We are not asking the right questions
Of late, there has been a lot of heated debate and discussions on the position of women in our society, and when I say our, I talk about the world, since the globe has been reduced to a small village with the advent of technology, cutting across social, cultural and ethnic barriers. We come across numerous activists and organisations that are valorously willing to stand up for the cause of women’s rights and help them find financial, social and legal positioning in the society, on substantive terms. But, all talks on gender equality, and bridging the disparity between the male and female sexes, have a large, gaping loophole. It is nothing but the general lack of awareness about concepts related to human rights, and more specifically, women’s rights. A large part of the global population is yet to learn about the importance of fighting for human rights, and why the time has come to talk about addressing these issues in the most astute way possible.
Communication is the key
Terms such as ‘feminism’, are often berated and condescended by people who misinterpret the term to be a catastrophic war between the two sexes, where women want the upper hand, by playing the victim card of being the bearers of generations of abuse, violence, and discrimination. When a student of my university was asked to explain the meaning of feminism, he simply replied that is was ‘women hating men’. And I was not a least bit surprised, since this was sheer lack of awareness. We are living in a world which is dismissive of the existence of a middle ground; where things are cordial, where people agree to disagree, and where people are allowed to discuss their understanding of concepts which can be debatable. I met that person after class and politely explained to him the meaning of feminism (by breaking it down to roots!). After an initial period of belligerence, he finally agreed to the reasons I put forward. I am not saying that everyone will agree to what you have to say, but trying to understand a person’s viewpoint, and analysing where it comes from, can help us effectively communicate, especially on such controversial terms.
A ray of hope beckons
The TIME magazine bestowed the coveted ‘Person Of the Year’ title upon the ‘Silence Breakers’ who took that giant, decisive step of exposing monsters like Harvey Weinstein, who thought that they could get away with violating and feeding on the dignity and insecurities of women, thereby reducing them to a state of absolute destituteness. A total of 84 women, who came out with their horrific accounts of encounters with the disgraced media mogul, had to repeatedly justify their stance and explain to the world why their stories were so alarming. They were persistent, straightforward, and cogent about what they had to say, and the world listened, petrified and aghast. Once again the debate about gender equality took centre stage, with both sexes slandering each other, though the intensity and the acrimony had reduced to a great extent. Does this mean that we are slowly heading to a time where cordial dialogues, discussions, and deliberations will conveniently sort out issues? The optimist in me loves to believe that, but that rationalist part of me tells that we still have a long way to go before this time dawns upon the horizon. Sex education should be mandatorily introduced to adolescents, in an effort to normalise the concepts of human physiology and eradicate all sorts of ludicrousness that are associated with the disparity between female and male physiology. We as a society also must shatter stereotypical, archaic outlooks that have always shown women as docile, fragile and helpless creatures, whereby women scientists, doctors, air marshals, wrestlers, engineers, sportspersons, and executives become an object of rarity and therefore of wonder. With unimaginably brave women like Malala Yousufzai tasting success in imparting a sense of responsibility of educating and empowering the girl child, in the supremely conservative communities that have always despised the concept, things do look good for us in the near future. Our efforts in spreading the word of ‘Why Gender equality is a not a privilege but a necessity that everyone, irrespective of who they are must be entitled to’ if coalesced, and projected onto the right avenues, will one day let us savour the fruits of our labour. All we need to do is hold hands and march on