And our yearly #FeministFeb campaign begins!
We begin this campaign with a conversation with Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Head of CSR, regarding her views on feminism.
“Most of our societies are structured around patriarchy, which means that they do not treat men and women equally. Societies don’t look at gender equality as the basic principle. Some believe that women are born equal and are socialized into inequality. This means that men are given better opportunities, better access and better options. All this gets reinforced thru cultural practices and traditions.
For example, we have so many songs, dramas and literature on celebration of the boy child. This is because the value added to life of a man is much more and thus, the man gets higher status in society. A woman has lower status, and is trained and socialized to live a life of subordination. In some sense, is viewed as a person as long as she is fulfilling all responsibilities assigned to her. That is, to procreate, raise children and serve the family. She is never given the possibility of being an independent human being, with her own choice and doesn’t get an opportunity as equal to men.
Feminism addresses question of inequality of sexes. It is an understanding of social order and social systems, which explains how equality of sexes is not considered. Patriarchy creates inequality.
This idea started coming up in the beginning of the 20th century, especially after the second World War. Women started understanding the wrongs being meted out to them, whether as a child, young adult or old woman. From womb to tomb, women faced discrimination, subordination and inequality. This started getting addressed. This has been a century of assertions by the underprivileged, whether it is the Dalits, people of colour, migrants- everyone who was seen as the ‘other’, and not treated well by the majority, have risen and asserted themselves. Women have also risen to this cause and challenge, and have asserted that they should be treated equal and given dignity as a human being, and not just as a wife, mother, daughter- basically not as a subservient human being.
When I talk of equality of sexes, I don’t refer to men and women being equal in every way. We are, at the end of the day, talking about two different biologies. Feminist thinking moved from thinking just about different biologies as being the problem. Some of us who tried to understand discrimination, we understood that the problem lies in the systems and structures, created by culture.
Let me give an example. If u are rolled into a machine, and put in different moulds, you will come out a certain way every time. In this respect, the society is the machine and boys are trained to be boys, and girls are trained to be girls. This training then creates a social mindset and a behavioural pattern. In 21st century, this is not going to be acceptable. We are not seeking biological equality, but seeking equality in society. We are talking about a new value system based on gender equality, which smashes patriarchy. Gender restructuring needs to occur. We need to understand that men can be strong feminists and women can be as bad a patriarch as men. It depends on where you lie in the social order and what has been your socializing process, what access, control, power and authority you exercise.
There is lot of hope of women and men working together to make gender equality the core of any society.”
What wonderful thoughts to begin this month of #FeministFeb!
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