Do you agree with this comment on Bhagwad Jal Park’s blog? I am sharing and responding to some parts below.
“… here is an alternate take at history of the genders. …
Very early on, protecting and ensuring safety of women pretty much determined survival of our species as a whole as they were the bottle neck in reproduction. i.e. with all the men dead only 1 could repopulate the next generation, while with all but one women dead, the herd/group/clan was as good as dead…
This meant keeping women out of any and all potential danger was the values and genes that got passed down.
Women had to be groomed in a fashion that self-preservation came first even in the deepest crisis. They had to prevent themselves from going out in the wild to fight animals to save their loved man because the risk of having a female killed was too high.
IHM: //protecting and ensuring safety of women… the risk of having a female killed was too high.//
Ensuring women’s safety?
1. Baby girls were (still are) killed; older girl children were under nourished, widows were burnt alive, honor killed, women’s health and nutrition was neglected.
2. //They had to prevent themselves from going out in the wild to fight animals//
Also women were traditionally seen as producers of male heirs; and care givers for their spouse’s families. This influenced how far and for how long they were allowed to go from their mayaka or sasural (They were expected to go from one to another in Doli and come out in Arthi). Most public spaces were socially reserved for men. Women risked beatings, kidnapping, rapes and honor killing if they stepped into spaces reserved for men.
3. //self-preservation came first even in the deepest crisis//
But I am really not sure if women have stronger instincts of self preservation – I personally know of and have blogged about women fighting attackers in their homes to protect their children and families.
Similarly, men had to be groomed in a fashion where disposability of their own life for the herd/group/female meant honour and pride.
To this date we see these values and very little has changed about them over the past few decades…
IHM: True, very little has changed. Unmana blogged about how Indian Air Force seems to think ‘Pregnancy makes women pilots cost-inefficient’.
Up till the industrial revolution, working on most “jobs” needed you to either be out in the sun (farming, digging, building, land trading, warring etc) or in extreme conditions (smithing, sailing, masonry etc etc). The ones I left out which could hold both men and women had both in some proportion (science, arts) but the status quo was set by the vast majority of other jobs and our early ideologies and values as a species. Old habits die really hard. (another example would be altruism, having each others backs and treating the whole clan as one family was very essential for survival back in the day, now it has given rise to nations, religions etc etc, you see how it works I guess)
In a relationship (marriage), birthing and nursing a child (which were many as our species needed to grow to outnumber other species and ensure prosperity) without much medical advances meant most women had to remain indoors, which translated to taking care of indoor work.
Nice little division of labour IMHO, nothing to be ashamed of. Maintaining the house and taking care of next generation are massive responsibilities on their own.
Nowadays we are trained to see them as unwanted jobs, burdens even otherwise how would you sell the idea of oppression??
IHM: I would not call it ‘a nice little division of labour’.
Women did labour in the fields (which they did not own) and at home (which they could be kicked out of) and brought forth a much needed new generation (who didn’t bear their names, link) and took care of their spouse’s family and household (which made them paraya dhan in their birth families).
In patriarchal societies marriage relocated women and took away their inheritance [link], freedoms and choices. Women could be forced to marry and stay married to anybody; sex and children outside marriage could get women killed.
The reason why the work women do is not seen as work is because, not only does it come for free (in fact it comes with dowry) it generally does not empower the worker [link] the way paid labour does. Quitting or seeking another job, until recently, was not seen as an option.
Guess which gender was out there dying fighting, dying etc in an attempt to “protect” the other gender all that while? The oppressors, men!
If one gender is truly oppressed/ slaved, do you think anyone would give two shits about marrying, providing etc? It would make more sense to just buy and sell them without the pretext of marriage (blacks, slavery, remember??)
Could you imagine an average slave owner, leaving his/her seat on a life boat for their slave to live on?
Yet we are given the kool-aid of slavery-ish oppression… Makes perfect sense…
IHM: Here are some comparisons between slavery and patriarchy: not allowed to choose who to live with, marry or have sex with, can be killed/severely punished for disobedience, labour that provides no self reliance, may not have the right to decide when to have children, maybe blamed and tortured or killed for not giving birth or for bearing girl children and then no control on the lives of those children, no rights on own earnings, none or lesser inheritance but carries he weight of community’s honor etc.
Did this system of so-called patriarchy come into being because men wanted to oppress women, or did it arise out of the need of a functioning society and survival of our species?? You be the judge!
IHM: It’s not men versus women. Traditional patriarchal societies empower a few to control the lives of others. Did widow burning benefit the sons and fathers of the widows who were burnt alive? And does dowry empower fathers and brothers of daughters?
Fast forward to post industrial revolution era, now we have abundance of offices and jobs which are “safe enough” for women. Medical advances enable them finally to be able to do things that men had to do, either by choice or by peer pressure.
And when this time has come to pass, all of the past is painted in this black and white picture of “patriarchy”…
But how is this model working/selling so well if there is little truth to it? Because of the same old habits which die hard, men always have been taught to keep women and children first from a very early age, to protect and provide for them and women have been taught to be self-preservative even at the cost of shutting a blind eye to other’s lives being at stake.
IHM: Frequently the work that women do in their homes (or outside) is not acknowledged. This is one of the biggest reasons why everybody should be able to choose what they do, protect, provide, serve, sacrifice or whatever.
When women’s self preservation doesn’t necessarily need a man to be around, the ones which are potential threats started to seem bigger and bigger. Threats have to be neutralized and here we have, as a consequence feminism.
IHM: “Feminism does not want women to have power over men but over themselves. – Mary Wollstonecraft”
We still have the male defining his self worth based on his usefulness to the herd (family) and the female(wife/partner etc) and the self-preserving female using victimhood to eradicate all potential threats.
IHM: Patriarchy does not empower all men, nor does it completely control all women; patriarchy (in India) basically empowers the parents of budhape ka sahara.
The original comment on Bhagwad Jal Park’s blog can be read here…’here is an alternate take at history of the genders’