Even before we began to keep track of events woman has been treated as an object to be possessed and displayed, rather than an equal with man. It hasn’t helped that it is the woman who bears and rears the child. It is the woman who needs to take time off to go do what nature allows only her to do. Man on his part gets a much fuller run in a position allowing him to ensure continuity to policies about which he is most passionate. Therefore, it is not really a big surprise that the rules that govern society are skewed towards the men. Give this process thousands of years and it is not very surprising to see where we reached.
From the barbaric practice of sati in India, to male polygamy in various religions, to using the rape of women as a weapon of war in the Congo, we have proven to ourselves just how much we can objectify the very being that gave us birth and turn her into nothing more than an object of sexual fulfillment, carrier of our seed and a trophy of war.
The sad part of the story is that most of the battles in this long, hard war are being fought in the wrong battlefields. It isn’t important how many women CEO are there in the world, nor is it important how many women teachers are there in our education system and reserving spots for women in Parliament is no great victory. The major battles are the ones being fought by women in their everyday lives, at home, at work and in society. We have to make it possible for women to come forward and speak out about the little known atrocities which take place every day but which go unnoticed and unpunished.
By pushing women to compete with men in the workforce or in any traditionally masculine bastion, we are forcing the women to play the role of man. It is not just unfair, it is wrong. Whatever you say, the CEO of a multinational company cannot put on hold a meeting with a client to go breast-feed her baby. Nevertheless, we force that situation on her, and in the end, she loses. The company proudly parades her as a symbol of it being an equal opportunity employer. Her husband proudly parades her as proof that he is enlightened. However, deep inside the woman is dying because she is unable to fulfill the natural role that nature gave to her and only to her.
There is an inherent problem when the solution requires the oppressed to play in the opposition’s playground, according to the opposition’s rules. It is a recipe for failure. We teach, prod and push generation after generation of girls to compete with and beat men. Right there, in the beginning of the war we have lost it. What we need to teach them is to respect themselves, be confident about their own abilities and to be comfortable in their sexuality. If we can do this, it does not matter that they do not become leaders in the common sense of the word, because they will be leaders and contributors in any sphere they choose to work.
There can only be so many CEO or ministers or leaders. For every one woman who succeeds in a male bastion there are thousands still struggling under age-old curses and dying a million silent deaths.