We need to stop claiming that women are not to be heard. Women are to be heard, seen and listened to. Their opinions need to be understood and valued.
It is widely said that, “Women are to be seen, and not heard.” Generally, whatever is uttered repeatedly, people start believing and internalising it slowly.
Over a period of time, it becomes socially acceptable and people are expected to follow it. Like most things, it applies to the presumable lack of strong visibility of women in public spheres too.
If we go back to human history, a woman is more related to her body than her mind. Consequently, her body is both celebrated and abused. So, the world kept her busy within the sphere of her body. At the same time, while her body is celebrated, she is constantly under the pressure to look beautiful. All this thanks to the competitiveness among peers and imposed social expectations.
Thus, making her body her only identity. If her body is abused, it creates fear and restricts her physical movements. To understand this phenomenon further, let us see how she is treated in a work place where she works with male colleagues.
Before going there, it needs to be understood that it has been a difficult path for women to come of her domestic space. It has taken them a lot to come into the world of education awareness and knowledge.
However, let me not delve too much into her strenuous breakthrough into the world of paid work. I am trying to understand the conflict between her newly explored mind and much talked about body.
It is a transition from the body to the mind, which still is an incomplete task. People are still awestruck when they see a beautiful woman transform into a public intellectual.
I strongly feel, most women are yet to take their role as a full time professionals seriously. And I don’t entirely blame them for their half-heartedness. They are still hesitant to voice their opinions or reveal their full potential since they feel under-confident in front of ‘seasoned’ men.
Often, they need to request a concession from work for personal problems like juggling work and domestic responsibilities. Additionally, body issues like the monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancy and infant care take a toll on their career progression.
To add to all this, there are times when they are made to feel guilty about choosing their career over family. Women are constantly told that their primary concern is to take care of the family.
In this context, it is important to programme her mind to believe that she has to take care of her ‘true self’ first. She needs to introspect, without being judged, on what really makes her happy.
Till today, we hardly ever heard the voices of women in the public decision-making bodies. They were merely nameless voices. Even the ones who have reached the top levels in organisations reveal gender discrimination, stereotyping and not being asked while making crucial decisions.
So, it is time for women to show their true potential in all public spheres they are engaged in. For example, in ISRO, women scientists are highly appreciated for their brilliance. Similarly, in many MNCs, we find women in top management levels and doing extremely well.
Nevertheless, it is a different story in Indian politics. We find outspoken women leaders being spoken ill of, painted badly. Their images tarnished in public. Mostly, their success is always linked to patronage of some dominant male political leaders. And even if they succeed thanks to their own hard work, it is still looked cynically.
Similarly, in film and fashion industries too, women are projected glamorously and are generally labelled ‘beauty without brains.’ Moreover, these industries run on the power of women being projected through their bodies rather than their minds. So, their intelligence is generally mocked at and less appreciated.
It is a similar story in unorganised rural economy too. We find women being physically and sexually abused and later hushed up. Sadly, they stay in the same state to sustain their meagre livelihood.
However, we don’t have enough mechanisms to track these abuses. Generally, these incidents in both rural as well as urban public life, are not much spoken about, but deeply suffered.
So, women have to wake up the world of their true self and claim their mind and shed their image of a bodily person.
Picture credits: Still from Bollywood movie Highway.
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Dr. Jyothi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University College of Science, Tumkur University. Has been
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