by Hurmat Altaf
Freedom of a woman naturally posed a threat to the patriarchal set-up, which has been running for ages. So, patriarchy also evolved or attained new modes and forms.
Why do we celebrate women’s day with great fervour and not men’s day with the same intensity? It is because we are the ones who face identity crises and ‘othering’ in a male-dominated society and in order to give us recognition in a true sense there is a need to celebrate a day like this where we can help ourselves to come out of the illusion and confront the reality?
Time has changed. We have evolved but there still remain some things, which never change, things, which remain constant, static almost, every time. The same goes for a woman being called the ‘second sex’.
Capitalism and patriarchy have been the biggest threat to women’s identity and freedom. In the capitalist world order, women face double alienation; first in the form of their gender as they are mostly considered to be subordinate to men and second in the form of their individuality as they have to acquire dual identities in a capitalist society. They cannot be or act as inherently good. If they did, then everyone will take advantage of them as it is a society where one gains reward at the expense of others. So, a woman has to necessarily take refuge in her alter ego because to be good she has to be cruel.
Patriarchy has ever since been the biggest menace to women’s prosperity. In older times, a patriarchal society was such where a woman was merely kept in a cage, was confined within the four walls of her house and was taught to act as a mute spectator and endure in every situation at the cost of her very own self.
But later on, due to the advent of various feminist movements, these modes of patriarchy to some extent came to an end. Women began to break the chains of patriarchy and thus released themselves from every orthodox convention, which a patriarchal society had imposed upon them.
Women became independent and at the very same time empowered. Freedom of a woman naturally posed a threat to the patriarchal set-up, which has been running for ages. So, patriarchy also evolved or attained new modes and forms. In the patriarchal system women are always kept an illusion. They are being told that they undoubtedly hold a higher position than men do but still are being dehumanized in various ways. Be it in the form of portraying a quite misogynistic image of them or any other.
To begin with the portrayal of women in various works of art, we might have observed that there is a quite sexist representation of a woman or more appropriately women are being objectified. A simple example is of a woman in a work of art who falls in love with a married man and that man also falls in love with her but doesn’t reveal the truth of his marriage in front of her. His wife is shown as an ideal form of a woman and this other woman is shown as bold in terms of her appearance and other stuff.
It is done in order to set her as a foil to that ideal one and not only that but also to show that man as an innocent being because this woman tempted him to keep an affair. After taking all the favours from her he leaves her behind because he is made to realize that she is a wicked woman and can’t match the status of his wife and thus it is being portrayed how he was always an innocent being and was never at fault.
His wife is shown as the prototypical example of a woman caught up in a patriarchal set-up where she puts the blame on that woman rather than her own husband. It is because of the feminine mystiques which are being infused in her. So, this is how they ruin young minds.
Furthermore, songs of the day are also another form of misogyny. We might have observed the lyrics of the modern songs dehumanize or use women as an object in various ways. Like picturising women as pleading with men for various material things and then men replying that he is not going to get anything for her. Also, they use women’s bodies as a commodity.
Moreover, crimes against women have also evolved. If a woman says no to any man, it hurts his ego and thus, he ruins her life by throwing acid on her face. And it’s not in veil anymore we ourselves have observed a spike in such cases.
So, this is how a patriarchal setup can never come to an end and pseudo-feminism is going to take us nowhere. There is a need to take a pledge in a real sense and in actuality fight for our rights. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley has said:
“Women are everywhere in this deplorable state; for in order to preserve their innocence, as ignorance is courteously termed, truth is hidden from them, and they are made to assume an artificial character before their faculties have acquired any strength. Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming around its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison…”
(The author is pursuing BA honours in English from Cluster University; Srinagar. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Kashmir Life.)