The most important thing in life is life itself


There are two kinds of society and women are treated differently in each one.

Individualistic

Women have a lot more freedom, relatively speaking. Like men, they go out and live on their own after 16. They are taught to earn a living on their own at a younger age. They go out and have fun and do the things any individual is supposed to at a given age. They are not reprimanded by their parents for doing something that is part of a natural human process. Sex, for instance. Majority of them choose who they get married to, when they get married and if they want to get married at all.

Collective

Women do not have lot of freedom. They are dependent on their parents for a long, long time. Marriage is the only safer event that would have the parents let women off the hook. The hook of inducing guilt that they are their parents’ burden. The trap that marriage is the only option to get out of the hellishness of living with parents. They are brought up to believe that sex is evil and flirting is bad. They are conditioned to protect themselves and save up for this one sacred individual. They are sternly discouraged and ill-treated for doing anything that is part of a natural human urge. Sex, for instance. A very small minority choose who they get married to, when they get married and if they want to get married at all.

For an individualistic society, I can replace the word “women” with “men” and they would all be true.

Hold that thought.

Now, it is also true that if I replace “women” with “men” most of it would be true in case of a collective society as well. Like India. Men are not viewed as a burden the same way women are, but they are expected to get a job and prove their worth as soon as they are out of college. Sometimes even sooner. Their major goal is to provide for the family – parents, later wife and kids.

A sex-deprived, controlled man taps a random woman’s ass just like a fun-deprived, controlled woman mistreats men. Men go out so they abuse women. Women are indoors so they abuse men, women and children. No one is more wrong than the other. I’m generalizing and obviously there are many exceptions on both sides. But sadly this is the norm.

கண்கள் இரண்டினில் ஒன்றைக் – குத்திக்
காட்சி கெடுத்திட லாமோ?
பெண்க ளறிவை வளர்த்தால் – வையம்
பேதைமை யற்றிடுங் காணீர்.

That’s from Mahakavi Bharathi.

What good is it to look at the world with one eye blinded?
If women can be, the world will be enlightened too.

Both women and men have it bad in India. That’s a fact. It’s not fair to argue that one has a better life than the other. For every case of a woman being abused, there is probably a man ill treated too and the cycle keeps going.

வீட்டிலுள்ள பழக்கமே நாட்டி லுண்டாம்
வீட்டினிலே தனக்கடிமை பிறராம் என்பான்;
நாட்டினிலே
நாடோ றும் முயன்றிடுவான் நலிந்து சாவான்;
காட்டிலுள்ள பறவைகள் போல் வாழ்வோம்,அப்பா!

Everything starts at home. May be I think so because I’m a parent now. May be it’s over simplifying. Any relationship has give and take. No returns, no gains. But compromises are made and adjustments are done out of one basic emotion. Love.

The truth is parenting is a business in India. Even though there is love, it is overshadowed by the drudgery of life. Population and poverty do not let an average Indian worker to NOT see kids as an investment. After all, they pour their blood and sweat in raising the kids and ensuring a comfortable and safe life, it’s only human to expect something in return.

Population and poverty are not going to change overnight. Which means the solution is a change in attitude. A shift in values and parenting. A lesson in individualism and integrity. Parents are supposed to be there for kids and make sure they are on a path to achieve their full potential. It is not ok to insist that a boy learns how to fend for his family as if that is his only job. Just like how it is not ok to teach a girl how to be a good wife or mom and nothing else. Kids learn that all by themselves by looking at the parents. What is important is to teach that life should be spent being happy, doing what you love and giving it your 200%. And showing them how it’s done.

Everything else is an option: Marriage, kids, family.

It’s nice to dream of that world even though it seems so far fetched.

 

 

P.S: For IHM’s questionIf Indian society saw marriage as an option, and not as the only goal in a woman’s life, do you think some of our social problems (like female feticide, dowry, domestic violence or fear of social stigma in case of sexual crimes) might become easier to deal with?”

My answer is: Yes! Marriage should only be an option. For women as well as men. But rather than the society, it is the parents who should see it as an option and respect their kids’ choices in spite of what others (society) think. The society will automatically follow.

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3 thoughts on “The most important thing in life is life itself

  1. While I agree with most of what you have written, when it comes to marriages, women (a majority of) have absolutley no choice. The parents have to ‘bribe’ the husband’s family with dowry to get them married, if they are widowed or divorced, marriage is still tougher. They are often married very young, often still as teenagers. They have to relocate and change everything including their names to ‘adjust’ into a family they never chose to live with. Their birth is generally not welcomed because of the burden of getting them married by the parents. They are also blamed for giving birth to girl babies.

    The same system ensures that male babies are welcomed as bread winners and as providers of wealth (includes dowry) and care givers (daughters in law) in the parents’ old age, they are valued (even if the reasons are selfish), they are fed well and their health and life is a priority. Parents are relaxed while raising them because they don’t need to pay a dowry, or worry about their safety, security and happiness in their marital homes. Parents don’t mind spending on their education. So the present system of marriage I feel is biased in favour of male babies.

  2. True. Agree with you. The current system of marriage is totally flawed.
    It is occupational hazard that I am on women’s side on a major scale when it comes to problems in society. But as a writer I try to look at all sides.

    My main message was that for future generations, today’s parents should ensure they bring up their son and daughter in a way that places importance to doing what they love and living life. Molding them neither into breadwinners nor caregivers, but individuals.

  3. “..in a way that places importance to doing what they love and living life. Molding them neither into breadwinners nor caregivers, but individuals.”

    Love how you put it! Totally agree.

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