Before we start worrying about the first world like problems of Indian Women how about trying to fix some of the more fundamental issues facing Bharatiya Naris?

What makes some people expect women to overlook some issues that directly concern them, in their everyday life, until some other issues (which may also concern them, either directly or indirectly) are dealt with?

‘Indian Women’ is only a translation of  ‘Bharatiya Naris’, and the issues women deal with are all connected. Why insist on dealing with only some of the issues?

Is it because the ‘more important issues’ concern ‘other people’, and the commenter is not inconvenienced by the changes that acknowledging them requires? It’s so much easier to read about crimes committed on ‘other people’ than to be reminded that they must do their share of housework.

What do you think of this comment? [From hereMy response in block quotes.

“Empathise with the sentiment but clearly you are an Indian Women bothered about the limited definition of freedom. While there are many many more Bhaartiya Women who need much more help and effort.

Allow me to bring in some much needed perspective.

1. “- not in being able to stay single because you want to. It is when you don’t have to put up a fight to stay by your decision and are not judged based on your status – single, married, divorced, live-in, anything!”

> While you are worried about your single status there are many more women raped daily in our Bhaarat.”

IHM: So until rapes stop, women should not expect to be able to choose if, when and who to marry, live with or divorce?

The fact is, both the issues are connected to women not having a voice. Having a Voice is the most powerful tool against any injustice.

Also, if the society didn’t worry about women Getting and Staying Married, more rapes would be reported, and rapists would not be emboldened with options of offering to marry rape victims.

“2. “- not in a woman being able to go out and work at odd hours or even reach home safely. It is, when the parents, parents-in-law, or the spouse don’t welcome her with hostility and guilt-trip her.”

> While you are worried about not getting judged for working late in night, there are many more women who have to work as day labourers and face exploitation in hands of contractors and builders.”

IHM: Directly connected issues. If the day labourers had better options (like the option and freedom to work late in night and assurance of safety), they would have more jobs to choose from and more hope of finding alternative, less exploitative jobs.

“3. “- not in a husband sharing the household chores, but only when it is not done as a ‘favor’.”

> While you want your husband to not do you a ‘favor’ , there are many more women who are subjected to domestic violence.”

IHM: Connected issues. Domestic violence thrives on the belief that unfairness to women is an unfortunate but unavoidable part of life/society.

Such attitudes tolerate domestic violence. Couples who do not see men doing their share of housework as a favour, are more likely to take DV seriously. We need a society full of such couples/families to combat DV.

“4. “- not in just being able to report an abuse or rape, but only when the guilty are punished instead of guilt-tripping the woman.”

> While you are worried about not guilt-tripping, most cases of rape and molestation are not reported at all.”

IHM: Directly connected issues. Only when rape victims and their families see rapists being condemned and punished (and victims supported, not blamed, named or shamed) would they dare to report; only when they report would the rapists have fear of repercussions.

“5. “- not in just being able to study in a co-education institute or work in a male-dominated environment, but only when you don’t have a moral police telling you when to leave, how to dress, whom you can work with, when to call, when to receive one and from whom”

> While you are worried been able to study and dress up as you wish, there are many more women in our country who cannot attend school..”

IHM: Connected issues. Amongst the reasons for women being denied education is the fear of how it might give them opinions, ambitions, independence and how it might affect their willingness to adjust in their marital homes.

Families of Indian daughters need to see that women’s clothing, careers and social life is not something for which they can be humiliated by random relatives, moral police, strangers etc.

The more women are seen successfully living their lives (working, dressing, eating, drinking, socialising) on their own terms, the easier it becomes for other women to do the same.

This encourages more parents to let their daughters be born and educated.

“6. “- not in being able to drive your car or ride on your bike, but when a collective society does not make a loose, irresponsible comment of how women can NEVER get this one thing right.”

> While you are worried about driving your car freely, there are many more women in Bhaarat who have to venture outside their house only in company of a male companion.”

IHM: Connected issues. More women (and their families) would find it possible to let them step out alone if they do not see women (e.g women car drivers) being targeted just for being women.

“7. “- not in a man ‘agreeing’ to stay nuclear post marriage, but only when the woman is not expected to fall at his feet and worship for bestowing such a huge favour on her!”

> While you are worried about staying nuclear post marriage, many women are sacrificed by their families for not giving birth to a male child.”

IHM: Directly connected issues. This desire for male child is cause by the Patriarchal Joint Family System. If couples live in Nuclear homes, then parents of both, sons and daughters, can visit their male/female children. Only then would we see an end to women being sacrificed for male children.

“8. “- not in women and men coexisting in an environment, shouldering similar responsibilities, but only when the cliched, sexist jokes, supposedly funny, ceases. Not because I think it lacks in humor (it does anyway!). Its just the extent of irony in those and the sheer mockery. Yes, we still find it funny that a man cooks a meal in some homes. A tiny cut/bruise/late attendance at work by the man, is attributed to a good thrashing from the wife. The only good sense that prevails here is that the one relaying the joke is aware that it can only be a joke.”

> While you are worried about not been the end of sexit jokes, many more women are burnt alive by their in-laws over dowry.”

IHM: Connected issues. Sexist jokes make light of misogyny, gender bias and social issues that lead to domestic violence and bride burning.

“Before we start worrying about the first world like problems of Indian Women how about trying to fix some of the more fundamental issues facing Bharatiya Naris?”

IHM: Don’t you think that every step forward helps the entire society? In general, each positive action makes taking the next one a little easier for others?

For example, children who see their parents cook dinner together are less likely to joke about or  take at face value, news like, Woman commits suicide over poorly cooked chow.

28 thoughts on “Before we start worrying about the first world like problems of Indian Women how about trying to fix some of the more fundamental issues facing Bharatiya Naris?

    • My only contention with you is that why does there HAVE to be a demonstrable connection between these issues for the less ‘serious’ ones to hold water? I think we all have the freedom to pick and choose issues that concern us without needing to crusade for the entire gamut of problems out there.

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  1. There is always a problem bigger than your problem. So, basically if I worry about saving a part of my salary, I am a shameless man because there are many people in this world who live on roads? What kind of a logic is that?
    A woman should stop worrying about her own freedom because someone somewhere in the world is being manhandled by her family?
    Maybe the man/woman who wrote this should stop using the internet for his/her amusement because there are millions in the world who do not even have the basic aminities of food and water.
    Really, if we start thinking like that in all spheres of life, we will be pretty much ashamed of being alive. True, there are problems in this world but that does not make MY problems insignificant.

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  2. //”but clearly you are an Indian Women bothered about the limited definition of freedom. While there are many many more Bhaartiya Women who need much more help and effort.”//

    Of course I’d agree with the person if he/she will not complain if his salary gets delayed by a few months. Why should he run around and try to get it fixed? There are so many people going hungry in this country, so many begging on the streets. It is our duty to solve their problems first and then only fix the salary problem of someone who already has money in the bank to live comfortably for a couple of years. Isn’t it? *sarcasm*

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  3. I don’t think you need to justify any of these arguments. The original argument is completely ridiculous. It’s like saying we will not address any problems in the world until we have ended world hunger.
    If the person making this argument faces any injustice personally does he console himself with the same arguments? E.g. Does not get a raise, does he think of the fact that most Indians live in abject poverty. Get’s mugged, does he think of all the other violence happening in India?
    It’s a patronizing response and completely disconnected from the original blog which clearly states that she is talking about freedom that is important to her.

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  4. Great! Just what bharatiya naris need…..some guy who feels he is entitled to trivialize their legitimate issues and feels that he has the right to lecture them on what they should or should not worry about. This is just a tactic to shut down women’s voices by telling them that they cannot complain unless they meet his narrow, subjective definition of what should or should not constitute a problem for women.

    Hope he realizes that, by this, he has become part of the problem and not part of the solution. It will be excellent if he can bring up his points in front of the sexists / misogynysts that he meets instead of trying to use those points to belittle women and their concerns.

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  5. Dear Letter Writer-
    Every issue resolved – however big or small – is progress made. Do you know what people opposed to progress – for WHATEVER reason, however noble they try to make it sound – are called? They’re called regressive.
    Best,
    -TWC

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  6. Does the comment writer really think that all these issues are isolated, independent entities? That usually comes from a very limited and narrow look at the world around. Any social problem – big or small needs to be dealt with. Setting priorities won’t help here. Like intertwined threads, one might lead to resolution of other.

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  7. There are certain things I would really like to point out.

    A. You mentioned you empathise with the problems. However you dismissing them all as trivial compared to ‘more fundamental problems of bhartiya nari’ is anything but empathy.

    B. You accuse the blogger for her ‘limited definition of freedom’. However it is her definition of freedom the encompasses freedom to be single, divorced, married, nuclear, draped, semi draped, biker or orange or whatever besides generally and widely acknowledged ones like rape, female feoticide, domestic abuse, labour exploitation or dowry deaths.

    C.I dont think anybody who visits her blog would agree that women should tolerate rape, domestic violence or kill female babies. However there would still be people who are skeptical about issues like going nuclear, men cooking dinner, dressing up and dressing down on the whims and fancies of your your husband’s cousin’s neighbor’s aunty. They think its okay for a woman to give up on trivial things like driving a bike. It could be a healthy and much needed area of debate. There is no debate that rape is deplorable.It is the mosy heinious of crimes besides murder.period.If she has not mentioned rape doesnt mean she considers it unimportant. It means it doesnt even need to be mentioned that rape has to be hated.

    D. The blog is her space. She gets to decide what occupies it. If I decide to write about how to clean your toenails in three steps there is not a thing you can do about it .you can either find the steps helpful or not. But you cant say we need to keep our feet dirty and smelly because some person somewhere has arthritus. Yes you can very well do a research on arthritus and publish it on ‘your’ blog. I would love to read though i dont have arthritus.

    E. You would like us to first fix ‘fundamental’ problems of bhartiya nari before ‘first world problems’ of Indian women. You have not mentioned how.Pray tell us what do the ‘indian woman’ do in the interim(which could take more than her lifetime) about her petty ‘ first world problems’. Do we all make a resolution today that till domestic violence is not wiped out we will single handedly cook, clean, wash, work(during day ofcouse), never sit on the driver’s seat of a car, donate our bikes to men, wear only a saree, laugh out aloud at all sexist jokes, even comeup with our own. After all its too little to ask for when there are rapist, wife beaters lurking around the corner. But will doing all this help all the ‘bhartiya naris’? If not why can’t I blog about it?

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  8. u know, honestly, this commentor , imho, deserves this attention only bcs there are others who think like him and need to be told why they are wrong.
    and the commeneters, and u , ihm, have done that job very well already.

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  9. Should test out this way of thinking. We should do is have a government with only ONE ministry dedicated to focusing on only ONE problem at a time! Banking be damned. IT be damned. First we focus only on making homes for poor people. Till then the whole country comes to a halt and no one else has a life.

    There will always be someone whose problems are worse than yours. Fortunately we can fight for more than one issue at any given time.

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  10. This commenter sounds like a closet sexist to me. She/he is uncomfortable that the author brought up middle class issues which, if resolved, would affect his/ her own life too (god forbid, he may have to do the dishes!). Much easier to wax lyrical about the fabled ‘bhartiya nari’ as a distant concept.

    I am a bhartiya nari. As IHM has already explained, all these lower class and upper class issues are related. The fact that a middle class husband would expect his wife to do all the housework in addition to her job is VERY linked to the domestic abuse their maid might be facing. Both stem from culture entitlement that men are being allowed to get away with (‘you do the dishes because you are the woman’).

    If educated women’s first world problems cannot be solved, how could uneducated women’s third world problems be solved? In fact the powerless women only have some hope if women who have financial independence fight for equality in their own lives. The culture change cannot start with the powerless, it must be led by those that are in a position to demand better. When middle class women are out there in huge numbers at all times of the day, the chances of a poor girl getting raped in the streets will be lower too.

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  11. You’ve said it all, IHM! It irks me that people try to down play things – ‘you’re worried about such silly stuff, when others have so many more things to worry about’. Why is one problem bigger than another? And to be honest, if someone is really so bothered about the issues he/she cites, what is stopping them from working towards eradicating them? Why such concern when some people talk about things that concern them? I can’t help wonder if it’s because the issues discussed make them uncomfortable, at some level.

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  12. This a rather common fallacy in any socio-political discourse. The ‘Hierarchy of oppression’ comes up now and then, where someone tries to hijack a cause saying there are bigger causes to fight for and hence, the said cause is minor and irrelevant.

    This fallacy came up to the fore during the Arab-American protests against their marginalisation and discrimination in the United States. The apologists turned up and claimed that since blacks were more discriminated and oppressed, their hardships are nothing compared to that and they should shut up/stop whining. The best way to counter them is to pretend you didn’t hear them and not be outraged – just call on their fallacy and then ignore them.

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  13. IHM, thanks for picking up the comment and responding in such detail. Even if 1% of people (men AND women) make a conscious effort to think right and change their outlook on women with whom they relate to, the world will be a much better place for a woman to inhabit. We know of innumerable women around us who think their right place is to stand by the dining table and serve a hot meal. Nothing wrong as long as she is not the last person to eat and someone reciprocates the gesture. We have moral police even among the women. I hope things change when our daughters and sons grow up to be responsible adults who learn to respect space in relationships and people for what they are.

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  14. Loved it. Loved your clarity and the responses above.

    Especially coz I was faced with the paradox of marveling at the freedom I have of sitting drinking at an office party with only male colleagues, dressed the way I want, at midnight, without guilt-tripping from my family, and feeling mighty comfortable, safe and unjudged, but also overhearing snippets of a conversation dismissing a female colleague’s supposed complaint that a male colleague has misbehaved with her, and why these two guys thought about her character. I’m wondering if the guys would like to know what I think of their character.

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  15. Personally i think alot of the problems have to do with that noone really cares about THE OTHER. As long as it doesent affect you ,your family or friends, it seems to be not important to be solved. Indian education system is insufficent and would in my opinion need a serious overhaul and reform. But again the people who have the biggest problem are the ones least represented have a small voice. On the internet they are least likely to be found. Besides whining on a blog has close to zero actual impact. It can only bring introspection. And that too is useless it is followed by actual action. In either case so what?

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  16. Could not help it, but I commented there “I really do not understand this comment, does it mean that less developed countries like India should focus on the amelioration of poverty before they talk about space exploration and opening up the markets? Should the focus be on secondary and primary education not college education and certainly not research, because so many people are illiterate? “

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  17. Quote:
    Allow me to bring in some much needed perspective.
    Unquote:

    That sentence in the comment made my expectations go up.
    I looked for “perspective” and found none.
    I hoped the writer of the comment would respond either here or at Vidya’s blog to the rebuttals from your readers.
    Till 9:30 pm here on Saturday evening (11am Sunday morning in India) there is no response either here or at Vidya’s blog.
    I will check back later to see if he/she responds.

    Great arguments from you and all other readers.

    Regards
    GV

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