Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Challenge to the Women of Today

photo taken from: www.tamilhindu.com

Women were an oppressed class. They were the silent sufferers of history, claimed as property, relegated to home, restricted to have jobs and made into a “breeding dog”, an elaborate system of oppression in the past needs yet to be recognized as such. For this oppression was total and has been affecting every facet of women’s lives.

Men have controlled all political, economic and cultural institutions, using their power to keep women in an inferior position whose only purpose is to enhance men’s lives. Indeed, all power throughout history has been male-oriented and male dominated especially in the family.

The power of fathers within families existed before the formation of Western civilization and was built into mental constructs, primarily through the influence of the church. Biblical interpretations based on theological arguments from a male superior group used core texts of the Bible; namely Genesis, the Fall and St. Paul; to define the “proper” roles of women. Similarly, according to traditional Hindu custom, a virtuous woman is considered to be one who worships her husband and derives great power from her virtue to protect her husband and herself.

For two thousand years, these teachings which dominated church doctrines, dictated women’s submissiveness and public silence, and were used to justify subordination. By the Middle Ages, two main assumptions were regarded as basic truths: women were created inferior and for a lesser purpose and by their nature and weaknesses, had greater propensity towards sin and sexual temptations. These dominated all forms of ideas and controlled sexual, social and economic relationships, constantly reinforcing gender stereotypes. This is seen by many as the beginning of gender divisions of labor and occupational segregation, with women positioned in the society as the producers of children and the roles of housewife.

Not only that, even in sports women are considered as inferior to men, as observed during the past 100 years, little girls from birth are most praised not for their actions but for their appearance. They are made to think that their bodies are solely objects to attract men. The so-called fact of a woman’s physical weakness has simply been accepted as common sense. Other scholars have even dismissed the possibility of women being able to cope up with hard physical labor. Thus it is very unimaginable at those times for a woman running around a stadium aiming to win the 100 meter dash and bag in the gold medal.

Worst of all, though things have changed drastically during the last century, portrayals of women in the media have only achieved what we can perhaps call as modernity of appearance and presentation, and not of thought and content. Editorial content and advertisements in all major newspapers as well as magazines, with exclusive female readers, reflect negative images of women, a being who is submissive, frivolous, manipulative, and as decorative objects. In fact, many so-called women’s magazines promote submissive and docile role models, while discouraging female characters with independent thoughts as disrespectful and ill mannered. Women are more often shown in “home-bound” activities such as cooking, cleaning, knitting and gardening. The way women are presented in the media can easily be codified in categories such as: a woman dependent on man; an over-achieving housewife; a high-living femme fatale; as physically beautiful and sexy.

Such roles persuade women that their role on the society, regardless of education or aspirations, is only that of a housewife and making themselves loom beautiful. Continued harmful images of women are shown to children from the early stages of infancy, they learn to accept stereotypes – women have limited intellect; they are good for only house bound activities; they are non-serious and therefore cannot be trusted with independent decision making as the norm. Indeed, the images of women have not changed much during the past five decades. The media continues to be male dominated, manipulated by commercial interests and does much damage through its portrayal of women as sex objects and as a group that plays secondary roles to men.

But as they say, no one is oppressed until one lets herself to be. Therefore, women should not live up to the image of being weak for by doing this, they are making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. All moral actions that women do, involve an element of courage, yet when women are viewed as weak by themselves and others, they expect less of themselves and less is expected of them. Their actions reflect this, as with their accomplishments. To gain some freedom, women must overcome their fear of men and the sense of their own powerlessness. 

photo taken from: stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com

Thus, I’m ending this article with these final words to the women of today:

  1. Gender inequality only exists when you let it. I have long ago accepted that as a person, regardless of me being a woman has her own limitations but never let other people dictate what your limitations are.  
  2. Remember, a woman who measures herself against the achievements of a man lacks ambition. 
  3. Embrace your sexuality. Never be ashamed of it.
“There is only one basic human right, the right as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.”  - - - O'Rourke
photo taken from: www.acelebrationofwomen.org



  2. awkward. you see them wearing a veil and the first thought that clicks in your mind is- she's oppressed. Instead of digging through insignificant facts and statistics, why not go around and ask a muslim woman herself? It's her choice. Similarly, the way France and other countries have put irrelevant bans on this assuming they're speaking on behalf of these women, yeah right, they feel oppressed for not having the choice to live their lives adorning whatever they wish. I'm a Muslim woman, I live in a "Patriarchal" society, I adorn the veil and hijab... and I love every freaking moment of it. It's not just perspectives. It's my choice to reveal my beauty to whoever I want rather than everyone and to me, that IS liberty. Thank you.