Saturday, October 07, 2006

Do we love our Women?

Friends, this may be my last serious post before I leave for India in a fortnight. I have a lot of pending work to finish and I also wish to spend as much time as possible with Aarya, my little grand daughter, whom I am going to really and truly miss. I already miss not having spent enough time with my other grand daughter Megha. Hopefully there will be another visit when I’ll get to spend an equal amount of time with both of them. I dedicate this post to their bright future.

I begin by acknowledging that I’ve been influenced a great deal by what I understood from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has said in his book ‘ Hating Women’. He discusses in detail the degradation of women in the name of feminism with reference to the status of women in America. It is a book I’d recommend for every thinking adult of the world and Indian parents with teen aged children would do well to read it for two reasons. Firstly, what is happening in America today is bound to happen in India tomorrow. Secondly, with the world growing smaller they are not going to escape being exposed to it even before it reaches India. Rabbi Boteach speaks as a father with genuine concern for his daughters who will soon occupy their rightful place in the American society. I have two grand daughters who are likely to grow in America and my concern extends to them too. I cannot reproduce the whole book but these are some points that caught my attention.

1. Fall of the feminist Dream:
The feminist movement aimed at raising the status of women by encouraging them to take up careers, involve themselves in decision making at the political, official and domestic levels. To day reality shows portray women as shallow brainless creatures who’d fall to any level just for money and celebrity status. No woman seems to object. On the other hand the popularity of the shows seem to indicate that women seem to consider this as harmless fun. Translate this into the Indian scenario. Our TV serials show women as schemers and plotters, an illegitimate son or daughter pops up out of the blue and every hero has an extra marital affair. And we watch these serials instead of boycotting them.

2. Courting has been replaced by dating:
Earlier men would court women. These days, dating, often initiated by women, is the rule. Courting required the men to prove themselves worthy of the ladies' attention let alone affection. They had to work towards being approved by her parents. Dating on the other hand seems to need no such criteria and girls barely thirteen and fifteen years of age go out on dates with equally young boys. All that parents seem to do is to mumble a word of caution-“ Don’t be too late”. According to Rabbi Boteach girls should not be allowed to date before the age of nineteen or twenty which is approximately the age that they could be expected to have attained physical and mental maturity. The culture they’re exposed to at home should be one in which enables them to carry themselves with a dignity so that their date would not dare to make undue demands of them. I don’t need to add that this applies to all countries and cultures.

3. Women are Nature’s system of checks and balances:
Women have a sobering effect on man. Women are catalysts that unearth masculine virtue. Even the most aggressive of men tones down when he faces a dignified woman. Unfortunately, society is becoming more and more desensitized towards feminine attributes like modesty, sanctity and the mystique of femininity. We have our pop culture to thank for this situation. Due to this harshness will triumph over subtlety and ruthlessness over ethics. Society should never lose its reverence for women and if it does one is not too far from doom. One needs to look at the degradation of women in the west, by portraying them as mindless and vulgar in the visual medium and the oppression of woman in certain Islamic states of the east, to get an idea of what he means. I quote from the book -

“Rabbi IsaacLuria, the greatest Kabbalist of our times predicted that the world would be redeemed by women, and women would teach men how to bring forth their more nurturing, harmonious energy. Women would help men create a messianic era based on peace and prosperity by teaching men to see all beings as brothers instead of competitors, teaching them how to love rather than conquer.” In these days of terrorist attacks and suicide bombers is this not the requirement of the day?

There is a lot more in the book but unfortunately I cannot touch every thing that is mentioned. But here are a few things we can do-

1. Let us teach our boys the necessity to treat house hold chores as dignified work and encourage them to help out in whatever way they can. While a mother asks a girl child to clear the table or fold her clothes they seldom make the boy to do it. He grows up thinking that he can watch TV after a hard day’s work while his wife is supposed to do the cooking and cleaning. A little effort in this direction can save a lot of frustration.

2. Let our children understand that they would be hurting us very badly if they misuse the trust we place on them. In response to my earlier post Monika Manchanda had mentioned that she did not agree to my point on physical strength of females and that the strength displayed by a woman at child - birth was an example. I think that nothing in the world can equal a woman’s role as the bearer of her child. Nature has made her much superior to man in equipping her thus. She senses the child within her from day 1 but her husband waits for nine months to do so. But to be worthy of the supremacy accorded to her by nature isn’t it equally important that a woman exercises a sense of responsibility and caution? This is what I meant in the post.

3. Equal opportunities in the job front is a popular demand. I agree 100%. But one should be thankful to the Indian Government that it shows consideration to its women employees while considering transfers. I know of a government doctor in Jamshedpur who traveled for nearly 4 hours each day to reach his workplace. He’d take 3 different modes of transport, reaching the bus stand by car, travel for two hours by bus, walk 1 kilometer before taking a boat to cross a river and finally be taken to the government dispensary by his compounder on a motorcycle. He’d spend the night there and return the next evening commuting in reverse order. His female colleagues who draw the same salary are never posted to such remote areas and I’ve never heard him complain. I am also an employee of a government college and I am indeed grateful for the consideration shown by our policy makers. I don’t know whether I am eligible to be called a feminist but I definitely call our government’s approach as humanistic. Can we deny that equal rights means equal responsibility as well?

I have tried to address some questions raised by readers of my earlier post. I still believe that we should all strive to make the world a better place to live in and women should feel free to walk on the street at mid night. As of now I dare not let my daughters do it. I have given my children education and good values and that was something that i could do. I cannot protect them from all that is evil. I can only hope. I end with the concluding words of Rabbi Boteach –

Together, men and women working can usher in a golden age of feminine awe and magic. Together, we can create a softer, gentler and brighter world illuminated with the light and warmth of the nurturer.”

This, I feel, will be the true achievement of feminism if it ever happens.

42 comments:

Akeli said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Akeli said...

Hello grandma!Just want to let you know that I've always found your posts thoughtful and interesting.I'll be frequenting this blog for some words of wisdom from a dear grandma for sure!

The Visitor said...

G'ma - a thought provoking post. There are a lot of messages there.
Though I can feel the underlying sentiments (of your post), I think that you have curbed yourself from expressing yourself more freely than you'd have wanted to. In other words, I feel that there are more unstated things than stated. :) Of course I could be totally wrong.

mommyof2 said...

Ohh I have got to read this book. This was a wonderful post & a lot of things you mentioned in ur post are always in the back of my mind. My daughter is handful and I always tell my hubby that she is just 20m & don’t listen to us,, what will happen in few years? If it stays like that Im going to send her to India:-) Or stay there with her for few years. Then I think that India is getting worse these days.. Here in US at least they
go out openly but in India kids are doing more thing behind their parents back just because they know it’s a no-no. Here at least our kids can say “hey our parents are living here for a long time & they are a bit flexible.”.(Im not just saying this, I have cousins in India & I saw lots of things during my last visit.) Till my last visit I used to consider India as my safe alley but not anymore.

And about son doing house chores, I make my son do little things, which he loves to do, but hubby doesn’t approve that. Like I give him 2-3 things to mix in a salad bowl & he thinks he is cooking & get very excites but hubby thinks I am making him all girly. I am still going to teach him but there will always be arguments between hubby & me.

And we should boycott these Indian dramas even though all are almost same & interesting:-) We women see all these serials and if our thinking & taste is change they have to make better serials:-) I used to have cable 2 years back & hubby always used to say “ They are all same.. Just watch one & you know all the dramas. Don’t you get headache watching these silly things. And if you stop watching theses your tea consumption will reduce 90% LOL”

And in one of my comment on some another blog I did say that in 10 years India will be America but with more bad influences.

oh and have a safe trip back home:-)

Hip Grandma said...

akeli:welcome here.Isn't it wiser to consider all aspects before judging a situation?

the visitor:I had to keep the post short or else i could have gone on and on.moreover I feel it is better to start a thought process than impose my views on others.

mommyof2:the book tends to be a little repetitive but is nevertheless interesting.Regarding teaching boys to respect house work and contribute to it I request that all mothers think on this line.Girls will benefit by a society in which they are appreciated and when the girls benefit the whole family will benefit.

Sumanth said...

Trop Tard. Trop Tard.

Too Late for India.
Feminist extremism has created Masculist NGOs in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nasik, Surat and Hyderabad, New York, Fremont, London and woman are joining in them.

Helplines for abused Men and their mothers and sisters in India and abroad.

The Gender War has begun.

Its time, unscrupulous women in India spend time behind bars.

Sumanth said...

When will mothers stop using their kid sons as unpaid bodyguards?

When will mothers stop suppressing emotions of their young sons?

When will mothers stop training their sons towards "protecting and providing" for the family?

On one hand mother expect kids to respect household work and at the same time they will not free boys from the responsibility of a bodyguards and provider for the family.

When will boys be freed from being competitive and risk taking?

Feminist mothers have a greater chance of hating and abusing their sons. These boys when grow up, will hate women.

Hip Grandma said...

sumanth:I am sorry that you have completely misunderstood the idea conveyed in my post.I am always for a complimentary role played by men and women in a family to bring about harmony.I have never suggested that one group should put down the other.Mutual respect by both groups is the need of our times.It is indeed unfortunate that you failed to see my post in the correct light.I do hope you get over it.

sumanth said...

I understand the moderate line that you are taking.

But it is too late (for India).

Mutual respect is not possible when feminists and media continue to be misandrist and keep churning out half truths.

Its the feminist extremists who are calling the shots.

In the days of Gender equality, mysogyny must equal misandry.

Today, educated and talented Men have organised themselves all over India to fight against feminism.

Have you ever seen a family court? Do you know family courts and criminal courts are often located in same buildings? Do you know that men are denied even child visitation (lets forget child custody)?

22,000 men are killed or driven to suicide by their wives in India. None of these criminal women are even arrested. Where as every suicide(even accident) of woman is converted into a dowry death case and the whole man's family is kept is jail for months.

Usha said...

I agree that as parents we can go a long way in instilling more confidence in the girls and more sensitivity in boys and a sense of fair play in both. Once they grow up with the right values, equality is not difficult to achieve.

Hip Grandma said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hip Grandma said...

Sumanth:I understand the agony expressed in your response and this is what we should strive to rectify in the situation to bring about a positive change in society.It is however never too late to initiate a positive change.Do think on these lines.I see that you have begun to appreciate my point.Thank you.

Usha:It is not possible to adequetly express my opinion in the matter in a blogpost but one cannot undermine the role played by parents in grooming their children for the role they play in society.

indianangel said...

Nice post Preetha. I however tend to disagree with just one point

//In response to my earlier post Monika Manchanda had mentioned that she did not agree to my point on physical strength of females and that the strength displayed by a woman at child - birth was an example. I think that nothing in the world can equal a woman’s role as the bearer of her child.

Point taken, yes agreed women go through a lot of pain during the birth of a child, but thats does not mean they need to have supernatural strength do. Evolution, procreation and birth is a natural process and it happends all life form including animals. Today's women have very less physical activity than compared to the ones of the yesteryear and this lack of physical activity is what makes the child bearing even more complicated. My grandma bore 8 children and on all occasions it was a natural delivery. But how many ladies today go through a caesarian - if you sit lazy against the flexes of nature you are inviting trouble and pain!
And think about the yester years when in villages women bore children even without the help of others - yet are hale and healthy! I guess there is a little extra unwanted hype surrounding today with respect to child bearing, which makes people more scared about this child bearing process.


One another thing which I wanted to add was, women should have their freedom to make thier choices too. That should include in choosing their partner too - for how long are we going to keep them as showcase dolls back at home. It is a fast generation today and we need to mould ourselves to the change/growth that surrounds us!

Hip Grandma said...

indianangel:What was at the back of my mind but failed to mention was that the bearing of a child in her womb was more an example of mental strength than physical.Or else how do you explain the strength exhibited by undernourished women taking the risk of pregnancy.Yes if women laze around they are going to suffer.Regarding the freedom to choose one's partner I feel one should wait until a degree of mental maturity is attained before doing it.I've mentioned that in the post.

Hip Grandma said...

indian angel:Thanks for pointing out.

Sumanth said...

Hello hiphopgmom,

There are very few bloggers who are writing on women issues in a balanced, powerful and moderate way.

May be you can consider to be part of Desicritics and post your articles there as well. That will help your articles to reach out to a bigger audience.

Here is the procedure:
to post at desicritics.

Shini said...

According to me our education system needs to reflect on this matter. Today, kids going to school learn a lot within the school environ and the outside, than being home bound.

Another source of influence are the Television serials that are aired on popular channels. They seem to have higher impact than even the big screen. When women on TV are seen 'unimaginably' sacrificing in nature or 'unimaginably' evil in nature, this has an effect on their(children's) minds.

Also, there needs to be balanced viewpoint to this issue. As everything in this world undergoes misuse, this issue of feminism and fighting for equality and rights, should never be misused in biased, circumstantial cases.

Hip Grandma, wish u a safe landing back home :)

The Kid said...

Regarding the "equal opportunity" extolled in #3, how exactly is mentioning the Doc who travels long and far in comparison to other women who get paid the same, an example of equal opportunity?

Honestly, I am confused.

Hip Grandma said...

the kid:I meant to say that while asking for equality are women prepared to take equal risk and responsibility.is it not better that they are given preferential treatment till the situation improves?

Hip Grandma said...

sumanth:yeah i'll look it up.Thanks.

shiny:I am glad you've understood what I meant.And thanks for your good wishes for a safe journey.We seem to need it all the more in times such as ours.

The Kid said...

"Is it not better that they are given preferential treatment till the situation improves?"

No. A general inferiority complex of the female gender does not warrant an extention of personal courtesy to women in social life to my profession. Professionally, I will be ruthless, to any opponent.

Your suggestion undermines the hardwork some women have undergone to get to a respectable position including yourself, Dr. HipHopGmom.

Hip Grandma said...

the kid:I am glad to see that you are willing to acknowledge the hard work put in by womenfolk and have no hesitation in admitting that I had indeed missed the point.thank you.Hats off to all those women who left no stone unturned to become achievers.thanks for your compliment too.

Srijith Unni said...

This is one very important post, Hip Grandma..You have raised a lot of valid points and in a way pointed out how children are to be brought up, how one can be a good husband and how a woman needs to be treated.. I shall make it a point to help out at home, next time I go home.. Thanks a lot for this post..! I had grown up as the boy sitting and watching T.V. Let me see if I can make a change..

Welcome back to India, and my regards to your children and grand children!

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to pick up that book & read. And my knowledge on feminism is 'most non-existent. However, there are a few points I'd like to remark on:

Fall of the Feminist dream:
Indra Nooyi is the CEO of Pepsi. No doubt, you've heard of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw as well. We've had a woman prime minister & women chief ministers abound. While I'd accept that the percentage of 'successful' women may not be very high, I'd also say lack of equal opportunities for women in India is just one aspect of the whole problem. I think that if we looked at a certain socio-economic bracket, you'll see a great improvement in that percentage.

Courting/dating: I understand that the point you're making, but I think that that's really one manifestation of the fast-food age we live in. I think that the issure is larger than feminism.

Checks/Balances: I, whole heartedly, agree that that's a great role women play. But if you're telling me that women will no longer give us the disapproving look, well, I guess I'll say Amen! :) :)

I find your blog very involving, but in the past I have not commented because I knew/thought next to nothing about most of your topics. I guess the same held true for this one as well, but what the heck, I guess you can just delete the comment, if it is totally meaningless.

S!

vibhor said...

hello grandma,
equality is somewhat that i think can never be acheived.. as you talk abt the male doctor being posted to remote area not a female doctor...it happens everywhere...take an example of bus.. we have a special seat for women only then we have seperate counters for women..its not that they are considered weaker but becuase of respect towards them..
there is some diffeence that is created by nature and it has to be accepted and respected...

i regret if my words hurts you..
but its just the way i think..

Inder said...

gender inequality has always been around and it still is. women were dominated, came the feminists, fought their battle, seems like men would be dominated, come the masculinists, they will fight their battle... i think it will go on a cycle.

i think the problem would be solved when we start regarding others, men or women, as fellow humans.

my mom let me wash my plates and cloths. i made my coffees, teas, sandwiches and omelettes. i somehow missed learning proper cooking. now i repent it. now i try to cook on trial-and-error.

artnavy said...

I am sure Megha, Aarya and Anush will usher in a more equal trow thanks to gmoms like you

Mahadevan said...

With education, financial independence and their own assertiveness, the status of women in general has increased considerably.

However, to the advertising world, film industry and to some of the glossy magazines, women continue to be objects of sex. Why should a model shed her clothes for a cellular company to sell its products or to look invitingly to promote perfume?

Hip Grandma said...

srijith:you are one of those who understood my post in the correct light.Good luck to you.From what I understand about you it won't be difficult.Parenting is a delightful responsibility.Let's shoulder it with pleasure.

anon:I am in no way undermining women achievers.I only wish others would follow their example.Regarding dating as fast food,I still believe that short cuts to the stamoch lead to ulcers and indigestion.Nature has not made our stomachs equipped to deal with junk food.Just as fast food culture needs to be enjoyed with responsibility,the dating culture also has to be apprached with caution.Women can only be a check on man only if she is worthy of respect.luckily the scenario is not that bad.you are welcome to comment here.I like responding.

vibhor:you are not hurting me art all.In fact I am also saying soomething similar.In fact I meant that till equality in all respect is achieved,if ever,women have to exercise caution.This is not however to undermine the effort of women achievers as the kid rightly pointed out.

Inder:let me give you a hand shake.Equality 100% is difficult.Mutual respect is the key word.You have already taken the first step forward.

Artnavy:All the best to Anush,aarya,megha and all the other little girls who have just arrived.

mahadevan:you are right sir,while on the one hand women strive to attain a place in society and on the other hand these models and TV characters undo what the achievers have done and send a wrong message to society.

Anali said...

Very thought provoking post and quite timely. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been so much violence with all the school shootings here in the US. And it was violence specifically targeted at girls. My heart was breaking.

These particular men had such venomous anger toward these girls. It clearly is a sentiment that is running rampant in this country that really needs to be addressed.

starry nights said...

Preeta..a really nice thought provoking post. I have to agree with everything the rabbi has written about.being a mother of teenage kids growing up in America I do have the same concerns.I have always made my son do chores in the house, from laundry to dishes and he will also mop the kitchen. I have taught him to respect women and treat them with dignity. I think a lot lies in the way we bring up our children.if taught well they will be able to survive in this society.

Hip Grandma said...

anali:You are absolutely right.Teenagers committing crimes is now becoming universal and India is no exception.Suicides of school children and adolescents are also on the rise.It is time parents woke up and did something about it.Boys and girls need to find solace at home to check their frustration.

Lalitha:It is heartening to see that you are training your son to help you with house work and to treat ladies with dignity.Do read the book.Though he tends to repeat and it appears as if he has said it before it is worth a read.Keep your children as close as possible to yourself.They should first come to you in case of a problem.

Hiren said...

Well said in the end. Women definitely need to take up careers and self actualize-Make your passion your profession. What you have said about a boy's upbrininning is also very true. The 21st century belongs to mother leadership.

itchingtowrite said...

Together, we can create a softer, gentler and brighter world illuminated with the light and warmth of the nurturer
very profound- and together is the word

Hip Grandma said...

hiren:I feel encourage when people like you comment.thanks.

ITW:There is something about Rabbi Boteach that is blunt and honest and yet so readable.This is the third book by him that I read and I liked them all.

Has to be me said...

Hi there....lovely post 4 the women. I totally agree with u on sharing the work load with the male child as well. Thats y Im training my son young on the same issue! Hope I suceed in the same.

And as regards the art of livin that u were interested in....guess what u do have it in Jamshedpur as well & here r the contacts & u may pursue if u r truly interested:-

Vyakti Vikas Kendra - Jamshedpur

Contact(s): Nand Tilwani/ Priya Mitran
Address: K3-41, Telco Colony

Jamshedpur, Jharkhand 831004

Phone: 2286820,2306262,2285342,2239187

Email: ntilwani@tatamotors.com, priyamitran@yahoo.co.in, ashtavakra@hotmail.com

Other Information: Website : www.artoflivingjamshedpur.org

Good luck & enjoy the few days with ur grand daughter....sure shes gonna miss u a lot too! :) How old is she?

And hope u continue blogging after u reach India as well. :)

Hip Grandma said...

has to be me:thanks a lot for understanding my point.thanks for the information on the 'art of living' chapter in jamshedpur.i'll check it.the name priya mitran rings a bell in my mind.someone i've heard of.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kalpana said...

A good post again...

Hip Grandma said...

kalpana:thanks

Abha said...

Hey there Hip Grandma. This is the first time I have visited your blog. A very interesting blog ( I think I will visit again ) and a very thought provoking post.
Will read that book if I get a chance to lay my hand on it.

Hip Grandma said...

abha:welcome here.Thanks for your kind words.