Every year, March 8 is “Women’s Day”. Therefore, decided to post on gender issues today. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is: “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” Am again sharing an old post that I had posted three years ago, on March 3, on my FB page 🙂
Coming to the topic of “Women’s Rights” – my favorite topic of late 😉 I want to clarify a few things, and for clarity’s sake, I want to make this rather simplistic statement:
Battle for Women’s Rights = (Women + Good Guys) versus Bad Guys
I think that it’s important for women to admire and acknowledge the “Good Guys” because they’re a minority (in India), and very important allies in this battle. And the biggest problem lies in identifying the “Bad Guys” because all guys pretend to be “Good Guys”. 🙁
The second biggest problem seems to be that even the “Good Guys” seem to be quite unaware of the day to day hassles and discrimination women face and seem to think that all is rosy and fine. I can’t relate recent experiences because I’m spending most of my time at home in front of the computer, but we all read about the different incidents happening around us.
However, I have some very interesting experiences from my college days that I can share. Right after Std 10, I joined a college that was erroneously recommended to me by a well-wisher, because it was very good at getting “ranks”.
This college had been a “boys only” college for many years and had only recently started admitting girls. Thanks to this, the mostly male faculty and administration had very little experience and knowledge of co-existing with women, though they tried very hard.
Since I was from a well balanced co-ed school, it was a very baffling and exasperating experience for me. The first issue was with the “freedom of seating”. They made a rule that girls could sit only on the first two benches and nowhere else. Having been a last or penultimate bencher most of my life, apart from being discriminatory, this rule was terrifying for me. I protested that girls should be given equal rights as the boys to sit where they pleased, but they didn’t agree. 🙁
Next, I was always interested in quizzing and had been a member of my school quiz team, so I formed a team with two other classmates – who happened to be guys, and we attended a few inter-college quizzes (bunking classes because we couldn’t hope to get permission for them since studies and ranks were all that was important). After doing well in a few quizzes and winning prizes, we wrongly thought that the college authorities might be happy about it and asked them for formal permission to attend the next quiz.
What came next was totally unexpected (!!): I was told that it would not be possible for them to give permission only to me, because they couldn’t let a girl along with two other boys go around town attending quizzes!! :O I was also given a talking to in private warning me of the dangers. This was unimaginably ridiculous because the two other teammates were really nice, and decent fellows. In addition, I had been a member of my school quiz team for many years, and all my teammates had been boys – we had never spared a thought regarding our genders then.
However, the last straw was “Women’s Day”. 🙁 The administration decided to hold a “women’s day” function to make the girls happy. This was also ridiculous because their idea was to have cooking, vegetable carving, table setting, painting, etc. and other suchlike competitions on this day – and that too only for girls! I refused to participate in any of those competitions and tried to convince the other girls that they also shouldn’t unless these competitions were open to the boys as well. However, only some girls agreed with me.
Not surprisingly, I realized that I didn’t “fit” into this place and shifted to another college the following year – losing a year in that process :(. However, this illustrates how narrow mindsets were and I wonder how much has really changed. Of course, there are many progressive pockets in India, but there are many more regressive places. If all this happened with me in a metro, one can imagine what circumstances would have been like in small towns, and villages.
Apart from the above-mentioned problems, there are even more serious issues like female foeticide, infanticide, eve-teasing (it was a day to day occurrence in Bangalore), gang rapes, dowry deaths, and domestic violence, etc. that need to be addressed. It’s very important not to turn a blind eye to them and assume they don’t exist.