To say that there is nothing constant as change would be to pronounce but the obvious. World has changed, life has changed, people have changed. In this changing scenario who gets the time to ponder over certain issues which affect the lives of not all- but few? If we take some time to be in solitude, to be near nature, to be with God, maybe we will realize the meaning of our life- who we are, why we have been created and what we are expected to do. Beside work, studies, or entertainment in which we mostly indulge into, there is more to life than that. Our grey cells are not only meant for such activities but also to think about things, which are not apparent or discover things that are left undiscovered. There are times when we are experiencing certain things in life and subconsciously our mind tends to register them in our memory. If we take some time to think, we are able to relate to those happenings and point out toward them. We realize that a new trend is being set, a new issue is about to be delivered. One such issue seems to be that of the changing role and status of men and women in the society.
There was a time when women started a movement for the emancipation, equality, empowerment, and liberalization of womenfolk. This feminist movement is regarded as one of the most potential human movements! Agreed! They were justified in their own way. Everyone who keeps in touch with the local and global happenings can observe the consequences of these efforts. However, it seems that in the process of liberating the womenfolk, the 'men folk' are being ignored or humbled. Soon we would be witnessing another movement- but this time the roles would be reversed. Men will start a masculinist movement for their rights and empowerment. Disagree? Well, you just need to cast a glance around you to discover the new trend that is being set. However, to fully understand the changing scene we need to glance through the past'to the present.
Whether in England, Rome, Athens, Scandinavian, and Arab countries or Asia, women were humiliated and ill-treated. This is a fact that nobody denies or debates upon. Even Encyclopaedia Britannica states: 'Subjugation of women was a cardinal principle'.
Women were not given property, political and economic rights. It was considered disrespectful for a middle or upper class woman to seek a job. Widowhood attached a stigma to women while widowers were considered prize catchers. In other words they were discriminated. This created an inferiority complex in women about their status and abilities.
In course of time many religions, writers, sociologists and preachers advocated the cause of oppressed and helpless women. The society began to accept that women too deserved respect and dignity. Gustav Gregor, the Swedish sociologist wrote: 'The position of women in a society provides an exact measure
of the development of that society.'
To quote Nixon, 'The full and equal participation of women is crucial to the strength of the country.'
Somehow, the employment of women became an index of emancipation of women. Equal rights became synonymous with equality between men and women in all aspects. This in itself is a debatable topic as to whether we should presume that employment accords women the same or equal status as that of men, that is, whether we should assume that outside employment of women is the means of achieving equal rights and emancipation. Those women are in a better position to answer this question that are working and at the same time living a life of humiliation, fear and dissatisfaction. It would be our foolishness to take just employment level of women as an index of emancipation and empowerment of women.
However, society began to recognize the power of women since late 19th century. The socio-economic conditions changed and with those wide opportunities in education, employment and training were provided to womenfolk. Their cause was highlighted throughout the world. They were provided with new avenues to explore their talents and capabilities. Various promotional schemes were framed specifically for them. Women thus emerged out of their inferiority complex. This was true to a large extent in case of rural as well as urban women. The world witnessed women working in various professions or services. This led to the emergence of a woman who was self-confident, liberated, and educated. Gradually, women were given preference in some jobs. Sometimes even merit considerations were ignored.
And now the time has come when women are given preference in most of the jobs and they are given special treatment in many respects. Girls get extra support, feedback, and encouragement. Women workers are comparatively cheaper and pose fewer demands, or so it is believed. Board a bus and you will witness men offering their 'hard earned' seat to females (who have developed it a habit of expecting one as their birth right!). Join a queue in any institution or department and you will find men waiting for their turns, which never come as long as women are around. Enter any office or shop and you will find women getting all the attention and privileges. Read employment advertisements and you will come across ads were mostly 'females will be preferred' is stated. Modern women seem to have an inbuilt superiority because they can run the house as well as the office.
In an issue of The Atlantic Monthly, there was a 12-page article published titled, 'It's a bad time to be a boy in America'. Lionel Tiger in his book 'The Decline of Males' (1999) voiced his fears that men seem to be becoming unnecessary both in the domestic as well as the work sense. These are very petty things in a way but they do indicate something. The way things are shaping up it looks like the position of men is slumping away. They hint towards a future trend and a warning!
The former Prime Minister, the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi rightly said: 'The jobs should rightly belong to the most able; not to men or women, but to individuals.'
Just because a woman belongs to the 'weaker' sex, she is given preference in employment. This is no proper way of advocating a cause at the risk of emergence of a new one. This should be no reason to prefer her to any other better capable man just because he does not belong to her 'weaker' group. Does this mean that to earn their rights, men have to go through the same 'hell' as women did? Is it necessary that there has to be a 'superior' sex and a 'weaker' one? Can't all people accept the fact that no one is superior to another in terms of gender? Superiority can be gained in terms of thoughts, deeds, mental abilities and talents-it does not have to do with gender. People need to understand the 'difference' between men and women- a difference that does not and should not imply the supremacy of one over the other. Men and women are different- biologically as well as psychologically. Equality should be advocated for both genders; otherwise each will feel demoralized in their respective turns. Female rise is definitely good as long as it does not cause male decline. Both need encouragement and support according to their willingness and capabilities. Gender should not play any role there. Such imbalances have an adverse affect on human relations, domestic life, and society.
It is said: 'It is the nature of mankind to learn from mistakes and not from examples.'
As the mistake of discriminating women has been done in the past, it is reasonable enough not to repeat it on men. Hence, if both men and women start thinking well for the other, many of future disputes and problems could be avoided, not to talk of liberation movements!