Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, 'She doesn’t have what it takes.' They will say, 'Women don’t have what it takes.'
Gender apartheid exists. Yes, it does. So? So nothing. Let's go deal with it. Women are and women will. The challenge lies in the 'how's and 'when's.
In over 60 years of our democratic history, each ruling government has deliberately and insidiously ensured that women remain invisible and silent. How mahaan does that make our Bharat? Why have we not all hung our heads in shame? Why does nobody speak up? Is it because we actually believe a woman's worth is actually nothing? Do we see women as dispensable, of which kind many are available? The answer was 'yes' 60 years ago. Today, it remains just that. Not that it still affects us. We continue to pretend all is well.
Our President is a woman. Our chief of the ruling party is a woman. We have formidable women chief ministers. Women are increasingly joining their male counterparts as the nation's workforce. Isn't that enough cause for celebration? In this day and age, celebrating the achievement of less than 2% of the female population in India is ridiculous to the point of being laughable.
It is no longer astonishing how depressingly low we estimate the worth of our women, even as we reveres the Goddess in her various forms! So how does that happen? It happens because we are too busy deluding ourselves that all is hunky-dory. That beyond the beatings and burnings lies a good heart that 'loves' women and wants them to 'improve'.
Well, guess what? The beatings and burnings worked. The new and improved woman has arrived. But, alas, there still is no celebration, really. She isn't what we exactly wished for, now, is she? To 'man'kind's eternal horror, the new and improved versions came equipped with a mind - to think! Too bad. What do we do about this? Can we again control her? Should we create a remote for this mind? Why, of course. It ain't too tough to teach her a lesson. We've been doing that for ever since we care to remember!
So we go right ahead. We strip her clothes. We kick and punch her. We fondle her and feel her up. And when all that does not satiate us, we rape and plunder her. That, if nothing else, teaches her a lesson.
Yes. It teaches her the lesson that she must stand for herself, because no one else can. It teaches her the lesson that if they unite, along with real men (who respect women and therefore earn respect for themselves), their numbers will multiply. It teaches her the lesson that she must do things with freedom, no matter how hard it is. It teaches her the lesson that she must always stand on the side of truth and justice, no matter what it costs. It teaches her the lesson that she alone owns her honour; no one has a claim to it and it cannot be ever taken away from her. Most importantly, it teaches her the lesson that she does actually possess a mind to learn these lessons with.
With elections just round the corner, we do not hear a single political party address women's issues, not even their pet topic - women's reservation. It is as if women don't exist - not even as a vote bank. They may talk pretty about some obscure temples or mosques that no one really cares for. They may invoke the dependable ideology of Hindutva or minority-appeasement to fill their vote-hungry coffers. They may play the divisive card and arouse the dormant pride in their voters for their region (read party). But they fail to see that the society they so earnestly solicit votes from is one that marginalises half its population. Such a a society can see nothing but decline.
Domestic violence is our best kept dirty secret. Not a single politician has recognised this skeleton in their closet, or the devastating effects it has on their voters. As long as our women continue to be either battered or ignored, we cannot call ourselves a civilisation, let alone a developing one. Pratibha Patil may come and go, but her own kind only goes, never comes. So, all in all, a thoroughly depressing scenario for the erstwhile 'sone ki chidiya'. Oh come on, of course not.
SRK once said, "Hamari filmon ki tarah hamari zindagi mein bhi, end tak sab kuch theek-thaak ho jata hai. Aur agar aisa na ho, to ye samjho ki kahaani abhi khatam nahin hui. Picture abhi baaki hai." Yes, there are more reels to go. This year, this year, we subvert the usual gender agenda - a literal gender bender. The eternally enslaved and exploited woman will always find her crusader. But the new age truly and completely belongs to the dangerously liberated and obnoxiously loud-mouthed woman. You don't like her? Then its time you learnt to live with her.
The new and improved 'desi girl' has decided she isn't going to wait for help - she will help herself. She is not the martyr - she is the marauder out to reclaim her life. The knight in shining armour has finally been laid to rest, bless his soul. The change is here, and the change is her. Maa di laadli bigad gayi, so, enna rascala, mind it!
Happy Women's Day!