Gender stereotyping, and the seemingly innocuous gender-biased slurs are still rampant in our society. To console a crying lad, very easily we go on and tell him, “Don’t be a little girl now!” not realising the gravity of the gender bias we are promoting. Even while appreciating a girl who excels in sports, the commonest compliment she gets is that “she’s as good as the guys.” We never give a second thought because this stereotyping has been ingrained in our minds so deeply that we don’t feel it’s odd, or harmful.
It’s a well-known fact that there’s a difference between sex and gender. Sex is just the biological difference between men and women; gender is the acceptable roles that are propagated and imposed upon the people that lucidly categorise people into one gender. Hence, supposedly, pink is a girly colour while for blues, it’s blue.
Such predisposed statements also find their ways in works of literature. The famous poem in Hindi valorizing the Queen of Jhansi as she fought against the overwhelming imperialist force of the Britishers in pre-independent India: “खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी” which means “she fought as gallantly like a man”, thus extolling her not for her efforts, but for displaying a supposed manly quality. What is it if not the subtle workings of patriarchy?
We’ve come a long way in ensuring equality among the sexes, but there is still a long way to go. Even as most people in cities are educated and liberated in their outlook, the patriarchy is still working voraciously albeit at a subtle level.
When I look around, most young children uninhibitedly use abuses that are conspicuously based on female anatomy. It’s mortifying to notice the use of cuss words by youngsters who don’t even take these utterances seriously at the moment, but it doesn’t take long for it to turn into a dangerous disrespect for women in their minds. They grow up with the opinion of phallus-superiority and the consequent intellectual and physical relegation of women. If these are the future of the country, there’s a great reason to be concerned.
Celebrity bashing has become common on the internet for various reasons, and one thing I’ve especially noticed is debasing a celebrity artist by referring to the concerned person as a “woman” or “gay”. What I fail to grasp is how being a woman or a homosexual undesirable?
Gender stereotyping isn’t only restricted to women. So, if you are a guy, you cannot show your emotional side ever, no matter if you are dying from the inside. Asking for directions even in the grave possibility of getting lost is a strict no-no because somehow it questions your manliness. Neither can you indulge in your love for cooking without being slighted, unless of course you are doing it an economic activity, nor can you properly enjoy being around children because you aren’t fit for the job.
It is high time that we come out of our regressive bubble that has shackled our brains for long, because the world has endured enough injustice, and the need of the hour is true freedom, freedom from gender inequality and liberty.
This is why we need feminism, to ensure that nobody is discriminated or judged on the basis of their sex, so that a guy wishes to offer to me the seat on the bus if he sees me tired, not just because I’m a woman. Feminism is needed so that I don’t get scorned if I keep my maiden name after marriage. Feminism is needed because a male friend of mine shouldn’t feel embarrassed if he breaks down in front in emotional distress.
Feminism is an art that needs to be adapted for a fairer society, so that we aren’t controlled by archaic and bygone schemes, whether they are overwhelming or subtle in their workings. Disparity among gender leads to abominable ramifications. This art of feminism will help counter the ill-effects, is thus a need of the hour in India. Let’s all be proud of encouraging a gender-neutral society by way of this art, and give equal opportunity, space and voice to every individual.
Long live equality,
Long live thy art.