Fragility And Femininity: Reasons Used To Restrain Women
BJP MLA from Goa, Alina Saldanha recently reasoned that women are feminine and fragile and thus they should not be made to work night shift jobs. She also added that women should stay at home during night, else their children may feel ‘lost’. According to an Outlook report, Saldanha was speaking to reporters outside the state legislative assembly where she said, “Women are said to be feminine and femininity means they are fragile, compared to their counterparts. I don’t think it is fair that the lady should go through the hardship, having to work in the night,” further adding, “They are mothers, they have so many responsibilities and the children are there. Without the mother, the children are lost in the house. They do not know what to do. The presence of the mother in the house is very essential.”
- BJP MLA Alina Saldanha said women are feminine and fragile as compared to their counterparts.
- Thus, according to her, women shouldn’t work in night shifts.
- She also said that mothers should stay at home at night; else their children may feel ‘lost’.
- Why are politicians using banal arguments, instead of striving to create a safe environment for women?
Saldanha says women are fragile compared to their counterparts (men), but how does this justify her stance that women should stay at home at night? Why are we still placing accountability of women’s safety on their own shoulders?
There is so much wrong with Saldanha’s statement, that one doesn’t even know where to begin. Instead of advocating creation of a safe environment for working women, Saldana thinks they should stay at home. Once again politicians are advocating preventive pressures, instead of addressing issues like male entitlement and aggression which actually endanger women. Does femininity make women fragile? Can’t women be both feminine and strong? Why do we still attribute strength as a trait exclusive to men? Saldanha says women are fragile compared to their counterparts (men), but how does this justify her stance that women should stay at home at night?
Advocating that women shouldn’t step out of their homes at night because they are fragile is such a banal argument; we have been hearing it for centuries. It places the accountability of women’s safety on their own shoulders, instead of conditioning men to behave properly. This also gives such men a right to harass women who step out at night, because they are clearly flaunting social norms and restrictions which had been put in place for their well-being. Keeping women under lock and key at night isn’t a long term viable solution. Ensuring proper upbringing among boys and strict discouragement of harassment of women during any time of the day is the real solution. But alas both our leaders and patriarchal society are busy procrastinating and would burden women with more norms because that is much easier.
Indian men are finally warming up to the idea that household chores and parenting aren’t solely women’s duty. But if we don’t put arguments like, “The presence of the mother in the house is very essential,” to rest, they will discourage men from stepping into parenting duties, as they may feel incompetent as compared to their partners.
Another excuse given by Saldanha is that as mothers, women should be at home during night time, else their children will feel ‘lost’. This again underlines child-care as solely women’s duty in our society, which is also unfair to millions of father who are excellent caregivers. Indian men are finally warming up to the idea that household chores and parenting aren’t solely women’s duty. They are making efforts to be hands-on parents, thus helping their partners to have flourishing careers. Men helping with childcare is a big factor in women achieving financial independence. But if we don’t put arguments like, “The presence of the mother in the house is very essential,” or, “when children have to go to school, the mother has to be there at home to get them ready for school the next day,” to rest, they will discourage men from stepping into parenting duties, as they may feel incompetent as compared to their partners.
Women’s femininity has long been used against them, to restrain their growth in the world that exists outside their homes. But women have outgrown such discouragement. We know being ‘womanly’ isn’t a disadvantage and we also know that fragility isn’t an argument that can be used to keep us at homes. We are now looking at the society and our elected leaders to make this world a safer place for us, where the accountability for any misdemeanour lies where it truly belongs. The question is, are they ready to stop hiding behind out-dated arguments?
Picture Credit: womenpla.net
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.