Are we (women) the ones who need empowerment?
Dating back to thousands of years, women were given rights and freedom to give suggestions on political matters, learn the Vedas and other spiritual texts, acquire skills in martial arts etc. Yet, never was a woman considered an equal to a man though she proved to be better than a man at times. We had restrictions, curbed of our liberty to make use of our talents and most importantly we were not treated with humanity but as a mere creature with bones and flesh to cater the various needs of men. I am going to talk about how time changed men’s perspective on women in India through the ages and discuss if there had been any changes.
To start off with is Draupadi, a queen who was married to 5 men. Her groom was selected by means of an age old practice called Swayamvaram. Swayamvaram is a court gathering of young princes of various kingdoms to win the hand of the princess. In Draupadi’s Swayamvaram, a task of aiming and shooting the eye of a rotating fish by looking at its reflection on a barrel of oil would win her hand in marriage. She was not given the privilege of choosing her life partner. Yet she got the man whom she desired – Arjuna. Without considering her emotions, she was made the wife of the five brothers because anything brought into the family by any of the brothers was shared amongst them. Was this a fair act?
Being a newly wedded princess, Urmila (Sita’s sister) entered Ayodhya with a lot of dreams and hopes to begin a new chapter in her life without knowing what life had in-store for her. Soon she had to go through the spasms of fourteen long years of separation from her beloved – Lakshman who swore to protect and take care of his brother – Ram. He put his duty towards his brother ahead of any other calling of his. Urmila spent a huge chunk of her married life in a lonely palace, merely sleeping through the years that would have otherwise killed her. She must have been strangled by her loneliness as she didn’t have her sister as well to share her feelings with. When she woke up, fourteen years of her life were alien to her, as she helped her husband protect his brother by sleeping the sleep he needed as well. Were circumstances objective in her case?
How many of you know the story of Kaaraikal Ammaiyar? A staunch devotee of lord Shiva whose husband parted her for the very same reason. The story goes as follows. She had been given two mangoes by her husband, off which one was had been taken by the Lord himself who came in disguise. Later that day, her husband had the other. Having tasted the delicious Mango, he wanted more of it. Being a dutiful wife she couldn’t tell no to her husband and prayed to the Lord for a mango and got one as well. When her husband had it, the taste variation made him wonder the origin of this mango. When he enquired she confessed the truth to him. Being an atheist, he couldn’t accept her theory. He asked her to prove it to him by showing him a mango got as a result of her praying in front of him and she obliged. As requested she got the mango in front of her husband. He got it from her with amazement and he tried to eat it, when the fruit disappeared. Puzzled, he looked at his wife who clarified, he wanted to see the fruit and not taste it. After this incident he was not able to look at Kaaraikal Ammaiyar as his wife, which made him leave his house and marry another woman. On the other hand, Ammaiyar believed that he would return one day and waited for the day he would come back to her. But all that she heard from her friend was that her husband had married another woman somewhere else and lived a life of his own, leaving behind the woman who left behind her family and married him hoping to be taken care and loved by the same man.
Jhansi ki Rani – Rani Lakshmi Bai, a woman who brought fear to her enemies just by hearing her name, fought till her last breath trying to save her motherland and her kid. She fought the British trying to prevent the ill-fate that India went through. She failed in her struggle, yet she didn’t show her back and run from the city like a coward. Instead she put up a legendary battle by carrying her child on her back. She was stranded by her generals and was left alone fighting an army which had surrounded her. She died fighting for her motherland with pride. One against one is one of the primary rules of war in India, but she had to put up alone with many. Where did justice go back then?
These are just the few examples out of a million of even billion stories both known and unknown. The question is even after so many years, has there been any change? Yes, there has been. The treatment has got worse. From being treated inferior we are now treated as creatures to satisfy others’ needs. We are branded for who and what we are. We are being raped because the way we dress is arousing. Are these reasons and explanations justifiable?
Tolerating all these circumstances the society puts us in, we stand tall and proud of who we are and fight for our rightful position and identity. We cross tens and hundreds of hurdles everyday as a part of our struggle hoping that one day we would be heard out and respected for who we are. I conclude this article with the same hope.
Do WE need empowerment?