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Another International Women’s Day has gone by and as it often happens I became pensive about the status of women in our country. What kind of freedom do women really have regarding their career choices or life style preference? A look around me tells me that while women have come a long way from what they were some 40 years back but they still have a long way to go.
The egoistic male mentality cannot accept the fact that women may no longer depend on them for financial or emotional support. They perhaps prefer women to remain “damsels in distress” needing the protection of a father, brother, husband or son. A woman who tries to break from the accepted version of womanhood is perceived as a threat to the projected chauvinistic image that men enjoy.
A girl known to me had seen her father struggle to make ends meet. With the packet milk taking over, the milk dairy that her father ran from the premises of his ancestral home had to be shut down. As it happens ever so often, relatives thought that the family’s future was doomed. The girl took it on herself to help her father recover. Being a bright student she won scholarships to support her college education. She earned her pocket allowance by coaching school children. With time her father’s fortunes changed for the better when the travel agency that he started picked up.
The girl wanted to show the world that they had recovered from their temporary setback. But every wish of hers was vetoed by the father. He had his reasons, the most important being that he did not want a repeat of his days of misfortune. However, objecting to every justified demand was taking things too far. He came across as dominating, egoistic and paranoid all at the same time. His wife was caught in the cross fire between father and daughter.
While I can understand the caution exercised by the father, I also feel sorry for the young girl who was unable to convince her father that she wants him to put his days of struggle behind him and it was not a sin to want to live well. Even if he preferred an austere life style for himself, he could certainly not object to his daughter spending her hard earned money on herself. In all probability the girl would stop splurging money after the initial euphoria subsided.
The above example raised a lot of uneasy questions in my mind. Why do men feel insecure when their womenfolk wish to take charge? Have we failed to give our boys the right kind of emotional training? How often have we heard of fathers, brothers and husbands refusing to give women the credit that is their due? Is this is partly due to the fact that society looks down upon men who are openly appreciative of women who shaped their personality and lives.
In the above mentioned example was the father just being over cautious or was there any other valid reason for his refusing remodel their kitchen and replace curtains or furniture? Was there something like the famous Stockholm syndrome playing in his mind? Like women in captivity who prefer the torture meted out by their tormentors to a well deserved freedom did this man also prefer to live in penury accepting it as the only kind of life that he had ever known? Or was it male ego that refused to acknowledge his daughter’s contribution towards the uplifting of the family? Was this attitude due to the fact that his own mother and wife had always pampered and nurtured his ego and he was unable to accept the fact that his daughter had a mind of her own?
Be it as it may, I am glad that the young girls who are being prepared to take their place in society know their mind and willingly take responsibility for their action. I only hope that when their turn comes they train their sons to accept and acknowledge the complimentary role played by women in shaping society. Unless there is mutual respect and men and women are considered as equal partners in their families, workplace and society the growth and development of a community is bound to be skewed.
The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its
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