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A youtube video of storyteller Vishaka Hari making the rounds calls women gold that needs to be preserved, while men are stainless steel taking on the world.
Vishaka Hari, a Carnatic music vocalist and proponent of Harikatha, is well-known as a storyteller in the Kathakalakshepam format. She spoke about the liberation of women in India at one of her events and it is safe to say that her idea of feminism or liberation are not just old, but erroneous.
With this video doing the rounds, I thought it’s time to take a closer look.
The video begins with her talking about the need for women’s liberation in West unlike India. She says that in the West, women were not at par with men and thus there was a need for advancement, while in India she says, there was never a problem. She makes the argument that women didn’t have voting rights in the West till recently. The US Constitution was amended in 1920 granting all woman suffrage – well, until then, even men in India hadn’t achieve suffrage to compare. She makes another point by saying that in the West, women were treated like objects for amusement; well, in India too, the concept of treating women as objects merely for carnal pleasures is not new. In a country where women aren’t allowed at a place of worship if on her regular menstrual cycle or have to fear going out after daylight for fear of one’s safety, she says there’s no need for liberation of women – I don’t think she’s making a very good point.
Vishaka Hari later calls women gold, and men stainless steel, and hence she says women are rightfully locked up, so as to preserve them. So when women ask why do they not have equal rights as men, she tells them they are gold and that’s why they have less rights out of respect. The more you respect a person, the rights come down. But is it so? Is the limitation on women out of respect for them? No, the limitation comes out of a narrow concept of love, respect and dignity. When you truly respect someone you don’t cage them under the guise of protecting their dignity, you rather respect them in the sense of respecting their decisions for themselves.
And what is the dignity of women she’s talking about? The dignity that’s implanted in her body and needs to be protected from the outside world? Aren’t we going backwards with this argument in time that women are no humans with equal mind and rights but some beautiful body, equated with gold, that needs to preserved? If you call them wise, why do you need to shut them up? Why are you so afraid of the choices they make for themselves? Why do you make her sit on a pedestal, and belittle her silently, instead of just letting her stay human?
Women are gold, for they are precious, just like any other human soul. Women are also stainless steel, with the strength to can take on the world.
So when Hari says in the video that problem is not just with the other gender, but with women also in bringing women down, I can’t blame the sentence after listening her talk!