Friday, September 1, 2006

In Favour of Women

In Favour of Women

By Narendra Luther

The world is divided unequally between men and women. As he last census confirmed, men outnumber women in our country – heavily in some of our states. That is one reason why men chase women. In some countries like Russia in which millions of men got killed in World War II, there is a shortage of men and so it is women who chase men. In nudist colonies I understand men dream of clothed women. I am not concerned here with the number and type of women but their position in society. There is no doubt that whatever their number, women are discriminated against everywhere in varying degrees. Historically they have been confined to the hearth and home. Nature too has made them in such a way that they are believed to be unable to stand shoulder to shoulder with men though a number of more interesting postures are permitted.

Over the years women have been agitating against the disabilities and handicaps imposed on them by male – dominated society. It is indeed surprising that it took women more than a century of agitation to secure the right to vote. The ballot paper is surely not a weight which the ‘weaker sex’ could not carry since the weakest amongst them are condemned to much harder labour even within the four walls of their homes A woman has to work twice as hard as man to be considered equal to him. Many of the disabilities imposed on them have been gradually removed and more are in the process of further elimination. Women are now allowed in the armed forces of many countries including ours, some say on the basis of their superiority in combat demonstrated at home. They have flown into space.

The Male View

First, it is necessary that men’s minds be disabused of the notion that they work harder than women. The nature of their work may be different but it certainly is not less arduous. One such man who thought he worked harder than his wife, wanted to see after all what his wife did the whole day that she complained about having been tired at night.

So he prayed: "Dear Lord: I go to work every day and put in 8 hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go through, so please allow her body to switch with mine for a day”. God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish. The next morning, sure enough, the man awoke as a woman.

He arose, cooked breakfast for his mate, awakened the kids, Set out their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the cleaners. On the way he stopped at the bank to make a deposit, went grocery shopping, then drove home to put away the groceries, paid the bills and balanced the chequebook.

He cleaned the cat's litter box and bathed the dog. Then it was already 1 P.M. and he hurried to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor. After that he ran to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument with them on the way home. He then set out milk and cookies and got the kids organized to do their homework then set up the ironing board and watched TV while he did the ironing. At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad, breaded the lamb chops and snapped fresh beans for supper. After supper, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded laundry, bathed the kids, and put them to bed.

At 9 P.M. he was exhausted and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.
The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said, “Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

The Lord replied, "My son, I feel you have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the way they were. You'll just have to wait nine months, though. You got pregnant last night."

The Female Angle

On the other hand, there is the story of a delegation of women who went to God to complain why they were made to undergo labour pains. Why don’t men get them, they asked. God said there was some wisdom in the way He had arranged matters. Women were adamant and so God agreed that the for the next birth in their locality the prospective father would suffer the pangs of labour. Soon a baby was due. When the woman was ready to deliver, it was the man in the third house who went into labour pains!

The moral is that we should not envy the other sex for the role assigned to them on considerations of biological differences. But beyond that surely women can do a lot of work that at present is being done by men.

Whither Woman

Sometime back our own Indian School of Business at Hyderabad ran a daylong seminar on the subject on the subject of enhancing the scope for women to take on more of the type of work that is traditionally considered the male preserve. Some highly successful women entrepreneurs came and spoke about their experience and their aspirations. I was glad to see such women and even felt proud of their achievements. Every body agreed that indeed they should be encouraged to go further. But our legislators will not pass the Bill granting them 30 per cent reservation and go on blaming some invisible opposition for that.

Sitting there, I wondered whether they ever realized that women were the worst enemies of women? The mother discriminates against her daughter in favour of her son. She wants her daughter to be packed off in marriage at the earliest. Then the mother-in-law proceeds to smother her no end. She leads the pack in declaring war on her if she happens to carry a female fetus.

Also a question worried me. Why were they eyeing the greener side of the hedge without having achieved excellence in their traditional domain? Why was it that the world’s best cooks, best tailors cutters and drapers, best fashion leaders, best interior designers, were men, not women? After all they had been at these jobs since the beginning of life. Why do they want to put on soldiers’ uniform, fly planes and sit on boards of companies?

But then afraid of being dubbed as an MCP, I kept quiet. That is one thing I have learnt from women who are content to be women and are even proud of their identity. But don’t misunderstand me. I like women. I am all in their favour.