Is celebrating enough?
The sudden spurt of celebrations performed as a token gesture for women do not make a great impact on the real situations that women face everyday of their lives Aruna Ravikumar A casual mention by a friend about the word eve teasing being in use only in India and Bangladesh set me thinking. Shocking but true this is a euphemism used only in India and sometimes Bangladesh for public harassment or molestation of women by men with the use of "Eve" being a reference to the biblical Eve. This word it is felt implies that the woman is in some way responsible for the behavior of the perpetrators of the act as seen from the temptress nature of eve from its semantic roots. Why this sudden focus on the word you may wonder? We Indians are celebrating various days set aside for mothers, fathers, grandfathers, women and what not, with gusto along with the innumerable festivals that we already have. I think it is apt to set our minds thinking on the eve (as in occasion) of women's day and stop using this word which subtly places responsibility on the woman as a "tease". The "she asked for it" attitude reinforced at every step starting from school education to various heroic deeds at establishing male victory in our movies which unfortunately are the main source of inspiration for our youth need to be dealt with in a firm manner. Overcoming bias has been the main challenge for women across both urban and rural backgrounds and despite figures and statements empowerment remains a mirage for most women. It is clearly, women from the rich, elite and politically well connected families who are totally or partially empowered. While celebrating various days for women as a token gesture it has to be remembered that the sudden spurt of celebrations performed as a token gesture do not make a great impact on the real situations that women face every day of their lives. The real control behind many women Sarpanches and key portfolios that are allocated in the name of "reserved for women" categories are really their husbands or members of the male clan. No wonder the women who made it into politics on their own struggle and clearly play a significant role are all single brooking no interference whatsoever from partners. Coming back to the issue of attitudes towards women at the work place I still recall with horror the often ungracious remarks of a colleague who had an inflated ego when it came to news coverage as he felt all the hard core news belonged to the male domain. Whenever the women covering political news, came up with a difficult political interview he would attribute it to the fact that men could not say no to a woman's feminine charm which made things easy for us. On occasions where we lost out he would come up with a nasty remark "You should be covering paintings, rangoli competitions and cookery shows". A gentle reminder that all those representatives of masculinity, had ultimately to stand before the high command (feminine power) with folded hands he would be barely acknowledged with unconcealed disdain. The poor man's bias was obvious when he packed me off to a distant place and he was at a point which was the helm of activity in the capital during our very first live election result coverage in a channel. In the last minute there was some technical problem and it was the district live that came first! Anyway, he is not alone as there are so many like him in every profession. Unless the projection of women as inferior beings drawing admiration only for their physical charms is removed through proper education and communication and a healthy respect inculcated for them as equals, the harassment, torture, crime and subjugation of women will continue unabated. If you are celebrating a day for women let it be one where unhealthy attitudes are dropped and a new outlook is cultivated. That is the eve to watch out for!
26 Jan 2020 6:22 AM GMT