Have you ever imagined about the definition of a woman? Well, there is no distinct definition. Rather, there is a plurality when it comes to define a woman.
Yes, a woman is always defined by others. All the pluralities about the social definitions that she is bestowed with converge at one point.
That particular point is that subservience to others. She is not subservient by herself but is made subservient by others and is considered to be a commodity. The position of the women has always been derived from the patriarchal society.
According to the Christian myth of Fall of Adam and Eve, Eve has been blamed for the fall of man. She has been blamed for getting allured by the forbidden fruit and due to this, the entire womanhood is considered to belong to the weaker section of the society.
Whenever one reads or listens to the stories, the respective lives are full of struggles and sacrifices. The basic premise of any kind of culture rests on the fact that women are always positioned at the lower rungs of the societal hierarchy.
Who decides the parameters of a woman’s social responsibilities? Who decides what is feminine and masculine? Why a woman is always supposed to stand the tests of the times?
Well, there isn’t any definite answer to such questions and the entire politics of the various kinds of discrimination based on one’s gender is highly problematic.
Difference between Sex and Gender
In order to understand the subjugated position of womenfolk, the first and foremost thing that has to be understood is the difference between sex and gender.
Sex is one’s biological orientation. The male and female sex is decided on one’s biological form. Whereas gender is a social construct.
By the term social construct what is meant is that the society defines certain rules and codes of conduct for men and women. All the strong attributes are for the men while the less demanding is meant to be fulfilled by the womenfolk’s.
If the set codes of conduct are somewhere disturbed, transgressed or for that matter subverted then the society starts discriminating the respective person. It is on the basis of these premises that the women have always been discriminated in way or the other.
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History is full of such facts wherein women have been made to go through highly painful rites and rituals in order to prove their virtuosity.
The most brutal example which can be quoted here in this context is that of Sati Pratha. In this, the wives had to burn themselves after their husbands died. Burning oneself alive is a matter of immeasurable pain. Such is the level of atrocity that women had to face.
Apart from this, the domestic space which was specifically a woman’s domain, here also women had to remain silenced. The mythical character of Philomela whose tongue was cut symbolically stands for the entire silencing of a female’s voice and also the paucity of space for a female identity.
From physical torture, mental harassment to the psychological crisis, women had to go through a lot.
One such traumatic practice which was there in the past and is also continued till today in certain families is that of dowry system.
It comprises payment of heavy amount and jewelry on the part of the bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family on the occasion of marriage. In fact, without the payment of the requisite and ransom dowry amount and materials, a girl couldn’t be married to a respectable family.
On a deeper analysis, this is a highly unjustified practice which puts a lot of pressure on the bride’s family. The pressure is not just on the familial level, but destroys the psychological standing of the bride and her family.
Effects of this Practice
The practice is not at all a justified one as it discriminates between the male and the female. Immediately, a hierarchy gets builds up wherein the bride is not considered a human but a commodity. It is this commoditization of women which acts as the major trauma.
On a highly critical level, it is indirectly considering a woman a non-living entity and buying her in order to fulfill the respective domestic duties assigned to her.
This is highly shameful and a matter of huge despair that women are discriminated in this manner. The entire onus of such a level of hypocrisy is due to the overall patriarchal mindset which does not let a woman feel equal in society.
Although there have been various kinds of reservations done in favour of the women, the four walls of the domestic space do not adhere to such rules.
This has a very bad impact on the concerned female and her family. The feeling of violation and the burden regarding the payment of the heavy amount makes such women fall into depression. And even after, such women are not safe at their husband’s homes.
Dowry is a crime. It not only puts a woman within the binaries of being saleable and ill-treated, but also affects the society’s approach towards girl child.
The issues like female feticide, not letting her go to school in order to save the respective funds for her marriage and considering a girl child simply a liability is related to the social practice of dowry.
It is a social more which is a blot on the mindsets who believe in subjugating women on the basis of their physical orientation.
The best way to put a stop to such a heinous crime is to spread awareness. In fact, in the contemporary scenario, women are also ruling the world.
They have made their own space. As Virginia Woolf, one of the famous feminist writer and critic wrote in her book, A Room of One’s Own about having women’s freedom wherein she can feel as equal as men feel.
Still, there are many rich and influential families who exercise this and should be punished under the court of law. Before being female and male, an individual is a human being.
And Providence does not distinguish regarding that. It is the humanity which must be preserved and not such hierarchies’ oppositions.
Hence, women are equal and must enjoy freedom. Each woman a phenomenal woman as Maya Angelou puts it beautifully.