Can a Man and a Woman be Equal?
By Indrani Medhi
Look before you leap. Think before you speak. Because you are a woman. A woman should always adhere to certain limitations. She should always be below her man just like the gourd which grows under its leaf. She is bound by rules but he is free to choose. To be oppressed is her religion, to oppress is his right. The concept of men and women being equal still haunts our society. Just the other day, the lady next-door got a bitter thrashing in public by her husband, at their cousin's wedding. I was enraged hearing this and provoked to meet her up. Shortly after sunset, I visited her. She was alone at the table, patiently chopping vegetables, talking to her maid at irregular intervals, who was mopping around. It was complicated hence I was bemused where to start from but she made it easier.
“It’s not a small thing to get an audience when your husband is abusing you. Indeed, I feel fortunate. Every woman should wait for such an opportunity when her husband makes her privileged by physically abusing her in public," she said with great anticipation. I was startled. "This is acute violence, it is domestic violence," I said. "No, it is all our fault," she continued. "If we go to one corner, we become cornered there. There is no one there to protect us because we do not usually tell the people who are responsible for us, where we are or where we go every minute. Now look at my beautiful anklets that my husband gifted me, this is what these are meant for." "These are nothing but ornamental leashes," I interrupted, "Through which they are claiming an authority upon you."
She further added with a smile, "Not at all, now I am safe and I indeed feel safe because of my beautiful, tinkling anklets. This sound cautions my husband and he can track me all the time. This even helps my mother-in-law to keep an eye on me every moment. After all they are everything for me and my husband is my lordship."
I couldn't hold back, “So you mean atrocities against women, abusive language, oppresive behaviour of men, all of that are women's fault?" "Yes," said she. "It is 100% a woman's fault. Now, if you tell a boy not to do certain things, you are controlling him. But we should not control a boy. Boys should do whatever they want. After all they are the future men. Hence, they should be given all the freedom and rights. They are boys, they are men who will have to control their wives in the future."
I was dumbstruck and perplexed what to say next, maybe she was right.
“Have you ever experienced peer pressure?" I asked. "I experience it every day," with a pause she continued "With my maid. Because the kitchen is the only place where women have all their rights. Oh! And marriage function too!," she added with a smile. Her answers made me baffled. "Don't you ever feel like having a full-time day job?" "Job? I already have that. I am the 'admin' of 5 Whatsapp groups! Family 1, Family 2, Cousins, Gym, the building cultural committee - I am the admin of all these groups," said she with immense delight.
“No, I am talking about real-time jobs like teaching or banking, etc." Without a pause she added, "No, you are mistaken. It is a herculean task. It takes a lot to prepare and send 'good morning' and 'good evening' messages every day. I also design those whatsapp photographs along with the messages that are meant to bring you good luck. Also during festivals, my work load increases a lot, preparations begin 10 days in advance, designing small flowers or diyas, as each flower or each diya should look different from the other. And you are telling that I should leave such important tasks that bring families together and go outside to work to gain identity and self respect? That would be so silly." I was left speechless.
“All women should have arranged marriages and not love marriages. All my cousins and even my sisters had arranged marriages where their horoscopes helped them to make the right decisions and right choices. Thus they gave birth to boys because in the end their destiny is in the hands of a man. But the girls who have love marriages are ill-fated and they give birth to girls, because their destiny is not controlled by a man."
“But you are equating love marriage to birthing boys which is absolutely irrelevant. Your anti-women empowerment ideology is quite baseless," I argued. "But how can this be?" she said. "Man is there in everything... MANagement, MANners, MANkind, MANdatory, MANual, MANufacture and even in a woMAN!"
Just then her husband came in from nowhere and interrupted, "You forgot MANure, MANiac and MAN slaughter." "Now this is called MANipulating and MANoeuvring with words", she said with a smile, "After all, he's a MAN", she muttered.
Moral of the story: A woman and a man...oops! I mean a man and a woman can never be equal.