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Patriarchy persists and this mindset must change



By Archita Ranjan

Women have been facing discrimination since a long time. Discrimination means making unjustified distictions or biases based on race, caste, or gender. Since childhood we are taught that certain things are only meant for girls and others are just for boys. While young girls are given Barbie dolls and kitchen sets, boys are given toy cars or they play cricket. And unknowingly, we are creating these biases among young kids, without even knowing their interests and aspirations. They are imposed to be a certain way because of a preconceived  notion. 

Even when we go to a shop, we notice a divided section for males and females. The sections are coloured in pink for girls and blue for boys. This can be an example of people discrimination on the basis of colours. We also see this stereotypical behaviour while deciding what games are meant for men and women.Games like football and volleyball are just meant for males. 

Hence, there is a concern! 

Although women are achieving success in almost every field including science, sports, etc., why this discrimination by our society? 

Going back to the 19th century, when “The Suffrage Movement” in America took place, the women in the United States had to fight for their voting rights. Now the question arises, if men are inherently provided with these rights, then why do women have to fight for the same rights? The reason is a patriarchal society considers women as weak, incapable of making decisions and subordinate to men. 

Now coming to the provisions enshrined in our Constitution, Article 14 guarantees the Right to Equality, Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any caste, race, gender, sex or birth of place, and Article 21 guarantees the Right to life, personal liberty and live life with dignity. From these it can be inferred that women have fundamental as well as legal right to live with dignity. Despite these rights, there is still discrimination against women, say, at their workplaces. 

Before discussing this in detail, I first want to emphasise on the impact of stereotyping certain words in our legal language like  ‘a reasonable man’. Why don’t we use ‘a reasonable woman’ or just ‘a reasonable citizen or person’? Don’t these need to be changed? When we notice these small things in our daily life, we realise the discrimination a women faces. In reality, since historical times, society has been framed in a way that when it comes to language, sports, colours, rights, etc. men are superior to women. And this patriarchal mindset and stereotype behaviour need to change.

The wind of change is blowing. One of them is the judgment of the Babita Puniya case. In the case of “Ministry of Defence vs. Babita Puniya”, the Honourable Supreme Court decided in favour of permanent commission for women. Earlier, it was considered that women are “physically weak” and those who have to take maternity leave, or leave to take care of the family will therefore be not granted permanent commission. The question was raised that many women are in combat roles and they are still not granted the permanent commission. The  Supreme Court passed a decision that women posted in combat zones must be granted permanent commission and should be treated equally. The SC dismissed the ‘sex stereotype’ view that women are physically weaker than men.

Therefore, I would like to conclude by mentioning a quote from Simone De Beauvoir’s Book “The Second Sex”, in which she quoted, “One is not born, but rather becomes women”. “The child would not grasp himself as sexually differentiated”. No biological, physical or economic destiny defines the figure that the human female takes on in society; it is the civilisation as a whole that elaborated it. 

Therefore, the more the patriarchal mindset changes, the inequality between men and women will reduce.