Indian women have slowly, quietly made their presence felt in every field- corporate, art, politics, medicine, research, armed forces, social work, and sports, everywhere. A striking feature of this year’s quiz reality show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ (KBC) was the number of female contestants. Almost 90% of the contestants were women. The icing on the cake was the triumph of Rahat, a middle class housewife. Her victory and her confidence were like a volcano which erupted in front of everyone to see. The volcano was always there but no one bothered to know its potential being wrapped in age old conventional mentality, till it finally erupted in a way that made the country sit up and notice.
As I watched Rahat face one question after another with poise and a strong determination to win, I wondered –‘Hey, what’s she doing in the small middle class home all these years? She has the confidence to head an organization!’ But this is actually the fate of most women in our country who are bound by traditional roles so much that they dare not even question them. Rahat’s determination to break out of that mould is exemplary, because she is from an orthodox middle class family. Women from the educated well-to-do families are housewives by choice. But it is not so in the lower strata of society. They have to be iron willed to break through the layers of norms imposed on them by the society. Rahat’s victory and the number of woman participants in KBC popped the question in my mind –
“Has the average Indian woman finally arrived?!!!” Rahat broke all mental barriers to reach the platform of KBC and so has many talented girls form a male chauvinist state like Haryana have brought medals for the country in the sports field. Does this indicate that now there’s no stopping our women?
The Eternal Shakti
Neither Rahat nor these golden Haryanvi girls are modern women. They are just, plain simple average Indian women! Women, who were always present, since eternity! It was only our blind society which kept on worshipping Durga and Kali, but forgot the meaning of the small dot called ‘bindi’ on the Indian woman’s forehead. It is not just a cosmetic adornment, but a reminder of the natural inherent power within. The place of the bindi is the center of inherent human powers. It is ‘shakti’! Our society forgot that this shakti is always present in every human being, be it a man or a woman. It lies dormant in a woman because she has to nurture and therefore preserves her stronger powers for difficult times. Whenever the need arises ‘Shakti’ never fails to manifest itself in its true colors. This is also how Durga manifested Herself in Her ‘Shakti roop’, only when the need arose to save the world.
Change of role & identity
Women are working at men in every field and doing and wearing whatever they like! However progressive she may have become, is she really liberated yet?
Women had to fight to step out of the house and then had to prove themselves at every step they took. Yes, women did prove their mettle at multitasking. She did step out of the house, but did she really step out to freedom?…… No!
It is actually something like steeping out of the house without really leaving it. No woman can back from a hard day’s work and relax with a newspaper or TV. She has to head straight to the kitchen, attend to the children’s needs and make preparations for the next day. Women did seek the freedom to earn and carve out an identity for herself. They did attain this freedom but the traditional role did not change. She is still the primary homemaker expected do all the housework. Because she fought for the freedom to work, she quietly accepted the stress of doing household chores along with a regular profession (being glorified as ability to multitask).
Men too are changing and adjusting to the new identity of women, but this change is rather slow and often traumatic for the society. Incidents of heinous crimes against women are on an all time high. Rape, molestation, eve-teasing have become very day news. Why? Because mentality of men could not change at the rate women broke out of the mould seeking freedom. It is now identity crisis for the men. The uneducated men from the lower strata of the society are the most perplexed. They are challenged by the new woman’s confidence and sort of seek revenge for their inferiority, by resorting to such crimes. Is this what we bargained for in our fight for liberty?
It’s a sad reality!! Woman have to now live in fear for being successful. She has to earn for the family but has no time to relax, even on a Sunday. Whether she is draped in a saree or wears a skirt, she to face lewd remarks anyway. She is still the one to face in-laws wrath! The situation is slightly, though not always, better in the educated upper middle class families, but it’s a double blow for the women of the lower strata of society. The women of poor families not only have to work outside to compensate for their unemployed drunkard husband, but also tolerate everyday mental and physical abuse from them.
Did God really made man and woman different? If women can do all kinds of work, why can’t the men?! Will we ever achieve true equality? Why do men look down on women? When will women get the true respect they deserve? The fight for liberty seems to be never ending!!