Even though we live in the 21st century so to say, it seems women still have to make a constant effort in order to be treated as a human being with a heart, rather than a baby-making machine who also provide ‘household’ services.
Recently, I happened to hear about a family which lives in a town in central India and is surrounded by their close-knit community. Other religious and socio-economic communities co-exist, and have a similar way of thinking about family, the woman, the girl child and marriage.
The family I am referring to consists of five; the parents, two daughters and a son. The elder sister, who is now married and has two little children, had this to say to her younger sister, who is still in school, “Don’t study so hard, you are wasting our parents’ money. I will ask mother to get you married soon after 12th grade.” (When she turns 18). It is the age when girls in India are allowed to get married, by law. For boys it is 21.
This comment or should I say a conclusion derived from circumstances she had to endure or has seen, stirred my insides.
The sisters have another sibling, a male about my age. He is still doing his MBA. Before he enrolled for the course he was trying to look for jobs but did not land one. When this continued to happen, his mother exclaimed in a sour-grapy attitude, “Boys are not getting jobs because of over-ambitious girls.”
I am itching to dissect each word and the situations they were said in, to begin an analysis. But I would now stick to just the two that seem most prominent.
The thought process that women should not have a job or their only job is at home is deep rooted and is not unfamiliar, at least in India. Apart from the men who want to suppress the voices of women, and make them dependent on them for every need, it is the older female members in a family or a unit that also manifest such ideas. The thought that educating a woman is wasting money, because all she will have to do is take care of her husband and children with her nurturing demeanor, is engraved in brains of the masses.
What if a girl wants to do all this and more, have a career, or a passion that she can pursue? What happens to the dreams of a teenager who wants to be a pilot and fly across continents? Where is the place for a woman, from an average Indian household, to become a poet? It seems as if some women are treated as if they have no intellectual capacity.
The boy’s mother thinks her son isn’t getting a job because there are girls, over-ambitious ones, who are on the prowl to steal all the jobs available to men. She doesn’t even spare a second to think that maybe her son didn’t try as hard or was not as well qualified as somebody else, or the interview didn’t go well.
Whatever the reason, she refused to see that there was anything wrong with her son and blamed it all on women, who dare to step out of the house and out of their rightful place to a forbidden domain in search of a job.
Whatever century one is part of, discrimination of the ‘weaker sex’ has always existed. Whether it is religion, politics or a socio-economic situation that is the cause of such and other variants of suppression; what is sad is that the greatest quality of a being a female, the ability to reproduce, has been turned against her to make her weaker, to shut her indoors like an animal and to deprive her of passions and dreams.