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Women: Subjectivity of Femininity in India
|by Pt. Srikant Mohanty|
In the seventies and eighties, there was a tradition in rural Odisha, which still exist in some parts of this state of India. Any newly married girl in a village sought the blessings of the elderly women by consenting to drink the water from their feet that were called “paduka”. The wash water was taken in a pot by someone in the family by collecting it from the feet of the elderly ladies and given to the girl as blessings and she drank it because the water from the feet could give her good offspring particularly sons. The time period of practice of this superstition cannot be determined but it is sure it is one of the practices that began few centuries back. It was said by drinking water of the holy feet of the womenfolk, she would give birth to deserving sons, who would serve their motherland in various fields. This was practiced at the time, when women moved on the dusty and filthy roads of the villages without any footwear.
The village, where this practice was observed, gives a complete contradictory picture of the thoughts about blessings in reality. In its history of last sixty years, the “paduka” drinking women have given birth to hundreds of sons and their achievements in the different fields are negligible. In the last sixty years, only four males have qualified in various competitive examinations but records about illiteracy, poverty and crimes are outstanding.
While slogans are being written by coining words like “India shining” or “India-another superpower”, fair-sex still stands fettered to the depravity of age old practices. In a remarkable statement, an extremely qualified man justifies the torture on women by quoting the lines from the holy book- “Sundara Kanda” by revered guru Swami Tulsi Das.
“Dhola, gabara, sudra, Pashu, nari, sakala tadana ke adhikari” meaning “Dhola-the musical drum” , “gabara- the illiterates, “ Sudra-the lower castes”, “Pashu- the beasts” and “nari- women in general” deserve beating from time to time. This remark is always mentioned by men with closed fists about to fall on the backs of the women, whenever there is an ill-treatment of the women.
But despite the severity of the treatment meted out to women, femininity in India stands remarkably transformed. When three obese boys are noticed in every group of ten, girls have gone on to become winners time and again in the titles for beauty competitions in world championships. Girls are often found shedding inhibitions and wonderfully keeping pace with the changes of time, while boys show least regard for their flow of adrenaline and courage for meritorious works. A girl is topper in most of the competitions, while boys are over-aggressive and frustrated in everything that requires hard work, discipline and courage. Over the years, this is evident in the shortage of officers in the armed forces of India.
In this context, years back a top officer in the Indian Army commented something, worth mentioning. While participating in a parachute jump from the air-craft, the girls in the group performed the feat without any trace of fear, while the boys in the group had stepped back in trepidation. This performance by a group of cadets of National Cadet Crops in the eighties served as a beckon for the change in the femininity for better.
Although much has changed in the transforming state of feminism, masculinity remains deeply rooted in hedonism and age-old bias towards females. Taking cue from the lines from “Sundara kand”, adulthood in males’ remains perpetually inclined towards committing wrongs against women. There is sort of rebellion in the attitude of boys in India, while it comes to dealing with sensitivity in women. This is evident, when one brutal rape in New Delhi takes place, surges of repetitive acts sweep across the length and breadth of the nation.
Ironically, when it comes particularly to any quid pro quo, a female deity is assigned the role-model. A woman represents “Laxmi- Goddess of wealth” if she gets wealth and she becomes “SaraswatI-the Goddess of learning”, when she shows her erudition in subjects. She is “Sati-the Goddess of Chastity”, when she is pushed and burnt alive in the funeral pyre of her husband. She is “Rati- the Goddess of sex”, when she is subjected to the unlimited libido by her husband and other beings, who want to shower her with affection for a return favor in bed. She is exemplified in her role as Goddess Durga , when the totality of male hood falls short of power and courage to kill a demon and seeks her help to eradicate the wily demon “Mahisasura”.
From time immemorial, she is merely treated as an icon of receipts for various needs of depravity of males. It is evident that she is never treated as a human-being, who deserves a seat alongside the males. A twenty year girl seeks friendship with this author in a social networking site but when asked about her photo and identity, she tells the latter that her younger brother has threatened her with dire consequences if she gives her photo on the site. The words of her younger brother are final and cannot be turned back in her household. The girl is a brilliant student in engineering, who needs the kind consent of her younger brother to post her photo and details in the social networking site. Later in one of the discussions, she reveals that she has already been raped thrice by her younger brother and the cranky incestuous bastard wants to hide her under a superficial cloak of protection. He runs to his parents alleging misconduct by her if he finds that she has slight inclination for any other male. Her parents react, beat and warn her because they believe that ultimately her brother would remain protector for everything in her life and living. They adhere to their views that the boy is definitely wiser and intelligent in the worldly affairs but she is only an “abala-a woman” and therefore “durbala- weaker”.
The west only considers the Indian men as grown up kids, while the visiting females from the other parts of the world find the males in India ogling at their private parts that is utterly in a bad-taste. Like the “dhak dhak” hilarious songs in Hindi cinema, the curious eyes always hanker after a feast that remains forever flimsy.
“The ideas about sex in a male’s mind in India are preoccupied with concepts based on mardani or macho instincts to out power the women by strength but not to match the sexuality of the opposite-sex by acts of foreplay. Grabbing, seizing, forcing and binding her in slavish subservience is the ultimate that men look for”-says Anita Das, a noted psychologist.
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02/20/2014 07:21 AM
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