Tuesday, January 26, 2016



Various arguments were put across by readers on the subject of feminism and male chauvinism.   Travails of women in a ‘man’s world’ can not be looked down. ‘Are they less in the woman’s own  world?’, is a question that needs to be discussed.  Basically, how many women feel happy and comfortable if their first issue is a girl child? Very few, indeed. Not only that, the woman giving birth to a girl is maltreated and assailed by womenfolk in family circles. Educated families are no exception. In majority families, while fathers want girl children equally educated with boys, it is the mothers that put a spoke in the wheel. ‘ Getting rid of the burden of a daughter’ by marrying her off is a priority of mothers. Mothers are not alone to be blamed here. Womenfolk in the family and outside start nitpicking. ‘Something is wrong with the girl’, is the common refrain.
Once married, acceptance of the girl in the new family is the toughest part in her life. Here too, discrimination from the ‘womenfolk’ in the new family is quite distressing. How many mothers-in-law accept the girls as their own daughters? How many married or unmarried daughters in the new family accept the ‘newly-wed’ bride as one among them, basically a woman? Quite a few.  They start bellyaching her for such minor things like the way she talks, walks, dresses or works. It may not be exaggeration  if it is said that but for the menfolk in the groom’s family like father-in-law husband and brothers-in-law, many marriages end in distress.
The story does not end here. Once, the once-a-shy-bride assumes control in the family, the nitpicking roles reverse, more often than not.  Mutual jealousies between co-sisters and the sisters-in-law et al disturbs  the equanimity in the family, so much so that even in this era of nuclear families, there is an uneasy calm between families of brothers and sisters, if and when they meet. Once she comes of age and assumes the role of mother-in-law
she either forgets her past travails or tends to revenge the humiliation she suffered in her in-law’s house. She sees that her daughter-in-law takes the same beating and the saga goes on for ages.
The less said about teasing of women by women themselves, leave alone eve-teasing by menfolk. Recently, I dressed in jeans and tee-shirts on a visit to my daughter in  Europe. I am 62. When I showed the photos  at a family get-together, I was looked with assumed ‘derision’ . All the womenfolk in the family in unison condemned my way of dressing. One of my co-sisters went to the extent of saying that the dressing does not give respect to the family. I only dressed for my convenience and suitable for the conditions in those countries. It had approval of all menfolk in the family including my husband, son and even sons-in-law.  Mine is not a case in exception but general. Little do women realise that dressing is an individual prerogative.Convenience determines the dressing styles in most cases. A lady travelling  a local train during peak times in cities like Mumbai can not be expected to wear a sary and fall.
Even mass media is not helpful in this regard. The serials on TV portray women as weaker sex always crying. Or they show one woman conspiring against the other. This only aggravates the negative tendencies in women. The effect of mass media on viewers can not be ignored.
I am neither aggrandizing the men nor am I belittling the fairer sex. Before we ask men to mend their ways and give women their due, we should clean our stables. We should cry halt to negative tendencies in ourselves. We should learn to respect our own clan and protect ourselves and other women from the eagle eyes and evil ways of the opposite sex. Then only our struggle for equality in all fields can be achieved. Till such times we remain puppets in the hands of men.