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 Courting has been replaced by dating: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.