Saturday, 17 May 2008

Equality or Sexuality?

For some time now I have been struggling to figure out what is the perception that today’s society (read “men”) holds of a modern woman. Are we really deemed to be equals, have the freedom and respect we seek and can we really expect to be judged based on our abilities and capabilities? Might not be a simple answer but I believe it is worth exploring.

This entire thought process was agitated by a speech made by the Italian premier, Mr. Berlusconi. In an election campaign he emphasized that the opposition had poor taste and what he could not tolerate was that this poor taste extended to their women politicians. Is that really the first port of call to judge a woman! The entire speech degraded women and I think the only member of the fairer sex that was spared was his mother. I wonder what gold dust is she powdered with! And how could the Italians re-elect a man with such shallow thoughts!

However, I need not go far. My own city of London has innumerable examples where women have been faced with unfair treatment and those responsible are still in their positions of power. Numerous studies conducted over the years have illustrated that in general women bankers tend to be lower paid than their male counterparts. Sexual harassment cases filed by women in the city are not on a decline by any stretch of imagination. Career post motherhood is not whole heartedly supported by some employers. And this is in a city which is supposed to be a congregation of some of the more educated, cultured and well aware professionals globally!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not an activist for feminine rights. In fact I think that there are certain laws and regulations that support women unjustifiably. Take the 30% reservation for women in India. This ranges from places being reserved in engineering colleges to politics to public sector jobs. In my view this reservation is unfair to men. If women want to study and build a career for themselves then they should have confidence in themselves. They should fight their battles and attain their goals on merit, not because of gender discrimination and not at the cost of another more deserving candidate.

While I might say this the sad reality is that even if women want to be recognized for their mettle, men thrive in the drive of their hormones. I have been faced with situations in my professional life where men have made absolutely unwarranted advances. On most occasions these have been clients and hence I have maintained my dignity and not said anything in public. However, in one instance I had to report the incident to my employer. A client asked for my mobile number on the pretext of setting up a subsequent meeting. As soon as I left his office, I had a text message asking me out to dinner. I politely declined. However, I was pushed to the extent of being asked if I was free “later tonight”? This message did not get a response from me. So it was followed by 6 phone calls. And please note that the man in question is a married man. If you want to pay a compliment say it graciously. If you want to fish be subtle. However, men seem to think that they need not act with caution as they can get away with anything, in some cases even sexually abusing girls who are not even adults!

Are women really just eye candies and sex objects? Is that all men think of and need? Do they never think of women as individuals? Are women not living beings with feelings and emotions that need affection? Can men not see that women take all this crap from their species and still are loving mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, girl friends etc?

People say women do not know what they want. In my opinion we know what we want. We want to be respected. To be genuinely treated as equals. To be applauded for our achievements and loved for who we are. The day that “society” achieves this, the status of the modern woman will truly be uplifted. That is when women will truly become free!


Pankaj Singh said...

Although there is still a long way to go…shouldn’t we also acknowledge and celebrate the progress that women in our society have made since the past 60 years.

Aren’t you being a bit too harsh on men by implying that they are responsible for everything ? :)

Tanushree Bagrodia said...

While women have got more opportunities in the last few years, it has been confined to those in the urban areas. While these women have been given opportunities, they have also been forced to take to aggression and force if they need to survive in the man's world. I am not being harsh on men. Just asking them for a little bit of respect.

Pankaj, you are an exception in this world of men. Keep it that way!