The concept of gender roles tend to associate certain behavior, attitudes and values of a society as appropriate for men and women. Feminists have long fought against this essentializing of both men and women, where the former is seen as closer to culture and rationality and the latter is considered closer to nature and emotionality. This dichotomy that has been created is often derived from and justified on the basis of biological explanations. Biological determinism has been refuted by the feminists and social structures have been cited as the reason for the deep rooted misogyny and prevalent inequality. Religion has been one of the many social institutions that has been perpetuating the patriarchal ideology and keeping it well and alive.
It is important to clarify and highlight the fact that Feminism has never tried to establish the idea that women are superior to men. Feminists have never seen masculinity as the goal. To take it as one’s aim is to adhere to the patriarchal idea that men are more adept in the activities of the world than women. Feminism argues for equality, by presenting them with equal opportunities. it includes under its banner all human beings, irrespective of their gender identification, who are oppressed and marginalized and are yearning for their voices to be heard. Further bringing the issue of Casteism, and the social conflict we are encountering these days. Growing up in a conservative Brahmin household, I have constantly battled with myself, my family members, and my community for the problematic views that the community I belong to holds. I realized that I am leading dual lives; one at home, according to the staunch Brahmin rules, and one outside, among the “liberal”circles. Brahmanism is the oldest and most well-oiled vehicle of patriarchy as
Brahmin men and women explain our problematic opinions through mythological characters and through religious texts which supposedly lay out roles – not just for different castes but for different genders as well.
Brahmanism places great emphasis on how a woman should conduct
herself in public and what she is expected to do at home and outside to
uphold the honor and dignity of the caste. The most important tool of this
patriarchal-Brahmanical society is that of “purity”, that a Brahmin woman is
expected to adhere to.
During childhood, a Brahmin girl’s parents and other family members
continually feed into our heads the rules of interaction with the male
gender. Eating or drinking water at a non-brahmin house is discouraged,
since non-Brahmins consume meat.
Another strict rule that girls in Brahmin households learn is that of
maintenance of purity while eating. Food can be cooked or consumed only
if one bathes and while eating plates cannot touch the vessels with food in
them. It is worse if one is a girl, as a girl is expected to fulfil her duty as a
devout Brahmin wife later in life.
A Brahmin girl is also expected to be religious, praying to the Hindu deities
every day, and following the orders of the priests at any religious occasion.
The concept of purity is applied here as well. No one can touch the mandir
(temple) without taking a bath. Older women are expected to cook food for
God wearing wet clothes or madi clothes. These madi clothes cannot be
worn as regular clothes.
All the above examples only point towards women? why not men. Thus
above traditions/rituals no matter how patriarchal it is, it’s still followed
and the one who questions it, is disowned from the community, that’s how
our indian society is treated. The women in the community frown upon the
women who “mix” everything in the house while they’re menstruating,
thereby “destroying the culture” slowly. This practise of isolation of the
women during her periods is regressive and it is utterly unfair as periods do
not interfere with a woman’s daily life nor do they make her impure. No
one should stop her from exercising her right to move freely, go to any
place of worship or touch anything in the house.
The internalised misogyny is so entrenched in the minds of adolescent
girls, and young unmarried women that we adhere to these rules that the
family sets. The central authority that administers these rules is obviously
the older women who keep these women under control. Girls are expected
to dress modestly, to wear bindis on their forehead, to not stay out late, to
not associate with boys romantically, to not be loud and outspoken.
Women who rebel against these norms are labelled by the women in
particular and the entire community in general for going against the
Brahmin rules as ‘loose and immoral’ because they chose to live life on
their own terms. Consequently, women are caged in these roles they are
expected to play, because a woman who acts independently is not the ideal
daughter or a suitable bride. This misogyny is perpetuated by slut-shaming
women who rebel against these norms, thus keeping women in check to
avoid being labelled similarly.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.
We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge