Simple unwritten rules governing relations between the men and the women reveal subtly the cultural ethos and prevalent nature of a society. These rules typically relate to behavior of men or women under various social meetings and gatherings. For example, a married woman is expected to behave in a way different from the unmarried one. Some of these simple rules have a strongly differentiating nature between men and women. Some of these rules are naturally justified; for example, in a situation where physical attack is a possibility, it is men who are supposed to defend. However, there are also rules which could be distorted because of men (or women) playing a dominant part in the evolution of such a rule.
It is fair to judge these rules of society if they are naturally justified or not. One should perhaps find some simple way or a formula for deciding on justness of these rules. One such formula could be simply putting a question to check whether a given rule ensures an emotional equivalence between the two when a reflexion (exchange) of the two parties is imagined. This formula, which we shall refer to as the principle of reflexivity in men-women relations, could be a very logical and simple way of deciding on the justness of any rule or view.
Let us apply this formula of reflexivity in some cases and see if we could achieve a fair evaluation of the degree of justness of a prevailing rule or a view. Let us consider, rather arbitrarily, a rule regarding the marriage. If a man could marry N number of times, then this formula will suggest that woman could also go for N-marriages. This will give a high degree of justness for the rule of N-marriages.
Another example could be simply to settle this view of mine whether I should be loyal to my wife. The formula of reflexivity will suggest me to ask a question to myself ï¿½how will you feel if she decides for the ï¿½other wayï¿½ ï¿½ I know that my answer to this question is ï¿½I will be hurtï¿½. Then our formula will help to settle the view that I should not ever think of changing my way of loyalty.
Let us try to apply the above formula now to the question raised in the title of this note. The point, which I wish to elucidate here, refers to the system of attaching identifiers as to the personal status of women while excluding such markings for the men. Here, it appears that there is still a lot more to be desired in an otherwise very advanced and mature Hindu social structuring of the men-women relationship.
All through the stages of evolution in a womanï¿½s life, we expect or enforce a certain ï¿½taggerï¿½ which reveals to any observer the personal status of a woman; viz., pre- marriage indicators; post-marriage indicators for the widowhood or non-widowhood status etc. A simple application of the formula of reflexivity will tell me that these are not just rules at all.
Using the reflexivity formula to achieve a higher degree of justness about this system of marking of the status, men should be marked for the personal status with the same visual clarity as the women get marked.
We could also bring in here the idea of emotional equivalence under the interchange between man and woman in relation to the question of markers. First of all, good number of these indicators carry statements of the happiness and bliss in the life of the woman and it is likely that they are as per her choice and men could also take initiative to display their state of happiness and bliss as the woman are supposed to do. But let us look at some other aspect of this display or marking.
Consider very painful and clearly ï¿½inhumanï¿½ aspects of the forced marking of the state of personal pain and agony. Woman, during a change over to widowhood, is supposed to undergo a complete transformation with very strong visual markings of the pain and agony of her widowhood. Apply the formula we talked about and you will notice that our society has this rule/convention with a very poor degree of justness.
The need is to put in a law within the Hindu social structure which forbids any such requirements which exhibits the personal agony and is also only for the women. Under such changes of personal status leading to pain and agony, we must encourage woman to remain untransformed requiring no visual tagging of her status. She could follow the routine way of dressing and living as per the way of her liking and give her this right as her personal right. The society should grow to extend respect due on a normal course to such woman undergoing a personal state of pain or agony, who decides not to disclose through such ï¿½taggersï¿½ forced upon her. If we do not wish to do so, then apply the rule to men, based on reflexivity formula and force men, if their wives die, to keep their head shaved and wear simple white dress, enjoy no festivity, eat no meat or attend absolutely no religious or joyful events of the families/society.