Sunday, December 11, 2011

A time to change

Today's topic would be to try to understand  the question of the traditional roles played by women in India mainly, and also the world.The way ,in general, social perception has been built , women are known to look after the family,bear children and that is where they should find salvation.Now in today's world when we have advanced a lot and we see a lot many working women it is time that we ask a question,whether this traditional perception of women, is ,at all valid.

Lets take a plunge into the past for this.Long back when cave man and woman decided that they should follow the steps of Adam and Eve, their only necessity was to eat, reproduce and sustain their family.In such a set up, the ability to sustain a family in a better way and the size of the family you can bring up, were the only measures by which your efficiency could be judged.So for a man, it was the number of women they had in their life and the number of children they had.For a woman too, it was by the number of children she could produce.There is a reason to this also.Our earth in the distant past was scarcely populated..yes it was..and people then must have understood that manpower was what it needed to be more powerful, successful.The definition of power and success , of course judged by number of wives and children you have, among other factors.This was a cycle..the more you reproduce the more powerful you are..the more powerful you are..the more you can reproduce.And why not..!!the kind of inputs that led to a good life and sustenance of life..involved heavy work..going to jungle,working with the woods,gathering food from the dense forests, breaking stones and so on.Life was very hectic and hard.So for obvious reasons,the physically weaker sex,women lacked much behind in all these.It was very difficult for a woman to emerge as the food provider of a family.She gradually emerged not as someone who could provide food like men, but as someone who could produce men.Healthy, strong men.Hence those women who could not do so..came to be known as unholy,unlucky,the bereaved.It is important to understand the position of an unmarried girl in a family in this respect.The only use of woman , as a producer, was not available unless she gets married.So until that time she was a burden on her father.In a social structure that has a scarcity of resources, love, duty and responsibility are not always the only things.So when it comes to bringing up a child,or spending some resources for him/her, in case there is a paucity of resources, the provider would always try to dispose of the unproductive things as early as possible.Hence came in the custom of early marriages.A girl, as soon as she reached her puberty was married of.And even in some cases before that...when the bridegroom is hedging the future risk of not getting a beautiful, healthy wife.Even the definition of being beautiful has been very close to what it means to have the ideal body statistics to bear more and more healthy children.Thus girls were married of as early as the age of 10-12.And then in the years to come the girl became extremely weak,giving birth to children year after year,with severe malnutrition, and other diseases.If you are giving birth to 10 or 15 children in a span of 20 years(which could have been your most "productive" years in other ways too), starting from an age of 14 or 15, it is obvious that you wont have any good health left out to do other things.
So for understandable reasons , it was the RIGHT social structure that women stay back at home, nurturing their offspring and bringing more of them to the world, while the provider, the man goes out for work.

Now , in everything we see, we know, the person , the group who "provides" has an undoubtable upper hand.Take for the example your employer.So unless the service is very rare and very important, it is the provider of money who is the boss.Because he provides exchangeable currency.I will write a separate post on this soon.Hence we can understand why the males in a family grew to be masters.He will demand care, attention, pampering,he will make rules and ensure that they are followed.In short, he will want a gratification of his power.And in such a scenario, if we consider the male and female as two distinct entities of a bigger social picture, who would not want to decrease the power of the other entity and grow themselves?So as time passed, it became a male dominated society.And came in such fundas as "daughter is a guest","kanyadan" etc.If a daughter stays with you only for 8 or 9 years before she is married,before she develops her own identity,personality,she is indeed a guest!She cant get anything from parents, she cant be an intrinsic part of her maternal/paternal clan.Yes,she imbibes everything from her inlaws.And gharjamais were looked down as expected.Certainly because they were "weak" they could not sustain their family themselves, and took help from another male..the wife's father/brother(the males will be in a state of continuous struggle for power among themselves).This continued for years over years, and now we have our present society.

Now take a look at present.One, the nature of work needed to sustain a family has drastically changed.You don't go to jungles or wage a war to sustain your family.A vast part of job profiles consists of cushy jobs and getting paid.Two, and thank god and the inventor,birth control has arrived.You don't have to give birth year after year and yet your carnal desires can be fulfilled.Three,today's world does not need a big family.Come on..its population EXPLOSION.We need less number of children unlike the past.Four,the maternal health has improved drastically over the years.Thanks to the laws and medical facilities.So we have more number of physically healthy women in the society.Five, on an average women are getting married at an age over 20.So for 20 years her closest relatives are only her parents and siblings.She cant be called a "guest" any more.Six,the definitions of power,success have , to some extent changed.We can no longer say that a women who gives birth to 10 sons is a worthy human being.We do not consider widows as totally useless unlike the past when they were rendered useless because of their incapability to give birth and satisfy a man in the legitimate way.We do not consider a man with 20 wives as a "MAN".Seven,information revolution has taken place.It is very difficult to keep someone uninformed.Hence everyone is mostly or can be aware of his/her position/role in the society.Eight,just like the past,everything is governed by the convenience and power.So it is more convenient to have a dual income family,gives more money,makes you more powerful.

Coming to a close, what I want to say is, the rules and social structures in any society are always constructed based on deep social, economic factors, are based on the convenience of people, over the struggle for power, over domination and revolution. Over the years these take shape into an extremely stringent rule based system, a closed dark box. You never become aware that those very reasons which led to the rules have changed and that you need to change also. New rules have to be made in a society where the dynamics of everything is fast changing. One cannot keep his/her eyes closed and be impervious to all these.The ideal society should be such which should give equal opportunity to all, that should not take decisions on behalf of others lives and that should have equal representation of all the parties. This is not something to happen in a day. And in fact, ideal is a word that suits in dictionaries only.But then haven't we learnt about differential calculus ?Limit tends to ideal? least we can strive for betterment.It’s time to take a call...