Just as the relations between women and men should be inter-dependent, their healthy co-existence depends on the economic and political framework of their society and nation-state. Many might ponder on the second part of the sentence: How can the economic or political policy be responsible for a happy family unit? But look around, the struggle for survival, the upmanship to dominate women has its roots in the struggle to control economic and political power.
Geetali V M, who is part of the Nari Samata Manch, gives us an overview of the male-female dynamics and why political activism is the need of the hour.
Feminism in 2018
“It’s a complex, post-modern world that we are living in. Some women support the period leave. Others worry that if period leave is granted, then women might eventually not be hired in a workplace. We are still looking at common ground. One aspect is clear though —men are talking; women are talking. I see this as a good sign,” begins Geetali.
The feminist, who also runs a study group for men called Purush Uvach, points out that this is also the time we are seeing increased incidences of sexual violence against women. “The feminist movement has resulted in conveying to women that ‘Rape isn’t their fault. Nor should they be victimised for it’. Men used ‘rape’ as a power tool to control women; to name and shame them, especially in politics. But once that ‘shame’ aspect has been removed, men aren’t sure how to exert their power and control over women. This has frustrated them and so they resort to violence. The only way to tackle it is by bringing about a change in the mindset of men,” she explains.
Acceptance by men is the key word here. “It will take several more years for men to realise that just as they have the ‘natural right’ to work, so do women. A female colleague who is climbing up the career ladder is just a ‘colleague’, who is better qualified than him. He need not feel challenged because she is a woman. If this acceptance comes to men, then we will have a more healthy society,” add she.
Economics and politics
The motto of the feminist movement is to shape good human beings. However, for that to happen, we need to break out of patriarchy which puts men and women in boxes. “Some women are ambitious; let them be. Some men are good homemakers. Let them be. Do not criticise them for their innate behavioural instincts. When their natural instincts are curbed, they feel repressed and react violently,” explains Geetali.
“When it comes to broader politics, you need to have economic power. If you don’t have that, you turn to thievery, robbing people. Those who want their say in politics, but don’t have it, will take to violence. That results in impunity, and a total disregard for law. Our wants have increased. A person living in slum might aspire to live in a skyscraper. The disparity between the haves and have-nots is so wide that the person who is left-out might feel indignant at the thought. That’s why we need more commoners in politics. Why do scams go undetected for so long? Why are our roads still in bad condition? What we see is political parties giving a political spin to these issues. So citizen groups need to be more active,” she adds.
At the moment, women comprise a bigger number in people’s movements — be it working for the cause of displaced or Bachat Gat (Self Help Groups) etc. “This,” says Geetali, “is the result of women’s movement which has gone deep and expanded laterally.”
The dynamics has changed and it’s there for all to see. “Just because you have a son, doesn’t mean that he will be flooded with proposals. Women are now sure of what they want from their husband and their families. Obviously, this hasn’t gone down well with parents of boys! In coming years, when the impact of female foeticide will be felt more sharply, we will see a shift again,” points out Geetali.
The editor of Milun Sarya Jani also shares her thoughts on the ‘super women syndrome’ vis a vis ‘tyagumurti stree’ of the past. “Today a girl is independent, holds a job, is educated, drives and so on. So she doesn’t need to depend on anyone. There is a germ of self-sufficiency in it and that is laudable. But interdependence is good. We have issues against being dependent on the male figure. In my opinion, interdependences enriches your life.” Food for thought!