Modern’ – the linguistic definition of this word can be given as someone who is inclined to practices that are different, if not in contradiction, to the traditional and archaic value system. Now if we go on to associate this word to today’s society, especially keeping the situation of women as the matter of our concern, it would be oddly difficult to justify this association. This is because, even though today’s society has progressed leaps and bounds in all the aspects, the change in its mentality, which is at the root of the matter in question, has left a great deal to be desired. The most relevant adjective that can still be associated with today’s society is ‘patriarchal’. Most of the men, even in this era, still believe themselves to be at the center of the women’s worlds.
There are many words like ‘women empowerment’, ‘gender equality’, ‘feminism’, etc. that are often found to be trending in recent times, but the number of people who actually understand the meaning of these words, as well as practice or apply these concepts, is downright pathetic. Our own history, through the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, gives us ample proof that exploitation of women only leads to the eventual destruction of society. And it seems highly doubtful that we have learnt anything from the past.
There are many people who think otherwise; they would argue that the times are changing. They believe that women have finally started getting their due worth. Now a days, women have been successful in acquiring the senior most positions in multi-million-dollar companies; they hold the reins of entire nations. They can be seen biting gold in all kinds of competitive sports. Women today can be seen accomplishing much more than their recognized potential.
It is clear that women are not confined to the four walls of the kitchen anymore, but even today if you ask them if they are living as dignified a life as they aspired to live, you will hear more refusals than affirmations as their answer. This is because, even today, the inbox of the most successful female celebrity is filled with lewd and distasteful messages than that of appreciation and applause. This is because, the suggestions of a female board member are still scoffed at, at least initially. This is because, the sports attire of a female athlete is still sexualized. This is because, a village girl getting an opportunity to educate herself is still considered lucky. This is because, even the mention of the natural, biological phenomenon of menstruation is still being scandalized. These reasons are just the tip of the iceberg, including the obvious ones like a glaring increase in the number of rape crimes, sexual abuse, molestation, eve teasing, trafficking; the list goes on and on.
Now, if you ask why does exploitation of women still prevail after all these years, the answer to this question is that, while few of the practices that were followed during the ancient times could partially be justified during that time, the people even today have failed to move on and change with time as there has been little evolution in the mentality and beliefs concerning the treatment of women in our society. One of the examples to support the statement is that a woman still needs permission from her in-laws to work, or wear a certain type of clothes after marriage. The distribution of roles and responsibilities between men and women that is prevalent even today does not justify the modernization and progression that the society claims to be living in during this era at all. And it’s not only the men who are at fault here. A considerable part of the women fraternity today has adapted to these
problems to an extent that they have become completely oblivious to the existence of this issue and have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the exploitation of their own gender.
So how do we change this? Passing favourable laws, giving out benefits, offering reservations, etc. won’t eradicate this issue completely. To remove this problem, we must attack the root of it, and thus work towards bringing about a change in the mentality and thought process of the society. It can be an excruciatingly slow and long process. But reforming the educational and socio-economic system of the society to make it more favourable to the upliftment of the status of women can be a good start. Otherwise, we will still have to live with the irony that, even though they are referred to as ‘the fairer sex’, women hardly have anything that could be considered fair to them.