To call woman the weaker sex is a libel; it is man’s injustice to woman. If by strength is meant brute strength, then, indeed, is woman less brute than man. If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. Has she not greater intuition, is she not more self-sacrificing, has she not greater powers of endurance, has she not greater courage? Without her, man could not be. If nonviolence is the law of our being, the future is with woman. Who can make a more effective appeal to the heart than woman? –Mahatma Gandhi

The very famous quote by M.K. Gandhi questions society’s view on strength and women.

Gandhi claimed that this perception of men being stronger than women is nothing but a matter of conditioning. Conditioning done by the society, through customs, tradition, laws and rituals.

And yet he, himself fell victim to society’s view in calling women self-sacrificing, a result of this age-old conditioning of genders.

Isn’t this self-effacing Indian woman the pitiful product of a deeply patriarchal society? This glorification of the subservient aspects of women is just another way of binding women in their own weakness.

Could it be the conspiracy of the opposite sex to contain the immense power of women that could potentially cause them defeat? There can be many arguments to this theory with no possible conclusion.

Only the fact remains; by force or by propaganda women have been made to feel weaker and inferior to men. We are made to depend on men for protection. Even if we’re financially stable and emotionally fulfilled, society doesn’t accept our independence. No, we must need a man; we must be in the company of a man or else we’re called names, speculated upon about our character and questioned about our judgment.

What could have caused for her to be middle-aged and single? She must be flawed somehow to be unable to hold onto a man. She’s not pretty enough or slim enough or smart enough or moral enough for men to want her. And because she is undesirable to men she is unworthy of living a fulfilling life. And because she is undesirable to men, she doesn’t deserve respect of any kind.

Do we not often find ourselves speculating upon the character of many women on lines similar to these?

Why are we so willful to jump to such conclusions? Why can’t we simply accept a person’s choice of dissociation without casting insinuations upon their character?

Women must have the right to shape their life.

According to Gandhi, Chastity cannot be protected by the surrounding wall of the Purdah.  It must grow from within and it must be capable of withstanding every unsought temptation.

The question he rightfully raises is the obsession of society with purity of women.

Why must it be so important for women to maintain their dignity and honor to sustain respect in society? The mere idea should be looked at as a disgrace to men and their glorious race. It likens man to a loathsome, scary creature that lacks self-control and respect. If one were to agree to this opinion of men, one must also agree to keep such an untamed creature caged. Even with that conclusion, I fail to understand why ultimately, it is women who are made to sacrifice? Why are they asked to stay inside the house and cover themselves up? Moreover, why must women need men to protect themselves, when it is only these men they seek protection from?

One of the biggest causes of degraded status of women in society is the importance of chastity as a virtue that is imposed upon them since time immemorial. Chastity is not an exclusively female virtue; it applies to both the genders equally. The one who molest loses his virtue as much as the one who is molested. In fact, not only purity of body but he also loses purity of mind and character stooping himself down to the lowest of stature. Such offenders should not only be punished by law but should also be bereaved of all respect and honor in the society. An inhumane act of violence should be met with equal and just retribution.

We have lost the true woman with ages and ages of conditioning. It is really hard to separate society from women. Is subservient nature of women a result of societal remodeling or a cause of societal ideology. Are women naturally weak or strong?

We cannot possibly hope to erase ages of socialization at various levels that fit us in a hierarchical structure with men being on top but we can try to build a better future for the next generation where no hierarchy exists, only co-existence and co-dependence leading to a peaceful environment.

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