Monday, March 7, 2016

Unheard voice of a woman!

Fortunately, most of the people I met in my life, whether it be professional or personal life, provided equal opportunities, in almost all circumstances. Therefore, I personally don't have immediate complaints on my family or profession. I have a great parental family who gave me highest education of a Ph. D. and I have been blessed with an amazing husband who not only supports my career unconditionally, but also shares every responsibility including house-hold work 50-50. I am making this remark because the moment people read this blog they start judging that there is something wrong with my family or profession. I can't change what you judge, but before judging me, just think, this piece of writing could represent an unheard voice of your mothers, your wives, your sisters or your own if you are a woman.

On this women's day, in this post I would like to express my thoughts of being an independent woman. From my childhood I was known as a feminist. I always fought for my rights. At home, whenever my granny used to set special rules for being a girl, I tried to educate her. Although I could not change what she believed, I was quite successful in protecting myself from following those rules.

However, I do have complaints on the society in general where I see un-acceptable discrimination. Hence, with a perspective to look at a broader aspect of the society, here are my humble view on how it works as of today-//2016.

I must tell you at this stage that I would be polarized to think of what I have seen directly. I do not promise to address all the points. Mostly I write on what I have noticed. My short background for this purpose is, I hail from south India, all my education including Ph.D. in astrophysics in Karnataka, and now doing my post-doctoral research in Germany.

Indian society or the society of the world in general, although has evolved to an extent that at least middle and higher class families allow girl child to go to school, study, work if interested (assuming that the girl child is allowed to born), but in social standards women are treated as second grade citizens. They are suppressed from such a long time that now some women themselves feel they are bound to be subordinates of a man. If there is a revolutionary thought inside a woman and if she dares to ask, she is considered to be a hot headed arrogant, selfish woman!

The main question I am addressing here is the IDENTITY of a woman. Why a woman is taken for granted always? Why isn't she respected for what she is! Why is her identity unimportant? This problem, to my surprise, is international. After staying in Germany for 3 years now, and after interacting with women belonging to several nationalities, I realized that the problems below are common in every country.
  • It doesn't matter what extreme character a man has, such as he being a alcoholic or a loser in some sense, the children always get name of their father. Why no one thinks of including mother's name for recognizing a kid?  Why all the efforts she puts in giving birth, raising the kids have to be like the fruit behind the leaves? Once upon a time when the man was the bread-earner of the family and the women were uneducated, didn't go out of the house, it made a little sense that no one would knew her and hence children get father's name. But now? 
  • A man always remains fixed with his origins, let it be his parents, his place of birth, his house of birth etc. But a woman 'should' change everything as though she is made of clay. I am not saying this is wrong. Perhaps sometimes it is convenient like that for both husband and wife. But doesn't this be made an option? But why it is a 'must'? why not it is a 'can'? If a woman wants to be recognized by her parents, her birth place, or the identity that she has earned on her own, what the hell is wrong with that? Now a days for people travel a lot for their jobs. When both man and the woman leave their birth place and make a living in a new place, it doesn't really make sense that she is recognized by the birth place of the man. Is this logical? Passport also requires that the person lives in that place for 5 years to be recognized by that address. 
  • Normally marriage is about closeness. And when two people are emotionally too close they feel comfortable being addressed singularly. But in some villages, even this is a problem, not to the couple, but to the older people. They insist that the woman should have a plural addressing for her husband, the reason for this being, otherwise the society thinks she doesn't respect her husband! What about respecting the woman? Does it really matter?
  • Even today people raise their eyebrows if a woman wants to support her parents financially even if she is doing that from her own earned money. Parents educate their girl child in the same way they educate boy child. But why only it is the responsibility of the son to look after his parents? Why can't she be a helping hand to her brother? Even parents think it is not good to be supported by their daughter. They feel shy! And then the daughter should be afraid of helping her own parents and she must do it secretly. Is this the culture we should be proud of?
  • The household work and motherhood is completely considered to be a woman's duty, internationally. At least in growing economy like India earning of a woman is considered as extra income and is supported, even if not respected always. Further, family support during child birth is an added advantage. However, in the west a woman becomes responsible for all the household and motherhood that she is abandoned from giving jobs! She is discriminated outright! Even in India how many men share the household work without being ashamed of it? Why are men so egoistic and ruthless to let the woman do everything at home and outside, in order to balance the home and to bring income to the family? 
In this evolving world, when women are being educated, have earned their identity like a man earns it, why are these customs also EVOLVE and REFORM? In this current world, everyday we have software updates for mobiles, computers, laptops, tablets. Why are these outdated customs remain hundreds of years old? Why aren't they updated? When it is so obvious for some things, why is it so difficult to implement these ideas in our lives? Why after marriage a woman is expected to forget what she is of her own?

An independent woman like me, who has put lot of efforts to become independent, undergoes a lot of churning in own head, lot of interactions with knowledgeable, successful people, finally leading to a set of thoughts which she assumes to be solutions of all the questions she had from childhood. And there comes a time, when she goes from a completely protected environment to the 'real' world, where she faces strong opposition to all these ideas, trying to prove she is wrong! She must start all over again! Where does this end?

A man who respects women will be respected and loved much more. A woman can love her husband and family madly, balance work-family life, yet keeping her identity and self-respect unhurt. It is possible, if you want to. If you think you can bring a change in this respect, why not?


L. S. said...

I think you should do more research in this topic. I think you know that the ultimate god in Hindu is maa gurga. Then why she (women) is made to change her house after marriage? Even today, eldest women in the family controls the family. Every bahu complain about her saas not the sasur!!!!!! Why? Who says doing household works inferior to any other works? My answer is women are good managers and can do any work if they think. So they manage home which is the building block of the society. The children grow up with their mother. What they are when they are grown up mostly rest on their mother. Don't you think this is the most difficult work in the world. After doing all these, women feel that they are not respected. This is mainly because they expect that men should appreciate them for what they are doing. Men are men. Don't know to appreciate. Women feel sad for that. Over a period of time this converts into helplessness. If you start doing the things for you then these problems will automatically solve. First and the foremost is that do not expect. Do the work which you only feel like to do. If you cook today that means you feel like cooking. Don't cook if don't like. Self respect is not the one to be given. It is to be taken. Have fun.

Anusha L S said...

Thank you for this comment. But I should write here that you have primitive ideas on this whole topic!

For your point on Durga, I am a scientist. I don't believe in God! And the stories on maa Durga are written by human beings like me and you.

For your point on household work I never said it is of less importance. I said for working women they can't do everything both inside and outside. It helps a lot, if man extends a helping hand. If a woman chooses to be at home instead to go out and work it is fine. But she should not be taken for granted. But I know many men who think that if they share household work they are ashamed of it. What the society thinks of them? My point was it is men who think household work is inferior.

You are extremely biased in thinking that children grow up with their mother. I don't know which part of the world you are from, but it is obvious for me that both mother and father are important for a kid. I am more like my father.

It is not always that women expect man to appreciate. I am concentrating here on the aspect of respect not appreciation. Disrespecting and not appreciating are two different things. On the one hand, who doesn't need appreciation. If you are not appreciated at work and your boss says that you do your duty because you like it, you won't be paid for your work, would you go to work the next day? On the other hand disrespecting is a completely different thing. What worries me is that women are taken for granted for these and they are overlooked in the society. They are labeled for motherhood and are deprived from following their dreams. Wake up!

For your point on self-respect, of course it is not to be given. But when a woman sticks to what she believes, society opposes and tries to hurt her and her self-respect! It takes lot of energy to swim opposite to the river flow than to swim along with it. When society opposes, it is like swimming against the stream. If the society supports it, it feels much better, and she can concentrate on other things instead of getting distracted from this kind of pain!!!

Wageesh Mishra said...

I liked your writing and its really very true analysis!! Agreed with almost all the points however few questions came to my mind. Thanks for such a articulated post.
Most of the questions you raised is because we have lived in patriarchal society. So there is a need to change the society. Only changing the symptoms cannot treat the root problem of inequality built over ages. However, even today women seem to be supporting patriarchal trend.

Contrary to your view, I have noticed only few women are ready to help their parents and brothers and assume that its only the responsibility of a boy. Why? Why house-hold work is considered inferior by our society including women? How many women can feel proud on her husband if he is sitting at home and working hard?
Your view on "surname" and of course for children names is a good question and probably its answer lie in biology, genetics and history.... However, I do not support this in favor of social justice. It might have been started to make address, paperwork easy and to avoid confusion by saying simply "Mr. and Mrs. XYZ". I can say husband can also change the name as its only the label is changing and package does not. Earlier it was started for identification purpose not for identity.
Its possible that our ancestors had realized that women move to her husband's house after marriage is best because the quality such as adaptability is more for women. So she can adjust with the new situations very fast compared to men adjusts with a new circumstance. However, this should not be reducing to only one family.

I believe that women will take lead role in family and change the system with time, however they are not doing this enough now.
[My all the ideas are on majority of observations and exceptions are always there.]

Anusha L S said...

I agree with you Wageesh. Yes, women also need to contribute equally in this equality debate.

For this to achieve, women must be educated first. Even many educated women think like you have observed, unfortunately. For this to change, women must become independent, both financially and emotionally! They shouldn't be like parasites.

This problem of women being parasites has some of its roots at the home where a girl child is born. If parents raise their kids boy or girl the same way, if they teach importance of being independent to the girl child from the beginning some of these can change. Parents must teach her to be independent instead of telling her that one day she will be married anyway. When parents treat her this way, she tends to think that she can depend on the men of the house (father and/or brother) as long as she is unmarried, and after marriage she becomes dependent on husband. For this to change, parents themselves must evolve in their thinking. Parents should teach kids to equally (boy or girl), share the responsibilities of the house from the beginning.

I know that many customs are the result of patriarchy society. But as I said, it is so outdated that these customs also need to be updated!