When I went for a morning walk the other day, a very interesting sight arrested my attention. A group of flower vendor women were sitting under a street lamp and playing cards. Some of them we smoking beedies and they speaking loudly, using swear words and cracking dirty jokes. Are these the women whose rights we are fighting for? Come to think of it, what kind of women are we branding as the oppressed in our country? There is one section that is anything but repressed! These are the socialities who have rich husbands off on business jaunts most of the time. So, the wives indulge themselves, visiting beauty parlours, shopping in boutiques, watching video films and having kitty parties. Their life is one of leisure and pleasure and one can only envy them!
The middle class woman is very concerned about her family – spends her time making both ends meet, balancing budgets, teaching her children, pleasing her in-laws and living respectably. She is the one who brings sanity to the society. She forms the majority and also treads the beaten path with no aspirations to name or fame. She is made of stuff that can endure and wants no crusader to press her cause. But the rich and famous brand them as ‘middle class’ in a derogatory manner!!
The working woman – she is found in all tiers. There is a kind who works only because she has to, to supplement the family income. Day in and day out, her life is lived to clockwork precision, with little excitement except for office politics, variable DA and annual increments. She has a fairly co-operative husband who takes over reaching ‘baba’ to school or even part of the cooking. She gets along well with her male colleagues and even flirts with some! She is by and large happy with herself and does not seek any sympathy.
The woman executive is a newly emerging phenomenon. She is as tough as her male counter parts and can bulldoze anyone or anything that comes in her way. Dare you whisper about oppression to her! Among these, you find the single women who rent apartments and fly to Europe for a holiday and throw weekend parties to a group of friends both male and female. They are the upwardly mobile professionals – a law unto themselves!
We can’t overlook the battered and bruised woman who is exploited by her in-laws, shunned by her parents and doomed to misery. Yes, these women do need help – from themselves. They are not oppressed by anything other than their own weakness, their apathy and their acceptance of their fate. It’s a pity that they continue to be what they are, despite so many examples around to emulate.
Women are endowed with marvelous qualities by nature – like tenacity, capacity to bear physical pain, basic integrity and compassion. With a combination of these, what we can’t achieve is a reflection of our own short comings. Let us rise and shine – we can do it.