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Anna Karenina And What Modern Age Brings For Women

Posted: September 3, 2020

A social commentary on women’s quest for equality.

Pestsov promptly started a new conversation: “The education of women, for instance, would naturally be regarded as likely to be harmful. Women are deprived of rights from lack of education, and the lack of education results from absence of rights. We must not forget that the subjection of women is so complete, and dates from such ages back that we are often unwilling to recognize the gulf that separates them from us”

Sergey Ivanovitch put in his word without waiting, “You mean rights, meaning the right of sitting on juries and voting. But if women occupy such positions, one can only sympathize with this desire to assist in the general labor of man.”

Alexey Alexandrovitch broke in, “The question is whether they are fitted for such duties.”

Pestsov said, “Duties are bound up with rights – power, money, honor, those are what women are seeking.”

This scene unfolds at the Stephen Arkadyevitch’s house in a house party hosted by his partner Darya, elder sister of Kitty, one of the protagonists in this classic ‘Anna Karenina. The novel is written by much revered Russian author Leo Tolstoy. The once benumbing chill in the room fades when Arkadyevitch enters the setting and joy surrounds, until the conversation veers into women and their position in a society.

Present day relevance

This novel was published in the year 1878. Not much has changed since then and we have seen many Pestsov and Ivanovitches over centuries, pelting stones on the thought of uplifting women and giving them equal and fair rights. I chose to fish out the excerpt from this novel because not only it is a classic but serves as a classic example of what the past generations have thought about women’s role in a society. How upsetting they all have been!

Women and the talk of their rights are often ridiculed or subjected to judgement. It doesn’t matter where the conversation is taking place. Be it in closed confines of one’s room or be it over evening tea, or be it in the board room, the rights of women did not come in the priorities of mankind. And even today, this grim reality reverberates in the corridors of society and echoes the extreme disparity in women’s rights.

But this modern era, though it is folded with murky layers and shadows of unkempt promises to liberate women and give them equal rights to put in their feet in the areas where only men’s existence played dominant, sees some change of air in the mindsets of people. The social fabric gets a makeover and some of the arenas welcome women on par with men.

The ongoing journey towards “equality”

Historically, the female gender has been concentrated in certain jobs but due to the changing times, they are seen engaging themselves in many roles like combat and defense roles, manufacturing, technology, politics, research, media and many others, thereby offering them a road to build their identity. The rights are revised now approving women to enter in such fields and not be judged on their gender but only on their capability and individual merit.

So, lets read about how changing mindsets have regarded women and have broken the barrier which paved the way to familial and professional relationships to see a huge leap in understanding and growth.

Now it is year 2020 and though there are gravels and stones in the path of women, few aspects that I write below will give you a drift on how far we have come from Karenina times and how thankful we should be for this phase.

Equality in the battlefront

As I said, women have entered into the roles that welcomed and designed only for men since time immemorial. For example, Army and defense. We will see more parity over patriarchy here in this field as the Supreme Court has chalked out a rule which says women army officers will serve as equals and are eligible for command posts and permanent commissions. The battlefront will see more women in the forefront which is a welcome change.

Change in household dynamics

The household dynamics have changed with more and more men participating in household chores. The patriarchal society that we lived in the past will take time to fade off from the present but society has now warmed up to the new idea of men chipping in and giving their hand in helping women in the household chores.

There are also men who call themselves as stay at home working dads. With more and more women stepping into workforce and returning to their career, it becomes difficult to gain a complete balance with house chores, kids and professional demands. So, some men take a backseat and support their spouses leading them to go out and attain their professional goals while them acting as hands on dad and balancing their own career by staying at home. This phenomenon is still in a nascent stage but many metropolitan cities have embraced this idea.

Also, migration has played a big role in people moving out of their large, joint families and setting up their own independent house in an apartment. More and more families are signing off from the age-old custom of living in a joint family setup towards a nuclear set up. This is also one more reason for men of this generation to support women at home.

Platforms for flexible options for women

Many women want to resume their jobs and build their professional life again. Having their foot at the right place is very important when they set to restart their career. Many platforms come to their rescue and make it easier for those women who are looking for a head start. They not only give them jobs but also give them flexible options like working from home, putting few hours for their professional demands, and give women a choice to choose the role they want to engage themselves in.

Web series and cinema focusing more on women

Cinema helps one broaden their views by mirroring the realities. The fraternity of cinema not only devote their life for a moment of entertainment but also offer us a vivid picture of sensitive issues encircling the societal conflicts, issues based on women and children and much more. Also, the web series has been extremely vocal in expressing the realities that centers women. Both web series and cinema are resolute in its approach when it comes to women and the issues faced by them, making the society witness the oppression and discontent and taking steps to curtail the same.

Carry on fighting stereotypes

As we step into 2020, we see many women come this far by challenging stereotypes, fighting biases, broadening their perspectives on themselves and the world around them, still there are some portion of women left to embrace the gender-equal world and some are in dire need to see the gender-equal world. The latter will see when the society will improve the mindsets collectively and bruise and rupture that part of society which still doesn’t shy away from contriving and suffocating women with their fragile egos and flawed notions.

If German theater practitioner Bertolt Brecht quotes, “In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing about the dark times”, I would like to add few more lines to it and end it in a hopeful note.

“There will be singing about the dark times, there will also be expressing the dark times through art and music, and as we express, there is hope. Let’s soak in the hope that the dark times will be erased from the history of women.”

First published here.

Image source: Unsplash

A writer/Educator and Spanish Language trainer. Loves Reading, Music and Art. Favorite Author is

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