And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male…

I found the right to gender equality being questioned on these grounds (in red). We have heard these arguments before, I feel they should be taken seriously.

- In a lot of cases, men and women are definitely not equal.

In a healthy society, everybody, an old widower, a young dad, a teenager, a blind man, a dalit rape victim, a farmer, a village Sarpanch, a factory worker are, all, equal.

Gender, age, wealth, caste or marital status, do not take away the right to equality.

 

-How many times have we asked a male friend to drop us back home as it is too late in the night ? And how many times have we accepted small considerations shown to us (for e.g. a cashier asking women to form a separate queue) only because it suited us?

As equal citizens, women should be able to step into public transport without facing very real risk of being molested or being raped and killed. (And then be blamed for ‘asking for it’). When women ask for or accept being escorted back home, it is generally because public spaces, public transport  have an unwritten but very clear reservation for men. 

One also hears, ‘Why do women need separate coaches, queues and seats?’  Because even today the society excuses sexual harassment as ‘eve teasing’.

- How many times have we refused to work late at office only because we didn’t want to get back home alone in a cab ? 

- Demand equality where it is due. If you demand equality at a work place, make sure to stay up late just like the men. Do not give the excuse of family or being a woman to be allowed to go back early.

Most work-places and work-timings have evolved to the needs of men who have been working all along, and hence they are suited for men

As of now men (even married men and fathers) have a support system in place which makes these working conditions convenient. They have a spouse who cooks, packs tiffin, takes care of the children and the elderly. They are also able to travel easily because the spouse takes care of the home and family.

Women, specially married women,  generally do not have this support system. They are expected to make sure that the working man is not inconvenienced when they pick up paid-jobs. So for most women today, “entering into a marriage and having kids seems like a bad career move:”

When women started ‘working’, even fifty years ago in India, there was a feeling that women  were taking away men’s jobs – till then it was understood that all jobs rightfully belonged to men – Reserved For Men. Now we are beginning to understand that women can’t (won’t) be denied paid-jobs. This is also (slowly) liberating the men and letting them see housework and child rearing as their right and responsibility.

The work place is now evolving again. It’s mutual need.  Jobs need workers and  the new age workers have different needs. 

If we do not create work-places that make it possible for mothers (or parents) to work, we will make it difficult for the the coming generations (specially women) to choose to have children. It’s happening in Europe and Australia.  Women should not have to choose between self-reliance and motherhood/marriage- because then they might be forced to choose self reliance.

Every adult should have the right to self- reliance. The society needs to make sure that marriage and motherhood do not deprive half the population of self reliance, happiness, safety, good-health, respect, dignity, freedom and equality.

“Most women are afraid of losing their jobs” by taking time out to have a child, says Liu. He says Taiwan should follow the lead of European countries like Germany, where women are entitled to up to three years of maternity leave by law.” [click to read the entire article]

- What about the demands for 33% reservation for women in AP, and when finally given, 20% of those seats go empty.

Right to education, right to inheritance, right to family name, right to performing the parents’ last rites, right to freedom, public spaces, travelling, right to self reliance, right to second chances in life, remarriage, parental love, even right to be born have all been reserved for men for centuries. 

Politics, governance and law making was also reserved for men. 

And even today some Institutions have a lower cut-off for male students. (Because girls seem to be scoring higher. [Another link])

Women even today, are discouraged from taking their careers too seriously, career for women is seen as an option (and Getting and Staying Married as the goal). So the playing field is not level.

 So is the 30% reservation a favour to women?

It is not.

The entire society benefits from a system where every member has the opportunity to realize their full potential and to contribute to the best of their ability.

Happy, self reliant, confident women mean happier families, and happier families mean a happy society. 

We need a society where women are valued by their families and that is not possible until they stop being ‘liabilities’ – which is not possible until they are provided equal and fair opportunities. 

The only time when girls are treated as equals is in schools – and we have seen the results. This when many girls have to work at home and their careers are not a priority.

-And I feel it is pretty stupid to demand equality where physical labour might be involved. Granted that a lot of women are capable of more stamina than men, but the statistics proving the contrary are larger.

 One should be paid for the amount of work done not for one’s physical strength, because no two men (or women) are equally strong, and a stronger worker may or may not work more.

Equal pay for equal work is fair. Women are generally not paid as much for the same amount of work.

Even today it is believed that a man has to support his family so he should be better paid.

 – And religion .. Am not well versed in other religions, but Hinduism started with worshiping the supreme feminine power. Even today, the supreme power in Hinduism is a female entity. Though man may perform atrocities on women, Hinduism still places importance on the female power.

That’s lip service. How does it help an average woman, if we still insist, through our actions or words, that women can’t be equal to the rest of the population?

- And if a woman demands equality, she should behave exactly like a male (which in my opinion is impossible as basically men and women are different).

Being equal means having equal right to justice, opportunities, and happiness and against exploitation (etc).

Equality does not mean some people need to behave  like other people. And all men (or all women) are not alike either. Equality would mean men and women being able to be themselves – sometimes they might want to do some things that were earlier ‘reserved for men’ (like the right to be paid for their labours) – that’s fine.

Equality also means men have an equal right to enjoy cooking, caring for family, raising children or dancing. It does not mean they have to behave exactly like women to be treated as equals.

Also consider, does a Chinese, a Maharashtian, a Malayali, a Canadian, an Ethiopian or a Goan man behave exactly alike? But everybody is and should be equal in the eyes of the law and the society.

Feminism is not men versus women, it is an older, biased way of living, giving way to a logical and just way of living.

 

Related Posts:  

I do not like Reservation.

Biology versus Culture DEATHMATCH Part I (Nandini’s Niche)

 

 

Essence of a Woman.

On International Women’s Day (amongst other things) women were described as the epitome of selfless sacrifice and silent suffering. An email forward describes how special women are.

She cures herself when sick and she can work eighteen hours a day… She smiles when feeling like screaming she sings when she feels like crying…

Tears are her way of expressing grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride…

:roll:

Sarpanch Ashuba Khan thought women could do better than that. When reservation made her the Sarpanch,  her all-woman Panchayat changed lives in Neemkheda village in Haryana. [Allytude thanks for this inspiring link!]

Built a pucca road, primary health centre, girls’ junior school and 72 toilets! Primary school upgraded to secondary school. Enrolment shot up from 97 to 800

For the male panchayat members, alcoholism did not merit punishment. For us, it became the number one crime. Now no alcoholic in Neemkheda gets home-cooked food.

(Till now it seems the Panchayat used to spend all the funds organizing gigs and fairs.)

Men mock them but the all-woman panchayat members aren’t bothered.

“Apart from illiteracy, gender was also generously used against them.

“The men ridiculed us saying women are meant only to dance inside the house,” says 56- year-old Salma.

“We said why are we then made to work in the fields, fetch water, fetch wood?

They said the panchayat is different.

We said just wait and see.”

We were lucky to have had Dr Ambedkar and Jawahar Lal Nehru fighting for our rights . We take our right to vote for granted (so do our politicians).

This little poem gives a glimpse of the bitterness women in the West felt during their struggle for the Right to vote.

Alice Duer Miller

From a Man’s Point of View

WOMEN love self-sacrifice
Suffering and good advice;
If they don’t love these sincerely
Then they’re not true women really.

Oh, it shocks me so to note
Women pleading for the vote!
Saying publicly it would
Educate and do them good.

Such a selfish reason trips
Oddly from a woman’s lips.
But it must not be supposed
I am in the least opposed.
If they want it let them try it.
For I think we’ll profit by it.

They too expressed their ‘suffering’ with more than just tears.

Essence means, ‘The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something.‘ Can we really define the essence of a woman (or the essence of a man)?


Reservation by custom and tradition is acceptable.

I do not like the fact that we have a custom of reservation against female citizens.

In huge parts of India, rich or poor, higher education is reserved for men – even today.

A large number of jobs are reserved for men. Women from all economic backgrounds, do  conquer these ‘male bastions’, braving discrimination, sexual harassment, and criticism for neglecting their families.

Inheritance and family name is reserved for men. (Sanjay Dutt’s objection to his sister’s using their family name.)

Family business and family wealth is reserved for men. (Ever heard of the Ambani brothers’ sister?)

The right to self reliance is generally reserved for men.

Fun and freedom is strictly reserved for men. Pubs, parties, good clothes, dancing, drinking and most public spaces are reserved for men.

Picture something as simple as a woman, happily singing or whistling, as she cycles down the road on a rainy day…

After dark, most roads, most streets, most local trains, buses and public spaces are reserved for men. (In some places the government has officially reserved such jobs for men.)

Second chances in life are largely reserved for men.

Sadly even the right to be joyously welcomed into this world is generally reserved for men.

We do not even notice all this reservation, because it passes off as custom, family values and protection. It is difficult to fight this reservation because it is unwritten and mostly unofficial.  In fact we do not even acknowledge this reservation.

* * *

Today most women (and a lot of men) in parliament are spouses or relatives of existing politicians. Very few make it to Parliament on their own. Why?

Is it because politics as a profession is not suited for women? Not true.

Is it because traditionally positions of power have been reserved for men? This must be true to some extent. And such an attitude can discourage suitable women candidates. Everybody, including all political families give preference to their male relatives. The prejudice applies everywhere.

Is it because we  wonder if there is even a need for women in politics, when men have been managing all along? Our politicians and many of us might feel this way. Remember some of them think women invite rape on themselves.

We do know this lack of participation is not because women are not as capable. Year after year girls have been scoring as well as boys in CBSE/ICSE/HSC. We all know they sometimes have no support at home because many parents consider marriage, not career, a girl’s goal.

So how do women fight against all this reservation?

Do we need to create an environment where equal opportunities are made available? I think we do.

I do not like this reservation by custom and tradition. I prefer a level playing field. And I want some women to represent me in the Parliament.

What will actually happen if Women’s Reservation Bill is passed?

Since 1993, 1/3rd of the seats in panchayats have been reserved for women. This has been referred to as “the greatest social experiment ever.  (Sandeep Bansal)

Prerna says, When 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament will be filled by women…  They will speak out for women… to appease the female vote banks if not for their duty.

Martin Luther King said he knew discrimination against African Americans would end eventually – but he did not want to wait for it to happen ‘eventually’ – he wanted to work for it and end it now so the next generation could breath free. I feel any step that hastens our slow, very slow movement towards a more just society should be welcomed.

Women’s Reservation Bill de-reserves 181 seats from men, and makes them available to all other equal citizens.

Will that not help in creating a level playing field?

Edited keeping the comments in mind,  from an earlier post published on June 9th 2009 – (I do not like Reservation).

Read more posts on International Women’s Day here.

I do not like reservation.

I do not like the fact that we have reservation for all Indians except female citizens.

In more than 50% of Indian families, education is reserved for men.

A large number of jobs are reserved for men. (Women do  enter these ‘male bastions’ but these are exceptions who have really fought an unfair battle, including sexual harassment).

Inheritance and family name is reserved for men. (Sanjay Dutt’s objection to his sisters using their family name?)

Family business and family wealth is reserved for men. (Ever heard of Ambani brothers’ sister?)

The right to self reliance is generally reserved for men.

Fun is strictly reserved for men. Pubs, parties, good clothes, dancing, going out, freedom to enjoy in public spaces is reserved for men. (Picture something as simple a woman, happily singing or whistling as she cycles on a rainy day).

After dark, most roads, most streets, most local trains, buses and public spaces are reserved for men. Women who try to defy this reservation by picking up jobs that keep them out of their homes after dark are considered adventurous. (In some places the government has officially reserved these jobs for men.)

Second chances in life are largely reserved for men.

Sadly even the right to be joyously welcomed into this world is often reserved for men.

We do not even notice all this reservation, because it passes off as custom, family values and protection. It is difficult to fight this reservation because it is unwritten and often unofficial.  In fact we do not even acknowledge this reservation.

About Women’s Reservation Bill

A large number of our politicians from all parties (except left?) have entered politics through their family connections. Sons, nephews, brothers, uncles, cousins, grandsons. (This is a serious concern.) And when there are no male relations available, then some female relatives are also brought into politics.

It is feared that Women’s Reservation Bill might encourage these political families to bring their own female family members into politics. I can only say that, this reminds me of Chowdhry Charan Singh saying equal property rights for daughters will ruin the sisters’ relationship with their brothers.

What will actually happen with Women’s Reservation Bill? I feel even if we do initially see  female relatives of Varun Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the Parliament, eventually the political parties will be compelled to support leaders like Mallika Sarabhai.

As of now, there are hardly any women who have made it to Parliament on their own. Why?

Is it because politics is dirty business, not suited for women? No because we have seen many competent women politicians; they have shone once they were given the opportunity.

Is it because traditionally positions of power have been reserved for men? This has to be true to some extent. And such an attitude can discourage suitable women candidates. Everybody, including the political families give preference to their male relatives.  The prejudice applies everywhere.

Is it because we  wonder if there is even a need for women in politics when the men have been managing all along? I do believe our politicians might feel this way. Remember they think sex education means blue films, and they think women must not wear jeans and noodle straps. They have been known to made comments on women wearing lipstick and powder, and they have expressed concern about sisterly love dwindling if daughters are given equal property rights.

My grandmother once told me girls should only work as Teachers and Doctors. She also said she was glad she had so many daughters (& their dowries), because otherwise her sons would have got spoiled with all the wealth. (She needed excuses to love her daughters.) Two generations down, our politicians still have the same mindset.

We do know this lack of participation is not because women are not as capable. Year after year girls have been scoring as well as boys in CBSE/ICSE/HSC results. We all know they sometimes have lesser support at home because many parents consider marriage, not career, a girl’s goal.

Also there is no doubt that the right to having a job is very subtly reserved for men. My maid says people are known to complain that “when a woman starts working she takes away a man’s job, and a family’s bread and butter”.  With a mindset like this, perhaps the unwritten reservation for men is not really subtle.

So how do women fight against all this reservation? Do we need to create an environment where opportunities are made comparatively equal? I think we do.

I do not like reservation I prefer a fair playing field. I want some women to represent me in the Parliament. I support Women’s Reservation Bill, because it de-reserves 181 seats from men, and makes them available to all other equal citizens.

High time.