Have you quit beating your wife?
It is a loaded question, put forth to a man to trap him. It tries to taunt him even when he answers the question in either way – affirmative or negative. But the contemporary man is very clever. Known for circumventing things, he will simply brush aside the question with a smile. For he knows he cannot even raise his hand against the woman at home as the DVA 2005 stares at him constantly.
But, a man from the Victorian era would be more honest. He would, without any hesitation, take this question in his stride and answer it in the negative. For, back in centuries, husbands had the privilege of beating their wives. But the stick they use for beating should not be longer than their thumbs. They called it a ‘thumb rule. And the savage male society cherished having such a rule.
Good god, womenfolk was not allowed to move in bed even during intimate movements not to speak of moaning or groaning.
Confucius must be mad when he said:
“The woman’s duty is to prostrate herself submissively before her husband in such a way as to have no will of her own, but to demonstrate a perfect form of obedience.”
The society got wild oats sown in its midst because of the Chinese philosopher. He was only responsible for the emerging of the patriarchs and the misogynist clan in later years. I guess Confucius’s spirit had not gone anywhere. That the thinker’s spirit got hold of a former UP CM became evident when he refused to condemn a gang of rapists, but cherished calling them as ‘boys are boys’.
Women were like personal effects of males in the bygone centuries. Heeding to Confucius’s advice, the patriarchal society made women subservient to them. Even Eve knew the agony of being a woman as soon as god created her. While munching an apple, she heard a voice telling her, ‘He [Adam] shall rule over you’. Shakespeare and Milton too told the women ‘to keep silent, be modest and accept a lesser place.
At last the inevitable that was in boil had exploded. When oppressed women rose in rebellion it was like bomb blasts. It became necessary for the 18th century women just show to the society that there existed another human species called ‘Woman.’ They had to wage many battles before getting them released from men’s cages. Their organized strength and indomitable spirit won them not full freedom, but a semblance of esteem.
The birth of the 20th century was like spring for women. For women folks who were chattels, at last, heard gratifying words like ‘freedom for women’,’ women’s empowerment’ et al. They are now free to scale the walls set for men. There are now no domains exclusively ear marked for the male. Fair sex can grab them and pitch in their tents with flourish. They now don’t have to fear about Confucius, who had once commanded them to kiss the men’s feet.
But the euphoria and exhilaration the present century gave women was short lived. It was to the discomfiture of women that only a minimal percentage of them are able to climb the higher rungs of society and enter men’s turfs. A vast majority of unlettered and economically deprived women is still at the mercy of their spouses for survival. Like their counterparts in the Victorian era, they too are getting beaten by their partners not with the proverbial thumb-like sticks, but iron rods.
They say Confucius is dead and gone. They claim there is all round progress in women’s life. And the chains that tied them to stakes have already been broken. Free birds, they could now fly anywhere in search of new horizons.
All hyperbole. If women are in such eminent positions, why there is a law to protect them against violence? Why we needed to get a Statue amended to prevent harassment against them in work places? Why women are denied entry to temples following the 400 year traditional ban? Patriarchal society might have cast off its anti-woman outfits, but not their mindsets. Most men have Confucius lurks in their minds who would come out on demand.
Deepa is a smart young lady, a go-getter. An executive in an MNC she earns handsome pay. Her family too is affluent. A chirpy young woman she gets her life derailed past marriage. Having a drunken ape for a husband, she gets thrashed daily for trivial reasons. Life becomes so thorny for her that it gives her only bruises and wounds.
Parvathy, our maid, is not like Deepa. Uneducated, she is homebound, looking after her three children. Her husband, though a labor, earns a decent daily wage. But he spends his earnings on drinks and cherish being drunken all through day and night. On the days when he has no work, he would pester Parvathy for money and beat her black and blue.
Of the two, Deepa could hit back at her hubby and walk out on him. But she is silent, helpless. Since she doesn’t want the society to look askance at her – she is very much scared of the social stigma as her caste is not kindly disposed to single women – she chooses to live in her marital home. She is ready to get mortified … ready to bear with her husband’s physical assaults. She doesn’t give a damn to her emotional and psychological damage.
Parvathy is not bound by any social stigma like Deepa. But, she too cannot avoid putting up with a hellish life as she is emotionally and financially dependent on her husband.
Enacting more laws won’t solve women’s troubles and trials. It is time for men to change their Confucius-oriented mindset against women. They should assist the weaker sex set their sails towards a new world of freedom.
Women too need to treat the world as their own. They don’t have to feel they are living in that slice of the world leased out to them by men. They could live their own life, not the one expected by the society. For, besides seeking happiness and love they must strive to find themselves in life. The world waiting outside their homes can be explored and tamed only if they become ferocious tigresses not timid chicks.
Happy Women’s Day.