Added: Jania Parson - Date: 19.02.2022 09:39 - Views: 10237 - Clicks: 2727
There is a set of constant questions that I keep getting asked by most people around me — Can I cook? Do I speak English? Can I drape a saree? Do I observe certain religious rituals every morning? Do I love my country? Did I ever go out with a white man? Of these, the most regular questions are whether I can cook and whether I can even barely speak my own language. Over years of colonisation and Eurocentric education has left us hanging almost in the middle of nowhere. In the present Indian society, patriarchy wants women to be modern, yet follow the norms that are specified for them, with respect to their attires, education, marital practices, societal contribution, and sexuality.
Historically speaking, this stringent categorisation of women has part of its roots since British rule. This further aggravated the restrictions on female sexuality, whereby women could be kept under pressure from all corners of society. However, the overarching factor behind the propagation all these practices was patriarchy.
However, the British were not the only ones to define the good and bad woman in their own terms. Way before they invaded India, the caste system — since the Vedic times — played an important role in determining the clothing patterns that women had to follow, hence gaining complete control of the female body. While dominant caste women were required to cover their bodies, it was quite the opposite for non-dominant caste women.
In the 19 th century, there was a peculiar rule that had cropped up, in which non-dominant caste women had to pay taxes for covering their breasts with clothes or jewellery. In Kerala, this was the rule imposed by one of the powerful kings of that time, who sent his people to collect taxes from non-dominant caste families where women covered their breasts, especially in public spaces. A woman named Nangeli cut off her breasts in protest of the tax levied on them.
Along came the British colonisers, who propagated the Victorian idea of covering the female body. This practice was picked up very quickly by the dominant castes, mainly Brahmins. The idea of wearing a blouse along with the saree developed during that period. But in the twentieth century, the rise of the new middle class in India gave birth to nationalism and a different kind of binary, between the Orient and the Occident. Nationalist movements took over the subcontinent by storm when people shunned the mechanisms of the colonisers. Since then, the notion of the female body and the role of women in nation-building has always been under scrutiny.
Women are categorised into the binaries of positive influence and negative influence in society. Victimising women for their choice of garments, today, is done on the basis of that India is a traditional society that does not allow women to rise against patriarchy. The binary of public versus private is associated with men versus women. While men are expected to work in the public domain and provide economic aid to their families, women are expected to perform the domestic work, and provide cultural and emotional support to their families, mainly their husbands and children.
Women are not expected to be more educated than men, as it might lead to a societal imbalance within the patriarchal system. Therefore, women who rebel against this misogynist structure and educate themselves well above the glass ceiling set by society, are seen as being disrespectful towards society. Nowadays there are women who try to break free from their cages to contribute to the employment sector. The state, along with corporate sectors, perpetually tries to keep women at bay, imposing regulations on them in terms of pregnancy and by setting lower income levels.
Sex workers do not occupy honourable places in society, as female sexuality is something that is considered serene, to be protected and preserved to maintain respectability. Most importantly, the issue of marital rape goes absolutely unnoticed in this sea of arguments.
Marital rape is not considered a crime because women are constrained by regulations to submit to the demands of their spouses. They are considered sexual labourers within their own households, not having the ultimate right on their own bodies. As long as we do not give women the agency to move ahead and be independent, very little can change.
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Contact. The Breakthrough Voice 6th November, Historical events that gave way to the present situation Historically speaking, this stringent categorisation of women has part of its roots since British rule. Who is a good woman and who is a bad woman? Leave A Comment. Get Involved. the generation that is working to make the world equal and violence-free.
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