Monday, 23 July 2012

Are women their own worst enemies?


‘Unch Maza Zoka’ loosely translated as ‘My swing will touch the sky’ is a Marathi television series based on the life of ‘Ramabai Ranade’. The series deals with her life and that of her husband 'Justice Madhav Govind Ranade’ who was a reformer and the founding member of Indian National Congress. Ramabai was married at the age of eleven to Madhav Ranade who was 32 and had lost his first wife to illness. Ramabai was illiterate when she married Justice Ranade who helped her to learn how to read and write. In spite of their age difference, there was a camaraderie between them and Ramabai was thoroughly inspired by Justice Ranade. He was highly educated and strived his whole life to remove the social evils that existed in the society. He was against untouchability, the practice of sati and child marriage and sponsored the first widow marriage. He was a strong advocate of women’s right to education. Ramabai herself is  shown to be very enthusiastic and dedicated to learning.

There are many other characters in the TV series such as  her own family, which believes that if a woman learns to read and write, she is sure to become a widow. Her in-laws though not very approving of Ramabai’s education have grudgingly accepted it. The women folk in the house think that Ramabai’s place is in the kitchen and she needs to be a good homemaker and take care of the household instead of  learning how to read and write.

What comes to mind after watching this series is that, even though Ramabai lived nearly 100 years before our time, the situation of women has not changed much since then. The regressive social norms in India are still very rigid and still very much in favour of men.

Why has that been possible? Why is it that, we have not been able to change the way men in India look at women as objects? Are we as women, our own worst enemies?

I believe, we are our own worst enemies. As women, instead of understanding the pain of a woman, the mother-in-law is the one who will abuse and is even ready to kill her daughter-in-law for dowry. A woman instead of supporting her own daughter to study further and help her stand on her own feet, will get her married of at an early age. The daughter will have no education or the required skills to empower herself if her in-laws throw her on the road for not getting dowry.

The Guwahati molestation case is one of the many situations wherein the woman is seen as an object instead of a human being. To top the situation, women leaders who are supposed to raise their voices against such injustice are belittling women by asking them to dress up conservatively so as not to provoke men in our society. As if, these men will not eve tease or whistle at a woman who is dressed conservatively or never rape a woman who wears a sari. Such shallow statements are nothing but means to cover up and protect men from ever facing the reality that they are no longer living in the ‘Barbaric age’, that women are not possessions but have the same rights as they have.

For such incidents to stop, we as women need to stand united and think of each other. Every mother needs to teach her son to treat women with respect. Every woman needs to teach her daughter that she never has to compromise. Every man needs to treat his wife and daughter with the same respect he expects from them.
The series, ‘Unch Maza Zoka’ talks about women empowerment and the importance of educating women. Justice Madhav Ranade was such a driving force to bring about social reforms even in the face of severe criticism. Today, our society needs many such Justice Ranades if it needs to be, a safe and secure place for all the daughters, sisters, wives and mothers of India.

23 comments:

Ash said...

Excellent post. If women stand up for other women and be supportive, instead of holding them back, a lot can be achieved.

Bikramjit Mann said...

I think so too, women are worse enemies of women, I have seen a lot many times if one woman has gone through a lot of hardship to gain something they make sure that the other also go through the same , wheras it shud be easier for others to follow on the footsteps ..

Anjali said...

Very well written.

Radhika Mantri said...

Great post, Vinita. It is a shame that our women politicians are busy politicking, rather than standing up for victims and so many women with clout have chosen to not get involved. Women like Alka Lamba prove the point of your post. great writing as usual:-)

Jayne said...

Justice Ranade was against child marriage and yet he married an 11 year old child. Am I missing something? This post could be relevant in the U.S. where we have conservative women politicians working against women reproductive rights. There's a special hell for women who don't help other women.

Deepak said...

Indeed Vinita! Also, this is one serial that has to be viewed by all. It is such an eye opener!

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks Ash :) I feel that women do not support each other just because they want to be in the good books of men in this patriarchal society where men have all the power

Lazy Pineapple said...

So true....saas bahu is the classic example of this situation..

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks Radhika. Such politicians are there only for name and fame but don't actually want to get their hands dirty doing the real work...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Jayne...I am talking about a time when child marriage was a norm in India (it still is prevalent in many parts of India but is now considered illegal). Justice Ranade had to bow down to his family's wishes. I believe that actually turned out be a really good thing because Ramabai went on to do many great things in her life :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

thanks Deepak :) I try not to miss any episode...

Deepa said...

So rightly said. Yes, it is a matter of upbringing and mentality. Every parent should treat their children equally. I have seen in a lot of households where there are 2 kids a boy and a girl - both coming back from tuition - the mother asks the girl to bring her brother a glass of water. Why? Isn't she coming back from the same tuition that he is? How does that make her any less tired than him then? The day our society will start treating them equally will be the day women kind truly will be able to stand up for itself. The current mentality is simply being passed down generation to generation. That needs a change which will only be gradual but as you rightly said, the status of women doesn't seem to have changed much. Women tend to blame men for the oppression of women, but I feel women themselves have a huge role to play in it. Sometimes they are the abusers and at other times they suffer the abuse quietly making them soft targets all over again!

Rachna Srivastava Parmar said...

Very powerful post, Vinita. I totally agree with you. I have said this often that if women support each other, the world will be a better place for all of us. Your post is Blog Adda Tangy Tuesday pick by the way! Congrats! I wrote a post along similar lines:
http://www.rachnaparmar.com/2012/04/women-need-to-rise-up-to-this-challenge.html

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks Deepa for actually understanding what I mean to say and writing such a thoughtful comment. Unfortunately women have yet to open their eyes and realise that we are equal to men and not believe in what has been told to us for generations...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Rachna: Somehow your comment is not appearing here but I could read it in my admin panel....thanks and I have read your Post as well and commented. Thanks..

Akil said...

You've got the issue bang on. That's the inherent problem with Indian society. For women to escape the boundaries which they have been confined to, they need to begin questioning the very basis of a normal Indian conditioning.

Riicha said...

I completely agree with you on women pulling down women. Many women believe 'I suffered, now it is my turn to make the woman in my power suffer'. Can't they realize it has gotta stop somewhere, and with them. And I don't think this is an issue in India solely. Across the world, men believe a woman is the one to cook and clean for them even as they may have different callings, dress in a certain way, give up her career for kids and even give up her last name. And only since women function according to such beliefs, the world continues to think the way it does. More than men changing, I sometimes wish atleast women who can, should stand up for themselves and demand real equality.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Yes that is true....the power struggle amongst women is where men benefit...we have to wake up and smell the coffee...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks...the questioning part needs to start with every woman and then only it can move forward to her children and her grandchildren...

zephyr said...

I agree with Richa about women who can, standing up for themselves. Unfortunately it is easier to follow the herd than standing up and leading from the front, which is why these things get perpetrated. I don't watch a single serial but now I see it is a big drawback, since I miss such good ones. I will catch up with it now. Thanks :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

I feel it is safe in the herd where you don't have to stick your neck out. I also never watch any TV series but started watching it because I thought it was wonderful. Do give it a shot..am sure you will like it..

Dr Roshan R said...

I personally refuse to accept this idiotic concept of 'if she wears such dresses she is enticing them' bit... the mistake is the mind of the men, it is in the law that fails the women after the crime and yes, it is in the family mindset that keeps holding women back instead of fighting for their right to decency.


Havent really seen the serial so no idea.

Lazy Pineapple said...

That concept is so baseless..and as you said idiotic..I believe that the conditioning has to be done from childhood. Even Hindi movies should stop portraying women as objects of desire...they have a lot of influence on the mind of the younger generation..

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