Saturday, 1 September 2012

Male Chauvinism, a bigger concern

Something reminded me of a boring afternoon of college days. Six college guys, to kill time, started off a discussion on the weirdest topic, "Who would let her wife wear bikini on a beach?". Soon the discussion turned into a heated debate, with three of them saying that they won't let her wear that, no matter what happens, while the other three saying it would rather be her choice. I was on the latter side, but that for-fun debate made me think, that up to what extent is our society patriarchal? 

Patriarchal, as we all understand, is a term used when there is violence against women/girls, but it is defined as a social system that is dominated by male, also known as male chauvinism. We all are worried about plethora of crimes against women ranging from eve-teasing, molesting to more vicious female foeticide, dowry and rapes. But what are the roots of all these crimes? These all, I think, are the by-products of thousands of years of patriarchal and male dominant society of ours.

Painted by: Digambar Sonawane
The term ‘eve teasing’ is an Indian origin, which itself has some demerits. Eve represents temptress and the term actually signifies that eves (women) tempt or provoke males for vulgar comments and behaviors. Ironically, that also means women cause the problem and are also a victim to it. The word is disrespectful of women because we are. A good friend of mine once told, "Mujhe to beta hi chahiye" and I was not able to understand his thoughts behind it. Further inquiring, I came to know that it was because of the great deal of money given by his father for his sisters' wedding. If we wouldn't have looked at women differently, we wouldn't have eve-teased, molested and raped them and if we wouldn't have considered them inferior to men we wouldn't have to pay dowry to get them a good man. Also, we all know that dowry is the main reason for female foeticide. Hence, male chauvinistic/dominant nature is a very important point of concern and needs lot of pondering upon.

Looking at the cases of male chauvinism in media we will find that lot more than often females have to go through this. Sania, Jwala and Dipika have recently shown their outrage on the Indian sports authorities for male chauvinism. Acid throwing is a major concern for Indian women, which was, until recently, a bailable offence. Even Indian cinema, with its usual accompaniment of song and dance routines, which invariably results in the heroine submitting to the hero's advances towards the end of the song, and young men tend to emulate the example, is strengthening chauvinism. Movies like Chak de India, a block-buster, which showed the reality of male chauvinism, whereas Devdas and even its modern version Dev D, shows that Dev’s chauvinism gives him the liberty of having all the fun with females around him and the same chauvinism leads to his break up when he gets suspicious about the loyalty of his girlfriend.

Tremendous instances are encountered in our day-to-day life also but either we choose to ignore or we just don't notice them. Most common of them, which I have heard even from my friends is, "Mere se jyada padhi likhi wife nahi honi chahiye" or "Wife ki salary apne se jyada nahi honi chahiye". Ironically, the same person is ready to accept dowry and live in wife's flat or drive wife's car, and that would also be a proud moment for him. Almost every Indian parent teaches their daughter to cook but not her brother. Just hours ago, a friend bursted out her anger, "Why is it always me, who is expected to clean or cook whenever mom is ill or maid is on leave? Why can't dad or bro do it at times?". These things are so deep rooted that we don't even realize that this is happening. Few days back I encountered a blog (link here), where the writer was very critical and angry on a facebook pic shared by his friend commenting regarding women apparel. Yesterday, even I found a pic being shared by ample people on facebook (link here). In all these ways, we are bolstering male chauvinism instead of doing the inverse. Two days back, while sitting in a restaurant I saw two couples having dinner on the same table, one of them asked other couple what they would have and the man answered to his question using "hum" ye nahi khaenge. I could see the willingness of her wife to have that but she was keeping her wish silent in front of her "male". These are few incidences encountered by me and wasn't able to digest them well.

In school we are taught about gender equality, but as we grow up the two lines of 'equal to'  (=) sign starts rotating and we don't even realize when it intersects each other to form 'less than' (<)  sign resulting into GIRL < BOY. No embryo in the womb would sign up for this if it knew that world is such a biased place. 

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