I am a simple woman. I have often been blamed for having a rather simplistic view of life. and I have always wondered why that is not a compliment. why is it necessary to view things through a complicated lens of biases and preconceived notions? age-old beliefs do dictate our current behaviour, I agree. when technology can change our cognitive behaviour, I am sure we as a collective species have experienced corresponding conative and affective behavioural changes as well.
Yet, one daily comes across regressive and misogynistic statements. whether these statements are made by the Presidentâ€™s son or by high ranking officials of the opposition parties â€“ the utterances make the liberal minds bristle with anger. and the parochial wax more lyrical.
Economic growth may have a lot to do with the existing social structures. so where is India in all this – especially if we juxtapose its economics with parallel societal changes exemplified unarguably by the Delhi gang rape protests?
We all know that the economy of any society usually contains three basic sectors in which people fi nd themselves occupationally – the primary sector representing the patriarchal, agrarian society; the manufacturing sector which became the totem pole of the industrial revolution and the tertiary sector that represents the new services dependent information economy with a more egalitarian outlook. Movement across the sectors does not necessarily mean that the former way of existence has ceased. often, in fact, the former stage or stages are safe-guarded and their disappearance becomes a means of contention, as people fear they are losing their way of existence. this is what is happening in India as we are transitioning from primary to tertiary sector (both in the distribution of labour force as well as GDP). the senile leaders who made the regressive comments like â€œthe victim is to be blamed for the rape,â€ are precisely experiencing that fear.
In a research done by the key, for a global client on Masculinity, a few years ago, the male respondents covered across different age cohorts were asked to mention three tasks that women canâ€™t do as well as men and three that men canâ€™t do.
The responses were: tasks that a man can never do as well as a woman, universally echoed by all age cohorts, were cooking, child rearing and cleaning. tasks that a woman cannot do as well as a man turned out to be car or mobike racing and handling heavy equipment and machinery. all age cohorts found the third task diffi cult to agree on.
Menâ€™s confusion about their new roles stems from the fact that they are not being able to differentiate between the ability of a person and the role of a person. ability is biological and role is normative. In a world where a woman has taken on the traditionally normative male roles, men have no choice but to assert their eroding manliness by either emphasising on her biological limitations â€“ as we discovered in the study (in real life it could well be rape). or the other way, is to expand their role of protector to include restricting her appearance, her work, her social circle and not surprisingly even her religious leanings â€“ all in the name of protection.
It is time we redefi ned the role of a man in modern society. unless the new role is given a new channeling and a simultaneous legitimacy by society, he shall continue to interpret it in an agrarian context. Imagine if his role became that of Freudâ€™s ideal family man whose responsibility should be to make each member of the family â€œrealize their full potential to work and to love.â€
So let more outrageous statements be uttered freely. ladies, do not get affronted, as this indicates an inadvertent admission of feeling marginalised.