Yet another Women’s Day goes by, rather uneventfully. Everyone has paid the appropriate lip service to the cause. Everyone has appropriately wished every women they know a very happy women’s day. By sending forwarded text messages of course. But, where is the real freedom? A couple of days ago, there was this post on a climate of fear that our dear friends from the Ram Sena have created in Bangalore. Today, Nimmy talks of how commentators on a TOI article equate working women with being un-feminine. So, where is the freedom? Where is the dignity and respect?
The comments on the TOI article are especially outrageous. Each commentator brags about how Indian family values are halping women and protecting them. But, where are the women reading these articles? Why is nobody saying anything to these chauvinist bastards? Even today, a woman has to earn less than a man for her marriage to be happy. Sure, not all women are suppressed. But, exceptions do not make the rule. Sadly, the reality bites for a large majority of women. Also, why is an educated and financially independent woman considered un-feminine? Why is she less of a mother or wife than a homemaker? And the word homemaker itself…I hate it. I prefer calling them stay-at-home moms or wives. Homemaker sounds like an apology.
Many of these people claim women are free. They can do what they want to. They are equal. That we feminists (that’s supposed to be an insult) are fighting for no reason. But tell me. How can a woman be equal when a system as unfair as dowry still exists? I know of someone who has five daughters. In trying to get the third of the five daughters married, she encounters numerous problems. The girl works in an MNC in the US. But, for a man (half as qualified and good-looking as her), she must pay 350 sovereigns in gold, 5 diamond jewels (necklace, long chain, bangles, earrings, rings etc.) and 2 lakhs in cash. Oh, and I forgot. She must also pay EMI for that fancy house the guy has bought in a remote corner of Chennai last year. That works out to another 35,000 rupees a month. Not to mention that she must forget her parents the moment she get married. And yes, the parents are required to make an appearance with more cash and gold every time the girl has a baby. Unfair, you think? Unfortunately, nobody else seems to think so. I asked the lady why she couldn’t refuse. She tells me her daughter will never get married then. And if the daughter falls in love? God forbid! That would be the ultimate sacrilege. She must be sold off like cattle to the highest bidder. Only this time, the cattle will pay for itself.
It’s annoying. We live in a man’s world. We may not like to accept it, but the harsh reality. Real freedom will come when we can wear what we feel like and not be ogled at. It will come when we don’t require a male escort to come back home late from work. It will come when we can unwind in a pub with a glass of wine in hand, without having to worry about which hooligan will barge in and molest us. It will come only when a well-educated, working woman will have the choice not to pay dowry to get married. It will come when parents have the guts to tell such grooms to go to hell. Until then, we need to remind ourselves of the existence of the silent half of humanity. We need to continue to celebrate International Women’s Day.