Saturday, November 7, 2015

Women are made, not born.

Title of this blog post is a famous quote by French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir on womanhood. I don't know in what context he said it but when I heard it I immediately thought, wow he described it so correctly. For me this quote means, we as a society condition minds of people in believing what men and women should do, how they should behave and what are their roles in society or family. So no gender is supposed to do only certain type of things or behave in certain way, we define it and it is human creation. This quote is actually equally applicable to men, all genders are told what it is supposed to be a man or woman or a transgender and then we all try to fit into one of these roles. In modern world many people are trying to challenge these definitions and break the traditional mold but still it is not that easy. The definitions or characteristics assigned to different genders are so stereotyped that people involuntarily follow them. Men without even knowing subscribe to traditional notions of masculinity, they come under tremendous pressure to perform and succeed like men. Similarly women are forced to follow certain path, their minds are conditioned to teach them what they can do and what they can't. Once this task is successfully achieved then it is easy for patriarchal society to claim what men can do and what women can do. They create ample examples to support this hypothesis and most people agree to these things as they see many examples fitting into these notions. That is why such quotes are important, they tell us inherent flaw associated with such classification. Such quotes and thoughts force us to think and ask some questions and one of the questions should be, whatever we see around or believe is natural or manufactured by centuries of tradition and suppression of certain gender?

Our sex is determined by our DNA and now we very well understand the science behind it and also understand process of fertilization. But once we are born and start our journey in this world society and people around us start conditioning our mind. Many traditions, rituals, cultural or religion beliefs start shaping our mind in particular way. We are told about our gender and also how our gender should behave. We are also told about responsibilities and limitations of our gender roles, what boys should like and what girls are supposed to like. Most of these things slowly become part of our personality, they get embedded in our psyche. Rarely we think about questioning these things. Many of us don't ask, why only women cook in family? Why only men have to go and work outside? Why it is considered as responsibility of man to be a breadwinner of family? Why polygamy is more accepted in some societies but not polyandry? Why only women change their last names after marriage? Why there is no third gender? Now a days these type of questions are being asked and many people are trying to change the things and make things more gender neutral, but one can easily feel that society is not yet very receptive and accommodative about many of these ideas. There is still reluctance to break traditional stereotyped definition of men and women.

Many people including many women still believe that women are incapable of doing certain things but no one is willing to understand why? Is is because they are women or because for centuries they were told that they can't do these things and now suddenly we expect them to match men on every level or go back to their traditional role. Off course they will master these things one day but definitely it will take some time. Men didn't become powerful sex in one day, they got preferred treatment and favorable social atmosphere for centuries to become so called 'stronger sex'. Actually many women have already proven that they can take up any challenge thrown at them but still many of them are way far behind as they are forced to live in that age old stereotyped role but slowly they are also becoming aware of their rights and capabilities. As this awareness will spread across the world we will see more and more women entering in main stream and taking up responsible roles. If society and people around them don't try to suppress their potential then I am sure in years to come we can use this same quote in positive way, until then let's try to create an environment where everyone gets an equal opportunity irrespective of their gender.  

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

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

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