you are born with a certain set of genitals it doesn’t mean you have the right to ownership in any way, shape or form over someone who doesn’t share what you have below down there. Read that once again. There is a lot to talk about the power structure in our society and how to break free of the secret bonds of patriarchal control, hidden misogyny and false notions of battle of the sexes. Feminists want freedom, equality and independence from patriarchal society. Men want to have secret power over women’s sexuality, ambitions and life. We are making a recipe for disaster.
There was a girl in my close group of companions, she still is. One day while we were talking, the direction of our talk went towards open-mindedness of our society. She had very a different view than me which was largely influenced by a number of factors including her parenting, life choices, and interests but there was one thing we both came to conclude. She, like many other girls of her age, didn’t run on her own beliefs, desires and values. Rather, she ran on her parents’ orders and restrictions. It was thinking like doing salsa and getting to do tango when your partner turns up. Loose analogy, but see the subliminal implication, not the literal meaning. “My father allowed me to stay in hostel for a year but I used to face a lot of criticism from the relatives who used to ‘care’ about me. So I left the hostel and began going back to home from college. It was fine to get back home while I was in my bachelors, but in masters, I was very tired. First, from the classes and secondly, of travel. Just because my relatives didn’t bitch and moan behind my back to my parents, I had to do that”, she said. This is where we miss the point. Parents want their kids to be equal and seek new opportunities, but they also want them to live with beliefs that are rotten and serve no purposes. This is control at a smaller level. A girl not being allowed to stay in hostel doesn’t seem much of a deal. But when this power gets aggressive and filthy, it comes out in form of marital rape, female genital mutilation, slut shaming, dress code and what not. Not that every sort of situation will get to those extremes, but the potential to get there is always in the subtext. We have been evolved to be like that. One of the factors is agricultural evolution and takes into consideration the psychology of human evolution, but that’s a different thread. We will see these subtleties from modern perspective and not from their ancient origins.
We can dive deep into these issues from a lot of places. Let’s begin one by one.
For the most part, men are taught and raised to be strong and women to be meek and gentle. Nobody likes a woman who takes charge. An ambitious woman is a threat to a man’s sense of self. If a little boy plays with skirts and a little girls plays with guns, it is taken very seriously. We assume that it is the responsibility of a man to earn and even if a woman earns, she has to take care of the child. We are not challenging the gender roles, for that is a totally different theme. The thing that’s being conveyed is that we want each sex to be equal but we ourselves are the barriers in that equality among sexes. It begins at home. If we can’t allow a kid to make his or her choice, what sort of kid are we raising? Weak, submissive and approval seeking kid. The change has to begin with us. Many times a girl’s education is taken seriously just so that she is eligible enough to find a great husband in the future to get married and ‘settle’. The underlying notion of a man’s necessity is always there in a woman’s life. It is true the other way too, but we shall leave that discussion for another time. What if she doesn’t wanna get married? What if she adopts a kid? What if she is homosexual? What if she wants to have a life of her choice and not live conforming to the status quo? This is something we can do a little about. Even that little will bring about a change in a woman’s life.
There is always a thought in back of our heads that women are a certain way and men are a certain way. Of course they are, but that doesn’t stop us from being who we want to be. We have associated words like beauty, pretty, lovely and caring with women while handsome, dashing, strong and brave with men. How can we talk about equality when we have exclusivity in words for the sexes? This borders on gender equality and neutrality, but it is in a slightly different context. The thing I want to highlight here is that it is okay to be who you are and not be confined to the limits of your sex. Many people are of the notion that a woman in matronly by nature and a man is leader by nature. That may or may not be true. It all depends on your “nurture” and not so-called “nature”. Just because she has ovaries, Fallopian tubes and vagina it doesn’t mean that she’ll use them to give birth to a child. And just because he is tall, well-built and has commanding voice he’ll become a leader. What we do is what we are either taught or forced to do. For many of women these two factors go hand in hand. They are taught to be a certain way by society and parents while they are also forced to be that way if they don’t comply. It seems that they have choice but below the surface level of their own decisions, it is fear and control that drives their decisions. The wife of Mao, the great Chinese leader was a great seductress before she married Mao. Then she left that part of herself and became Madam Mao. And we now know what she did and have some idea regarding what happens when a woman leads. Indira Gandhi was a female by birth but a man by choice. We are not what we are born to be, we are what we choose to become. Let that sink in.
It is never is about what we feel but about how we act. For a long time it was assumed that women were “something” that men desired besides fame, status, materials and success. That gave rise to objectification of women. They still are considered a price that a man achieves when he reaches a certain level and position in the social group he is in and has something going on in his life. That’s what misogyny is in the purest sense, but it is discreet. For so many years it was assumed that power could be only be attained through the use of force, weapons and hierarchy. Hierarchy itself is a term that is specific to patriarchal systems. But there are many other subtle ways we can have power. Seduction is one of them. Art is another. Leadership is another. One more way that I want to highlight is self-reliance. A person who is dependent on self and feels competent and worthy in their self, that person is the most powerful. Napoleon Bonaparte was one of those. You cannot defeat the one who is out there to win. That’s what self-reliance is. What most men fear is not that women are getting successful and happy, but women who own their desires, ambitions and standing up for themselves. This is what is making the control of men over women weak and slowly the spell of male dominance is vanishing. Fear of men is not equality with women, but loss of being superior to them. That’s what the thing we have to deal with as men and women. It is never about giving more choice to women, but it is in some way or other about having power over those choices. That’s where the battle of sexes comes in. Men boast about their machismo by riding loud motorcycles but have egos so small that they feel hurt when their wife earns more than them. Women want to be independent but still choose those partners who are an obvious threat to their values. Nobody is heading right, maybe that’s where we are wrong.
Men want to have ownership over women, and they try to establish control. Women want to have ownership over themselves, they become rebels. Nobody wins. If we take a step back and let the other person be free to decide for them, there is some chance that the world shall be a better place. If you have a drive to compete and outshine somebody, let that be towards a person and not towards a particular sex. We can’t compare apples to oranges. What we can do is compare them as individual fruits with their own attributes in those factors that are common to them by their being a fruit, but different among them by being two different fruits. We can compare a man and woman on their rational skills when they are doing the same work while sharing the same set of base line skill that is under consideration. You can’t compare a farmer to Maria Sharapova, for that brings a sense of threat to the self-esteem of both of them. What we got to think is how we can make this world a better place for everybody to love happily without fear of being judged for their individual choices and difference. We are same but different, we are alike but unique. It is up to us to live and let live or die fighting for ourselves by not allowing others to be who they want to be. If we can let go of projecting our values on the other person and not feel offended by their choices and decisions, there is some chance that we will learn to feel safe in our own self while allowing the other person to just be them. Some great person said, “With great power comes great responsibility”. It was Spiderman. To make a shift in perspective, I’ll say, “With full acceptance, comes responsibility and with full responsibility, comes freedom”.