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Women As People: Not Just Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Or Wives!

Posted: August 23, 2014

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Do we see women as people, and not just mothers, daughters, sisters, or wives? This fantastic article explains the need to see women as individuals with their own rights.

Women are oftentimes considered to be a valuable part of the society due to the important roles they play and the duties they perform. But we need to move one step ahead, and talk about their person hood and rights as well.

Gender plays a strong role in dictating the kind of roles and norms one has to follow in his/her life. It is a sort of social conditioning that dictates the way one sees oneself. This also means that the ways by which we negotiate our demands and rights from the society becomes gendered.

To explain this, let us talk about how women are seen as exceedingly emotional beings who are deeply attached to their families and ergo, are often considered to be “naturally” close with the private sphere. This is called biological determinism, and is very pernicious, as it puts people into rigid categories that do not allow fluidity.

Women are contrasted with the men who are thought to be rational, unemotional, and thus,f it to govern the activities taking place outside the home.The women who are then confined in the house are the backbone of the economic and political activities since their taking care of the household chores and responsibilities gives the men freedom to not think about any domestic issue while they are out in the public sphere.

What the above line of thinking does is that those women who seek to participate in the outside activities face heavy resistance. Even if the societal resistance is low, the dual responsibilities of the house and the work place (due to the erroneous and convenient assumption of a biological closeness of women to the household) make multitasking difficult for them. And if they fail to balance both these worlds, it is then assumed that women are naturally weak and were not fit to handle outside activities in the first place and thus,they should be confined to domesticity.

For centuries,women have been seen with respect to their relationship with men. The gendering that starts as soon as they are born, gives them a title of “nurturers” and their gender roles are defined accordingly. So the man goes out to hunt, and the women take care of his food and children. The identity of  a woman is thus, seen to be attached to other people dependent on them. And here, starts the stereotyping!

The family is often considered to be the seat of inequality.

The ever-loving mother and wife who stays hungry so that she can feed the rest of her family,t he understanding sister who is okay with not attending school so that the brother can,and so on. The family is often considered to be the seat of inequality. The assumption that intra-household distribution of goods and care is equal has long been proved to be faulty.

Many girl children and women in India face malnutrition and poor health due to the fact that the share of food and health care given to men and boys is much more. Thus,we can see that the rights that women have as human beings are often curbed to the gender notions of a self sacrificing woman in the family.

This does not mean that women should be seen as people without relationships, as that would be absurd.What feminists have tried to do for quite some time, is to stress on the way people should see a woman with rights of her own. Another reason that this is important is due to the way respect is often seen as something that is conditional.

The mother-whore dichotomy is problematic not just for the women but also for the way society operates.

So, women who adhere to the stereotypes of good mothers, sisters,wives ,etc. are considered to be deserving of the respect of the society, but those that do not fit into these categories, are often looked upon with doubt and treated with disrespect. This leads to assaults, abuse, and violation of rights. The mother-whore dichotomy is problematic not just for the women but also for the way society operates.Women internalize these harmful definitions and their self worth is then dependent on the way society deems fit.

Thus,the next time you feel like appreciating a woman,try looking at her from a  different perspective. She is more than just a mere support system for you and/or your family.

Pic credit: onepointfour (Used under a CC license)

This article was first published here.

An engineer. Has worked in the IT industry for a while and then decided to

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