Gender & Mythology
The degradation of women has very popularly and regularly been connected to the religious practices as we know them today. You can find many examples in our discourses showing us how the Hindu religious rights treat women as the “other sex” or the “weaker sex”, but these examples are in themselves myopic and misinformed. The number one rule of any analysis of the society is that there are no blanket statements, there are no binaries. It is but only natural to look at the things and concepts around us with the lens of religion and culture, at least and especially in India. For example, in the Hindu cultural texts, you will find that although women were created by God, whilst doing so he/she/them, created her with the aims of embodying “gentler emotions”. This gentle emotion ingredient by itself has no ideological issues, but over the years it has been interpreted by people (usually they are men in-charge of religious propagations) to mean “weak”.
The aspects of differentiation, which were by no means discrimination in the text, have now become tools for subjugation of women to a lower power position in the society. This has been done by means of practices that try to trace their justification in religion such as the impurity of women during menstruation. But, if you look at the core values of any religion in the world, not just in India, they all seem to indicate towards a trend of living with togetherness and peace. It is the foul interpretation of men over the years and decades for their personal gains that has given the word “religion” a bad taste in our mouths when we look at it from the perspective of women’s station in society.
The aim of this text is to make you look at the fact that patriarchy and its practices have come up through this misinterpretation of religious practices, in reaction to which feminism stands, thus by this logic, both the religion in its pure form and feminism stand against the same enemy: Patriarchy. Feminism is not against religion but its misappropriated norms in the form of patriarchy.
Patriarchy in its very concept, from hundreds of years, has taken the liberty to define women as something lower than men. And this liberty has cost women their dignity, their confidence and even their lives. I say this because patriarchy is not only a system where males are heads of their families, but it is a system of cruelty and misbehavior against varied categorizations of humans; it is more to do with retention of power of the upper class/caste male, than any other virtue. Patriarchy with religion has led us to believe in gender-specific roles, which has led blockages of opportunity for women as well and people who identify themselves as anything else other than “male”. And all this is just because of the misinformation, misinterpretation and misappropriation of religious knowledge which is eventually leading to target women and feminism in today’s time.
Even today, I do hear my grandmother (a woman herself) saying, “if men and women were supposed to be same, God would have made us same”, but don’t you think, God has made us the same, by giving us the same amount of brain, with the same capacity to learn and understand and with the same set of senses because isn’t it all that matters?
I think we all have believed in the concept of feminism even before we knew the word, in the form of equality, the only reason we went on to coin another name for it was because we realized that the present guiding force of religion and culture in our society is no longer capable of providing a level playing field for all genders, for a simple reason that it has been polluted, just like how there are attempts to pollute feminism now. In the end, just to clear the air by saying, I am a religious person and also a feminist because no God in my religion stops me from speaking loudly or sitting with my legs wide open. Neither my God asks me to cover my face with a dupatta nor do He/She /they stop me from wearing short clothes. My God just asks me to live, for humanity.