In an era where Millennials rule the roost – be it start-ups, social media movements, being able to tell their own story, deliberately detached from the wisdom of the generations past: either wholly or in part, lines have become blurred between genders, sexes, classes, races and ages.
This has essentially facilitated reinventing definitions, redefining concepts and calling ourselves a “better” version of our predecessors. In the wake of International Women’s Day, I would like to speak about the metamorphosing perspectives of the generation: how we view the female identity. Has the post-modern mind completely purged itself of the ignorance? Ignorance about the so called supremacy of the male gender?
Historically, the cultural and socio-political perception of the female form has quite a story to tell – from the revered mother, life-blood, sacred vessel, to a subdued possession who is still gauged by whether or not she is ‘spoken for’. This blog post isn’t about radical feminism. It isn’t an angry member of the aggrieved gender airing out a much reiterated point about how half of the world’s population has been subjugated, subjected to eras of constant injustices. Nay. This is an opinion piece about the oversimplification of the term justice -case in point, gender equality- and how, falsely so, many appear appeased, sometimes even disproportionately threatened, agitated by “justice served”. Is it, really though?
We, as a society of inspired thinkers (not enough credit is given in that department) sate ourselves with how far we have come in restoring the woman’s status as an ‘equal’ being. Equal to the male counterpart.
But the error in our ways- both men and women alike, thank socialization, is so blatantly obvious: the woman is spoken of in relation to the man. The male entity somehow, owing to historical precedence has become the reference point, the go to identity for an example of a human being.
The yardstick for progress whose application is in part accurate, is comparing how far we’ve come as a society with practices of yesteryears. Is it still a relevant accomplishment (albeit a mammoth one) that Sati was abolished by the British Raj? Sure. If this were the 1800s. But today, discrimination, much like any other phenomenon repainted by the sands of time looks nothing like what it used to.
Yet, it is extremely pertinent to note that it leaves one feeling just as taken aback when the waiter at a restaurant instinctively hands over the bill to the man at the table. The relevant question that constantly needs asking is: is it just when equality is treated by one half of the population (however instinctively, however subtly) as a privilege that threatens their place as one that somehow holds control? The irony lies in the truth that said ‘control’ is a wild-goose chase that ignorance embraces. A lie we have told ourselves which in turn has derailed us from the journey toward a peaceful symbiosis and unfortunately towards a battle of the egos.
In the age of the modern career woman, for every award, every act of recognition, every celebratory Instagram post, there is the ever so slight, ever so subtle act of passive aggressive indignance from our counterpart sex. An indignance that reminds us that we at best are equal, but separate. Or as close to equal as we could get, in this space and time. The psychological divide is so deeply wedged between us, that only an exhibition of vulnerability, trust and acceptance will pry out that varmint of a divide.
Like a friend spoke, the concept of justice, like everything else, is a matter of perspective. And we can truly admit justice has been served when all the perspectives come together in agreement about one important component- humanity.
“But as I argued and argued, Okaloma looked at me and said ‘you know you’re a feminist?’ It was not a compliment.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston; Author of We Should All Be Feminists.
By Abhirrami D
Abhirrami D is presently practicing Law under a Senior Counsel at the High Court of Hyderabad, and has a penchant for recycled home decor.