Sexism, misogyny, and prejudice against women


This post is going to be a relatively long reflection against all the sexism, misogyny, and male supremacy prevalent in our society today.
A wife stays back at home while her husband goes to work to earn a living for the house. The husband works at the office while the wife stays back making and keeping the house up and running. She is happy doing that.

Another scenario is that a wife and her husband both go to the office. The wife gets pregnant and discontinues her work while her husband continues his usual office routine. The wife would remain out of the office for several months and in many cases, by her own will, never going back to work again.

In both the above scenarios, the wife can be happy doing that. And there is absolutely nothing wrong in that either. But, for a moment, picture the opposite scenario. The wife gives birth to a child and the husband goes on an extended paternity leave feeding the child from the bottle full of mother’s breast milk. The husband in this situation should be equally willing and happy as the wife would have been staying back in the house taking care of the baby, no?
The parents are worried for their daughter who is already 30 and not married. They fear she might not get any suitable matches.

The parents are tiny-miny worried about their son who is 30 and not married. But they are okay with that, at least for a few more years. They don’t yet fear that their son might not get any suitable matches.
The husband once in a blue moon hits his wife. And he profusely apologizes after that. He is truly and deeply sorry for his actions. He knows that he made a mistake. The wife forgives him only to find herself in a situation a few years later when the episode gets repeated. She swallows her anger and “forgives” her husband after he profusely and sincerely apologizes, yet again. She doesn’t want to break her marriage. She is concerned about her daughter, her family, and what the society would think of them.
A husband forces himself on the wife assuming that it is his right to do so being her husband. The woman wants to resist but doesn’t because in her head, this is possibly normal.
A wife cooks all the food while the husband sits in the drawing room talking to the guests and keeping them entertained. The wife doesn’t find anything wrong in it since she saw her mother doing the exact same thing. She doesn’t resist this setup and has not a shred of doubt in her head that this is normal.
A wife picks up all the utensils after she and her husband are done eating dinner. She saw her mother, aunties, and her grandmother doing the same. And, of course, they can’t all possibly be wrong. She accepts this and continues picking up and cleaning the utensils every night after dinner.
The parents have a son and a daughter. The son wants to go abroad for further education. The parents are happy and they will try their best to afford that education for their son. A few years later their daughter wants to do the same. This time the parents hesitate a bit. They do want to support their daughter as well but they are not as confident about it. “She’ll turn 30 by the time she is done with her education. She might also get over qualified to be able to find a suitable groom later. ” is what they might ponder upon amongst other things.
There are so many other examples that I can write in this already lengthy post. There is nothing that most of us reading this don’t already know in their conscious or subconscious mind. It is sexist if you give any kind of preferential treatment to your son as against your daughter. It is wrong to expect your wife to do all the household chores while you “earn a living” for the house. It is wrong to expect your wife to give up on her career while you go on to achieve “big things” professionally banking on your wife to support you throughout and be content with your professional success when in fact she might have wanted to do all those things for herself as well. It is sexist if you don’t help clean up the dining table after you are done eating food. It is a crime if you think that your wife is your property with whom you can “make love” to anytime you want. It is sexist if you assume that all women are bad drivers. It is a crime if you pay your male employee more than your female employee for the same position. It is wrong if you boast about not knowing how to cook food but expect your wife to be a great cook. These are just a few cases in point that are simply unacceptable but our society more often than not accepts without questions. And if you do question, you risk being considered a social outcast.

This patriarchy is not just limited to India (although, I’ll argue that it is more pervasive in India). And if you consider domestic violence as well, you can find several examples in the so-called socially developed western and European nations. Shakira, Madonna, Rihanna, Marilyn Monroe, Halle Berry and so many others were victims of domestic violence. And while I am not arguing that it is only the women who suffer in all such cases because there are examples of men being mentally and physically abused as well, the stats show that women are the overwhelming majority who are at the receiving end of such extremities of domestic violence.

I believe that in most cases all the subconscious biases start developing from an early age. The society that you grow up in, observing how women and men get treated leaves a deep impression in your mind. That said, I do also believe that as one grows up, they can change their thought process and alter their subconscious by reading more, keeping an open and flexible mind, and just applying more common sense (which I understand is hard for some people). There is an Indian movie called “Thappad” where a woman files for a divorce when her husband “just slaps” her at a party. In the moment of that one slap she realizes all the things that were not right in her married life and how blindly and happily she was ignoring that. I am not going to spoil the movie for anyone. The movie is streaming on Amazon Prime and I would urge everyone to watch it. I don’t think that there is anything shown in the movie that we do not already know but it might serve as a good reminder to both the women and the men about what they ignore as being normal when, in fact, the real normal couldn’t be far from it.

If you are here I am glad that you read the entire post. I will end this with a quote from an American actor, John Wayne. He said, and I quote:

“Women have the right to work wherever they want, as long as they have the dinner ready when you get home.”

That, my friend, is the crux of the problem we are still facing today and unless everyone doesn’t take a stand in their own personal lives, acknowledge the prejudice and the wrongs against the women, and make a sincere effort to fix it, nothing will change.

quote by Alix Kates Shulman

Figure 1. A quote by Alix Kates Shulman