The latest NCRB report says that on an average 87 rapes happened every day in India in the year 2019. Recently the brutality of a gang rape case in Hathras has shaken the nation, reminding us once again that India is no country for women. But what is the solution? For women to mind their sanskaar and thank those men who are not as bad as the rapists? Is it right to be grateful and praise men just because they respect us, don't abuse us, let us chase our dreams and sometimes help in housework? Why do women tend to applaud men for behaving like a human?
To be treated as equal with respect is not a favour but the right of a woman which she should demand rather than being thankful for it.
When a woman washes the dishes or cooks a meal, it is seen as her duty that needs no appreciation. But when a man does the same things or less, he is upheld with Raja Beta tag iced with lots of gratitude. When a woman chooses to continue her job, wear the dress she likes or go for night outs, she is seen as brazen and unsanskari. But if a man manages to control his ego and unwanted sexual desires that can turn him violent towards women, he is the best man of the Kalyuga.
But why there are different expectations from men and women to be respected? Why a woman has to be perfect at everything and also mind her sanskaar while men have the freedom to conduct themselves the way they want with episodes of being nice to women? Years of patriarchy has correlated femininity with domesticity, nurturing, being weak and subordinate. While masculinity is related to dominance, bread earners, the one who have access to the outside world and should be served and worshipped. If women have internalised such power relations, how will she be able to expect a man to do a work that is seen as feminine and hence menial? How will she expect a godly person to treat her, who is considered the subordinate being, as his equal?
Moreover, women are brought up as unwanted daughters in families where male child preference, gender roles are rampant. Ultimately, they don't expect that their male partners will treat them equally when their parents didn't.
But let us understand, asking men to treat their women as equals is not a 'high expectation'. It is the basic trait of humanity that does not consider the other person submissive for any reason. Women need to prioritise their self worth over being likeable to others. If women continue to believe in these power structures and uphold man for doing the bare minimum for them, equality can never be achieved. They will end up feeling obliged to do something in return for men who respect them. Aren't women serving men enough already? Do we need this gratitude and obligation to deepen the gender divide?
Of course, being thankful is good when someone does a favour to you. But to be treated as equal with respect is not a favour but the right of a woman which she should demand rather than being thankful for it. Feminism aims to establish equality as the norm and not a charity for women. It is time for the society to normalise men being supportive to women and treating them as their equals. So that any incident that shows the contrary is called out as unnatural, unacceptable and condemnable.
Views expressed are the author's own