Welcome a new author here on Ronovan Writes. Hope you enjoy these looks into the world by a highly intelligent, business minded young woman from India who is striking out to make a name for herself in a new country. Her’s the first article here on Ronovan Writes by Akriti Mattu. For her personal blog, click here.
An Indian woman is one of the most diverse creations of God. Endowed richly with diversity and culture, the 29 states of India have women that vary greatly from one. However, one thing that is common to women across cultures, religions, and ethnicities is the shifting power dynamics of the man – woman relationship in contemporary India.
In the last two decades, India has witnessed a massive leap in science and technology. As with many societies with such advancements, people have become more aware of themselves as individuals and of their rights. With this new awareness has come a gradual change in Indian society itself. This gradual remodeling and restructuring is having a huge impact on the average Indian citizen, especially young women and men from my generation.
The Modern Woman
A modern Indian woman can be liberal and sassy. She’s not afraid of being herself anymore. Being aware of her identity as an individual, she does not want that identity to be masked by roles of a mother, a daughter and a wife alone. She wants to be known in the world for who she is. Her true self is what matters now. Good thing is many Indian men are not lagging behind the times.
Parents are becoming increasingly supportive of educating their daughters and making them at par with their sons. They are realizing the importance of education and financial independence of women. The literacy rate in India has shot up to 74.04 % from 64.84 %. For women it is 65.46 %, as compared to 53.67% previously.
However, as women are becoming increasingly independent and conscious of their rights, there are some people who are not responding well to this transformation. There is a section of men who feel threatened by successful, educated and well aware women. They even go to the extreme extent of claiming they feel emasculated in the presence of powerful women. A powerful woman by their definition is any woman who is independent, educated and hence successful. They are conservative in the context of not liking women to be given any freedom or liberty. I call such men threatened.
For hundreds of years when women were subjugated and denied even basic rights, men like these were in their comfort zone. They were at the top of an imaginary pyramid with the excellent support system provided by the woman at the base.
But now? The pyramid has inverted with the base at the top and the peak, with the man, at the bottom. Therefore this reversal is seen by some as a dangerous trend. Not only do they feel vulnerable, they don’t like other men endorsing this change.
At one hand where we see a rise of a new India with women earning well and advancing in their careers, topping entrance examinations, making it to top positions of private companies, public sector units, bureaucracy, defense services, aviation, technology etc., at the other hand we see a dark reality that cannot be ignored; the reality of trepidation and fear is still being instilled across quarters.
I’d like to point out this gap in India does not really lie between the rural and urban India but with the mentality – Archaic versus Modern. While there are people in rural India who are well aware of the gradual change, there are literate people in cities which shame us. No wonder it is said that literacy and education are different concepts. They are not mutually inclusive.
A short but powerful documentary was recently made by a British film maker – Leslee Udwin, and was aired on the BBC. It is a re-enactment of the brutal gang rape of a 23 year old girl whom India calls ‘Nirbhaya’ (It is the Hindi word for fearless). This brutal gang rape happened on the 16th December, 2012 in the heart of the Indian Capital – New Delhi. This young girl, Nirbhaya is representative of the contemporary Indian woman. In fact she epitomizes the changing ‘power dynamic’, I wrote about before.
As a young girl of 23, like many other young women, Nirbhaya had high hopes and aspirations. She wanted to make an impact on the world around her. She wanted to contribute her bit to society and be a part of the ‘changing India’. She did make an impact and she did contribute to change – After her death.
The innocent young woman was so brutally gang raped she succumbed to internal injuries and died. The perpetrators were such predators they even took out her intestines. This incident shocked the nation and men and women across India came to the streets. Candle light marches were held. Protests were made. Pain was felt. Empathy was spread. People across castes, class, creed, age groups, professions and gender came as one. Nirbhaya united India.
Men across quarters fought for the spirit of the brave woman who died and for the women across the country. Nobody asked these men to fight for women’s safety. They did it on their own. This is one of the biggest signs of seeing an evolved male mentality. It was a proud moment. Not only did men become a part of the protests, they took a vow to not even eve-tease women for the sake of fun.
The brutality of the sexual assault on Nirbhaya made men cringe and bow down their heads in shame as men. They wanted to prove that, “all men are not the same” and they did. This is just one recent incident but there are many others. Every time a case of sexual violence, female foeticide, dowry death, honour killing comes to the fore, the modern Indian man extends full support to their female counterparts. It makes them feel sick that society treats women unjustly. Men like these are secure men. They don’t feel emasculated in the presence of powerful, liberated women. Instead, they take pride of having such women around as role models.
However in spite of men like these, the ‘dark reality’ will do whatever it takes to hold back the women in their lives. They have an outmoded mentality, where the mere thought of a free woman is seen as a threat, a danger.
These are the kinds of men which take resorts like throwing acids on women when they turn down their proposals or indulging in sexual crimes to shame a woman, as a way of revenge for being free. They are the kinds of men who force their spouses to abort female fetuses in the womb itself. The mere existence of a girl child is undesirable to them. It is because of men like these that some places in India are now facing skewed sex ratios. Saddest part is that these men are ‘educated’ men. They consist of lawyers, bureaucrats, technocrats, even teachers and doctors. This is the section of society I personally despise.
I have always been a free spirit, therefore when I see people with such dogmatic attitudes; it comes across as an alien concept. Women must stand up against such rigid attitudes. They must start the process of empowerment within and most importantly, make ties in solidarity with other women who suffer. Only then can India rise and shine, and live up to the dream of being a progressive nation in the true sense.
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