There has been a slow yet visible drive to ensure women's invisibilisation from cultural narrative. We are witnessing an increased trimming of women’s role in shaping our culture and in our mythology too. Even gods have not escaped this desire to belittle the feminine role in the ways of the world. Which is why we see more of Ram without his Sita or Krishna without his Radha and even Shiva sans his Shakti. But who is so desperate to see women gone from the social, cultural and religious narrative in India?
- We are witnessing an increased trimming of women’s role in our mythology or shaping of our culture.
- The invisibilisation of women through political and spiritual discourse is worrying.
- People are not advocating glorification of men or belittling of women to re-establish our skewered gender dynamics. They are advocating imbalance.
- Imbalance in power and rights in society can never lead to prosperity and which is why patriarchy needs to stop rejecting women.
Pattanaik says, “When you see all the images of the gods in all the political posters. Even when gurujis build big idols of gods, they only do the male form and never the female form. Ram is being seen without Sita, Krishna is being seen without Radha, Shiva is being seen without Parvati in all political posters. Krishna is shown with Sudarshan chakra, not with raas leela. Why? Who is cutting out the women from the stories? They say ‘Hum Ram ki murti banaenge,’ bahiyya Siya Ram ki murti kyun nahi?' And these are the questions to be asked. The invisibilisation of women through political and spiritual discourse.” He further added that there is the position given to someone who rejects the woman, is a superior one. And we must ask why?
If one had to take a wild guess as to who would gain most from wiping out women from the narrative, then it would be none other than the institution of patriarchy.
Those who believe in extremist ideology, of any kind, often uphold patriarchy as a righteous and straightforward system which is the ideal way a society function. According to this system, only men should remain visible in our social narrative, as they earn money, build homes and businesses and society. In short, it is men who run the world and women who stay back in the house caring for their family and making babies. They don’t run the world certainly, hence why must they have any place in the narrative?
Which is why women are disappearing from posters and their roles and characters serve only as plot points in mythology today. People don’t talk about their significance, nor do they realise that male gods are in fact incomplete without their better halves. Imagine a world where Shiva is without his Shakti. Or how distraught Rama was when he was away from Sita. Yet, people separate these gods from their female counterparts, paying no heed to the imbalance it creates.
Patriarchy wants people to forget how important and vital women are in this society. That women have done more in shaping of the human civilisation, than serve with their wombs to ensure the existence of mankind.
Rejecting or whitewashing women from the context may seem convenient many, but one needs to ask how can that ever be good in the long run. People are not advocating glorification of men or belittling of women to re-establish our skewered gender dynamics. They are advocating imbalance. Imbalance in power and rights in society can never lead to prosperity and which is why patriarchy needs to stop rejecting women. The fact is that women refuse to be invisible anymore. You can wipe off our faces from the posters and reduce our roles via discourse. But you cannot deny that women are as vital to the existence of mankind as men. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot make this fact of life disappear.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.