that certain tasks are reserved for men and others for women. You cannot compartmentalize tasks based on gender like that unless you supplement it with valid arguments.

For e.g. when I read that Indian army does not send women on the battle field I wondered how such an archaic rule can prevail even today. However when I read about the reasoning behind it the decision made much more sense to me. In a war zone hygienic issues get scant attention and a woman who is menstruating can become a liability in such a situation where both water and privacy can be beyond reach.

So the bottom line is that if you want to hold grudges, it’s the nature you have to blame. Society is just trying to keep pace with it.

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Feminism and things connected to it have come to be sniggered upon. In cities the general perception is that we have come a long way from the age when girls and boys were considered unequal. I often wonder if we really have come that far? I have been born into a family where I have not faced any gender bias so I do not connect with the feminist movements on a personal level. However there are issues that as girls or women we face that makes us feel that even now the gender bias is deeply ingrained not just in our day to day interactions but on a far deeper level.

I am going to go with this blog post into a territory that I have not written about before. Today while I was reading Times of India’s ‘Crest’ edition which had a cover story on feminist movements, I was reminded of Eve Ensler’s path breaking play- ‘The Vagina Monologues’. A scandalous name for sure but when I saw the play a year back at the Prithvi theatre in Mumbai, I was more sensitized than scandalized. The play resonates with every woman of a generation back for whom just the word ‘vagina’ would be blasphemous, let alone be something they would talk about.

Cast of the Indian adaptation of Eve Ensler’s path breaking play ‘The Vagina Monologues’

I say a generation back because our society today is a lot more open to debates and discussions. To those wondering what the play is about- I’m sure you will Google search it any way. However to still give you a gist, it is a compilation of a number of stories of women belonging to different ethnic backgrounds. The play, in a humorous way touches on issues ranging from rape and molestation to being comfortable in one’s own bodies.

It raised so many issues that we shy away from talking about but the recurrent theme was that as women we have to first learn to accept and love ourselves. Women in our so-called modern society too are victims of violence and crimes mainly sexual in nature. This is not just restricted to certain parts of the world but is a universal issue.

In a war zone women gain prominence in ways that are not so pleasant. What I mean is that in cultures across the world, a woman’s body is associated with ‘honour’. It naturally means that in a war or situation of conflict, to harm the enemy, you attack where it hurts the most. Every woman your enemy holds dear becomes the target.

‘RAPE’ is the biggest war crime according to a report by United Nations, not because people are starved of physical intimacy but because it is symbolic of hurting a man’s pride.

Herein lies the first bias. It is assumed that the man owns the woman, so to be able to be intimate with another man’s woman is to attack him in more than just one way. It is also an attack that the woman cannot redeem herself from, she merely ends up being a pawn in the larger scheme of things.

She is not punished for who she is but rather for who she ‘belongs’ to.

Being a mass media student I understand one thing. Media is a reflection of society at any given point of time. That also gives me the evidence that as a society we are opening up to debates about issues related to women and do not just brush them under the carpet anymore. One example is the earliest advertisements of sanitary napkins (yeah I’m going talk about that as well 😛 ).

The plot would be very simple. A worried girl would come running to her mother and whisper something into her ears. A crease would form on the mother’s forehead. Time for the product to make an entrance! The advertisement would then end with everyone smiling. Nobody would even use the word ‘period’, let alone discuss it. Times have changed and how! Such advertisements are now are a thing of the past and so is the stigma, at least in the city that I live in.

Biology has created two different sexes in the animal kingdom for a majority of species. Society is simply trying to strike a balance with that basic fact. We will make mistakes but eventually every society chooses a system for itself. If you agree with the majority view then all is well. But if you beg to differ from the masses, therein lays a problem. What is right and what is wrong is always subjective.

A few days back I met a few of my friends after months. After we completed our 12th standard many of my friends moved to different cities to pursue their education. We make it a point to meet up whenever we are in the same city even if that means catching up after one year on most occasions. What amazes me is the fact that even though it has been four years since we passed our 12th board exams following which we have each been through so many different experiences in our individual lives we still share the same vibe and bond. Every time we meet we take off from where we left, filling each other up on the latest updates in our lives. Nothing much really changes, neither the conversation nor the ensuing peels of laughter nor bonding over food in the process.

I cannot seem to gather my head around is the fact that if this is possible in friendship then why not in love? Why can you not live apart from the person you love for months with out the relationship crumbling under the demands placed by distance and time? Isn’t love supposed to be ever lasting? In modern-day India one just has to look around to find instances of people who live in different cities or even continents yet share a beautiful bond. Not all of them work yet not all of them crumble either.

Love as an emotion is celebrated in literature and mythology alike. A lot of questions pop into my mind when I hear about the Radha Krishna love story. Firstly since Radha was already married we are technically celebrating a divine extra marital affair! Most importantly, once Krishna leaves his village to reclaim his kingdom and becomes the king where does Radha disappear? Why is there no reference to Radha? What stops a king from reclaiming his beloved when he makes the law of the land anyway? Or did she simply fade away from his memory when other things became too important?

Even the so-called divine love seemed to be marred by a long distant relationship after all!

Theirs was a love that extended beyond the societal boundaries yet remains one that is revered for its purity

Why am I talking about all this? Well I have seen a lot of friends making choices. Choices that involves either sticking by the one you love or choosing to let go under the pretext of being practical. Different solutions suit different situations. I cannot comment for what others choose but I just wish that love was more like friendship. You could just pick up from where you left.

The very nature of love and being in a romantic relationship makes that essentially impossible as it comes with its share of attached responsibilities and moral bindings. The heart will always yearn to be close to the beloved and the pain of separation is the real culprit.

I am reminded of Paulo Coelho’s lines from his novel ‘The Witch of Bortobello’ where he says

True love is made up of moments of ecstasy and agony

I believe the distance aggravates the agony that makes it difficult to take. Nevertheless what is a life with out love? Did Radha regret loving Krishna even though they never entered into the socially accepted institution of matrimony? I really doubt.

Screwed Nuts N Bolts

"An idle engineer's mind leads to a screwed up blog."- Anonymous