Saturday, February 22, 2014

The war from within...struggle of women to break internal barriers.

I wrote quite a few posts about gender discrimination against women happening in various societies and cultures. This discrimination can be in many forms; it can be in form of some rituals or customs, it can be in form of some religious beliefs which put some restrictions on them just because their gender or it can be in form of some laws which prohibits women from doing something just because they are women (like driving in Saudi Arabia). All these examples are just a few among many which I want to mention here if readers are interested they can find more information about these things on web. Women all over world are trying to fight against many of these discriminatory practices. They along with all feminist movements managed to achieve lot of progress in this area but still a lot of work need to be done. When I wrote few posts related with this subject I came across few comments where women commented in favor of some of very common prejudices against them (like women are inferior to men or less capable than men). All these women were educated, working women. I was little surprised by this but not shocked because I have seen in my personal life many women who somehow believe that they are not as capable as men just because they are woman. Years of male dominated society and patriarchal culture has made them believe this. Many of them also believe that they need support of some man in their life in order to be safe and survive in this world. Many also think that "when you live in the society, whether you like it or not you need to follow all these social norms". One of the norm of patriarchal society is that women are inferior to men and this thought is propagated directly or indirectly. 'Women are born to serve men' this thought is propagated in various ways in different cultures. There are many discriminative traditions or rituals. Even some stories which are part of great epics or holy books try to propagate these type of views either directly or indirectly. Social norms which encourage any form of discrimination either directly or indirectly should be challenged and questioned no matter from where they come and how old they are.

These views are propagated since centuries and slowly they have become the part of our society's mindset. Many people think that this is our culture and tradition. They think this needs to be preserved at any cost because after all all these things were designed by our ancestors for betterment of our society so why should we change them? The strong influence of this type of patriarchal culture has resulted in many internal barriers and self doubts in women's minds. I would like to quote from book Lean In where author Sheryl Sandberg writes very nicely about the barriers women face from within "In addition to the external barriers erected by society, women are hindered by barriers that exist within ourselves. We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in. We internalize the negative messages we get throughout our lives—the messages that say it’s wrong to be outspoken, aggressive, more powerful than men. We lower our own expectations of what we can achieve."

Years of brainwashing and suppression has created element of self doubt not only in minds of large number of women but also in minds of many people from certain races, castes or communities. This internal barriers created by self doubt are not that easy to break as they have strong support of years of traditions which reinforce them from generation to generation. May be there was need for some of these traditions back then, may be that society required certain type of different policies to protect women, but we live in totally different world today and many of these barriers need to go. In today's world every gender and section of society should be given equal opportunity to explore their potential. Why it's always a woman who has to choose between family and career? Why this unfair dilemma is only forced on them? As a society what are we doing so that women don't have to face this dilemma (most men don't face it)? Even though all these questions are relevant it is also true that first women need to overcome their internal barriers. Already attitude is so hostile towards them, with these internal barriers in place they should not expect any special favors from society. If they fail to break these barriers then it will be very difficult for them to break the external barriers set by society or culture. I think they need to win war from within to win this was against gender discriminationOnce they overcome internal barrier then it will be just a matter of time that they break external barriers also.

I would like to end this post with another quote from the book Lean In, "Internal obstacles are rarely discussed and often underplayed. Throughout my life, I was told over and over about inequalities in the workplace and how hard it would be to have a career and a family. I rarely heard anything, however, about the ways I might hold myself back. These internal obstacles deserve a lot more attention, in part because they are under our own control. We can dismantle the hurdles in ourselves today. We can start this very moment."

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

2 comments:

  1. Nice article Vinay. Much apprecaited.

    Sandhiti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Sandhiti for your kind words.

      Delete