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Centuries of oppression makes us think that we cannot do anything to better our situation; our spirits are broken, and we are chained by invisible chains.
We all have heard the story of how the mahout trains the elephants for a circus. How they are captured when they are still small and tied to a pole with a metal chain. The baby elephants naturally try to walk away but can’t. They pull and push and twist and turn but eventually figure out that they just aren’t strong enough to break free.
Over a period of time, after several futile attempts the baby elephant gets accustomed to its limitations. It accepts its fate and stays where it is, even after growing old. If only they knew that they have grown and have become too powerful for the metal chain! But by now the mahout has successfully tamed them and broken their spirit. Now they no longer resist the shackles.
When I was narrating this story to my daughter as our bed time ritual, I couldn’t believe how I have never espied the analogy before. Just like the mahout killed the elephants’ spirit, similarly the worst thing patriarchy has done to women is that it has broken down our spirits and narrowed our visions of ourselves and our lives, making most of us feel subordinate to our male counterparts. We were, or should I say we are still deprived of basics rights for so long now, that we consider our oppression, normal.
How else will you explain women being treated as a commodity and used for barter? Think about the Sati Pratha which refused to give even rights of existence to women after the death of her husband, her ‘overlord’. How even in the last century when democracy was being established in the developed countries, men didn’t think it necessary to giving the equal right to vote to women.
Steve Taylor, Ph.D, is a British author and lecturer in psychology who has written several books on psychology and spirituality. In his book The Fall, he has written that “The oppression of women stems largely from men’s desire for power and control. The same need which, throughout history, has driven men to try to conquer and subjugate other groups or nations, and to oppress other classes or groups in their own society, drives them to dominate and oppress women. Since men feel the need to gain as much power and control as they can, they steal away power and control from women. They deny women the right to make decisions so that they can make them for them, leave women unable to direct their own lives so that they can direct their lives for them. Ultimately, they’re trying to increase their sense of significance and status.”
Which is so true! The men of our world presumed that the earth has evolved for their pleasure and everything else was designed to accord their stay here. They automatically subjugated the entire planet. Thus the dawn of patriarchy began. Just think: what is the ratio of men and women in the world, and what is the ratio of men and women who hold key leadership positions across streams? It is skewed across all major spectrums.
In the prehistoric age sexual division of labor originated because it is the female that carries the child. That is why they worked closer to caves making them ‘the gatherer’ who gathered plants, fruits, nuts etc. to eat, and the men became ‘the hunter’ and went out for several days to hunt. They gained expertise in their respective areas over time but the roles were divided based on need and not gender.
As we advanced through various ages, patriarchy used child bearing as a pole to tie down women, and our role of a caregiver for both the young and elderly became our metal chain. Over decades of advancements and growth we have somehow forgotten that the chain is no longer strong enough to hold us back. The centuries of personal slavery has killed our sense of freedom and spirit.
The lack of knowledge, awareness, and exposure at the grass root level has made most women inadequate to even perceive that they are being oppressed. We have just accepted inequality, ‘eve teasing’, rape, marital abuse, domestic violence, female foeticide, dowry and the objectification of our bodies. To top it all, we ourselves are held responsible by society for all these demons.
It is a vicious cycle of oppression, carried forward from civilization to civilization. Men oppress women for power and control, in turn oppressed women oppress other women for whatever little power and control they can get their hands on. Things are improving for sure; the very fact that I can write something like this is a proof. But in our fortunes we tend to forget the work that still needs to be done. If you take a deeper look you will be aghast to see the gruesome reality.
The solution to this problem is empowerment. Men and women are two sides of the same coin there is no question of superiority or inferiority. The government and the system is and will be initializing enforcement’s and laws on its own pace but we also have to make an effort and educate ourselves and be aware.
Let the elephant in you know that now you have grown up, and that chain cannot hold you back anymore. It’s time to unleash the elephant in you!
Published here earlier.
Image source: By SERPEditor (Photograph at a Meeting) [CC BY 3.0, GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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