Tag: freedom

The Poison called Patriarchy

When we come across a successful girl,  we applaud her family for being supportive of her. We appreciate that they have encouraged her to make independent career choices. They do not distinguish between sons and daughters and have provided her the required cultural capital to reach where she is today. But in an intrinsically patriarchal upper caste middle class Hindu family, how ‘free’ are her choices?

On one hand, she battles the society; its prejudices, misogyny, glass ceilings and conservatism. But on the other hand, behind closed doors goes on another strife that nobody knows about. It is the constant struggle between her and the patriarch- her father in most cases. The independent girl on the verge of womanhood is enthusiastic, passionate and wants to explore infinite opportunities. She is unafraid of making unconventional career choices. Marriage is her least priority. Yes, she is growing older, but she wants to devote adequate time to attaining her education and securing employment. Hence, for her, settling down does not imply getting married and giving birth to a child but establishing a career and achieving economic independence.

However, the fault lines begin to surface within the family. As the daughter grows up, the father begins to behave more like a patriarch. In this capacity, he has made many personal sacrifices for the family. He expects the same in return from the ‘ideal’ daughter. If he does not have an elder son, he begins to search for a successor and inheritor in her. He is in his fifties or sixties and wants her to shoulder the responsibility of the family soon. Her individual aspirations are thus often not palatable to him. He wants her to establish her career quickly so that he can marry her off soon. He is not against her ambitions but wants her to align them to the needs of the family, just as he did.

The patriarch encourages but restricts; supports but controls. He sets free but the strings are tied firmly to his fingers. The entire notion of a girl’s independence thus seems illusory. Her choices are seldom free. Time and again, she is reminded of her obligations towards her family. She does not have the freedom to decide her own life partner because the honour of the family is at stake and the norms of caste endogamy are to be taken care of. She must not delay her marriage too much or the best ones (read the richest) might be gone. Her Ph. D. or job can obviously continue after marriage also, at least for the sake of persuasion.

The patriarch, now tired of running the family since decades, longs to retire from his responsibilities at the earliest. The biggest liability to be done away with is naturally an unmarried daughter. He wants her to finish her studies early so that she can start contributing towards the family income. In the process, she can also pool some money for her own marriage and the education of her younger siblings.

The role of the mother is now reduced to that of a mediator. She has no say in any decisions in the family. She is stationed between the patriarch and his daughter who are both adamant. She is the one who negotiates, but her role ends at that. The father, now assuming the role of the patriarch is now distanced from his daughter. They no longer share the loving relationship they did when she was younger. The onus is upon the mother to convey his diktats to her daughter and convince her to acquiesce. She is often placed in an awkward situation when she has to inform the patriarch of their daughter’s resolve to stay firm on her decisions. She is the worst affected in the tussle. She can neither side with one nor abandon the other. She must remain loyal to her husband because he feeds her. On the other hand, she does not want her daughter to lead a captivated life as she did.

As the daughter overcomes one hurdle after the other, she feels victorious to have challenged the stereotypes of the society. She considers herself to be a rebel and wants to set an example for other girls to emulate. But the fact remains that she is able to wage a war against the society but not against her own family. She is confined by the family values she herself clung to since childhood. She is torn between her dreams and the expectations of her family which are actually those of the patriarch.

The victims of patriarchy are never women alone. The mother is helpless and cannot let her daughter lead the life of her dreams no matter how much she wishes. The daughter obviously is subjected to restrictions and control since forever, none being slackened even after she grows old enough to decide for herself. Amidst this, the patriarch also suffers as he constantly swings to and fro from this role to that of the father. Even if he wants his daughter to be happy, he is also tied to his authoritarian position. He cannot grant her any more agency over her own life than to live it as per his rules; rather those set by the society. He must reinforce his supremacy by regularly exerting power and control, even if it implies throttling the dreams and aspirations of his daughter.

Patriarchy finds its way from religion to society and finally to the family. It has ruined more careers than poor results or other unforeseen circumstances have. When we dismiss allegations of gender discrimination by casual remarks like “Things have changed now, we have daughters and we have given them freedom to study and choose their career.” the sexism is quite apparent. Why does freedom need to be ‘given’ to daughters when sons enjoy it as a birth right? Can their choices be free if they are always forced to put their family before themselves? Patriarchy fails to answer these questions. Empowerment is possible only when women acquire complete agency over their lives. Gender equality must be fostered in the family before it can become the norm of the society; it has to begin from the home. Nevertheless, the minds of men ought to be decolonized from the tyrannical regime of patriarchy for gender equality to become a reality.

Parasitism in humans?

Parasitism may be an entirely biological phenomenon peculiar to certain species, but why can’t it be said that it is found among humans as well? Not biologically but socially we are parasites.

We depend upon the machines we ourselves invented. We are handicapped without the internet unheard of until 26 years ago.

Humans created smartphones; smartphones created dumb humans.

We cannot spend a day without checking our social network or updating our fake, exaggerated and masquerading identity on our social profiles. We cannot while away time unless messages keep pouring from various contacts and groups. We cannot consider ourselves worthy unless we have a thousand virtual friends we need not have met in person.

We are dependent upon fashion for making our choices. We rely on celebrities to select what occupies our wardrobe. Without cosmetics, we cannot enrich our external beauty. Without material possessions, we cannot build our self-esteem. We cannot celebrate birthdays devoid of cakes and parties. Without flaunting all these, we cannot conform to societal norms.

We bank upon the society’s approval for choosing our actions, behaviours, careers and life partners. We eschew anything that shall attract the indignation of the society we stay in. We feed upon our own conscience to nourish our desire for being included in a society whose rules were framed aeons ago.

We breed upon anger, envy and lies. We prosper in the adversity of the other. We thrive in the decline and misery of others. We flourish when we are appreciated more than others and perish when we are outdone by them. We take huge strides trampling others on our way.

Not only are we parasites, but also we are gradually turning into slaves. We are slaves of the phone that maddens us with anxiety if it does not buzz every ten minutes. The internet which brings the world to our fingertips and thereby deactivates the thinking faculties of the mind. The likes and comments on our pictures which judge the identity that never belonged to us. The gifts we exchanged and the money we made which determine our status and position in the society. We are enslaved to our own greed, anger, desperation and desires.

The only way to end this bondage is to love oneself. It is important to be true to oneself and there is nothing to be ashamed of being what one is. No possessions except truth, love, hope, compassion and conviction are invaluable.

Let us rise above these trivialities and embrace the truth of life which lies not in things but in living itself; fighting battles each day and evolving into an independent, sensitive and sensible individual. Nobody but we can emancipate ourselves from the shackles that bind us to the negativity we want to refrain from. Remember, life is a circus and you are your own ringmaster.

Live for yourself. Live free!

livefree

I dissent, therefore I am

When pedestals are misused
Power is abused
When minorities are marginalized
When rebels are ostracized

When I am not considered a compatriot
When a government infringes upon my food right
When draconian laws continue to terrorize
When my caste determines my might

When three countries claim over my state
When nobody cares what residents want
When terrorists and soldiers ruin us the same
Day or night, the fear of death does haunt

When protest is sedition
When consent is the condition
When disagreement is criticized
When dissent is criminalized

When my freedom remains enshrined in a constitution
When I am denied the right to practise it
When I demand what I am entitled to
I am tortured so that I quit

When activism is blasphemous
When compliance is the norm
I am not a mere gush of wind
I will wreak havoc like a storm

I don’t know if I am national
Or if I belong to this nation at all
I don’t know if I am patriot
If I don’t bow to it or extol

But I know I am being alienated
I know I am being demonized
My differences being disregarded
I know I am being dehumanized

I realize, therefore I am
I question, therefore I am
I dissent, therefore I am
I condemn, therefore I am

I agitate, therefore I am
I retaliate, therefore I am
I mobilize, therefore I am
I revolutionize, therefore I am!

Beef-sessed

I belong to a country where the government also decides and denies food rights of its citizens. It could raid your refrigerator to find beef, or worse, lynch you to death on mere suspicion of you having consumed it. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Pathetic, more so.

Probably even Fascist or Nazi regimes never dictated diets. There is a twist in the tale, because only consumption of flesh of a cow is problematic. This country is one of paradoxes. Here, Hindus worship cows as their mothers, but do all of them respect their own mothers or women in the household?

Certain groups of people argue that others must therefore not consume beef as it hurts their religious sentiments. However, their sentiments are not hurt if pork or buffalo meat is consumed.

If killing one particular animal hurts religious sentiments of some people, why does the killing of pigs, buffaloes, chickens, fish, etc. not incite the same fury within them? Where is secularism gone in the country? Will it ever become a part of the lives of people or only rust away in one line of the preamble of the constitution?

Where does this hypocrisy end? Does any particular majoritarian religion have the right to forbid other minorities from practising their own beliefs? It is not about tolerance or intolerance, it is about acceptance. We all have the right to hold beliefs and practise our own religion. But we do not have the right to curtail the freedom of others.

The government has no right to determine food rights of people. Followers of one religion cannot dictate laws for followers of other religions.

Are we really a free country if our government interferes into our personal lives? Are the colonial days back? Are we inhabiting a secular, democratic country or a Hindu left-wing country?

If we really need a ban, it has to be on the colonial attitudes of the government. Today. democracy in India continues to be in grave peril. Unless we profess equal freedom, democracy and rights for all, we cannot be a free nation in the true sense.

I support the right to food without restrictions. Do you?