Women Empowerment Starts with Men
It is one thing to talk about gender equality and another thing to practice it sincerely in your own life. I have encountered many well-educated men who have favorable opinions about gender equality and women empowerment. However, these liberal feelings are often just skin-deep and wear off quickly when it comes to ‘walk the talk’ in their personal lives. Most of them, subconsciously, fear to lose the upper hand they have been traditionally enjoying over their female counterparts. This needs to be dealt with squarely to get true support of men in this noble movement that is beneficial for the society as a whole.
True equality can be achieved only through unconditional acceptance of the fact that men and women are equal as human beings and differentiating them on the basis of their gender is utterly nonsensical. Unless men understand and accept this basic fact, all their support is just a façade.
In today’s article, I am going to throw some light on the importance of men in empowering women in the society and why their heartfelt support can truly uplift the spirit of women and help them acquire their much-deserved, equal and respected position in the society.
The age-old tradition of gender inequality
In the earlier stages of human evolution, the main source of food was hunting. For this, the physical strength of the male gender naturally bestowed him with an upper hand over his female counterpart. It is no wonder that physical prowess and aggressiveness was much respected.
Also, Mother Nature has placed the responsibility of bearing a child on the woman’s reliable shoulders; she had to take the responsibility of performing duties like child-raising, and other domestic work – while her man was running behind deer and boars in the woods, to bring food to their plates.
This gave men a natural advantage over women and consequently a superior position in the society at large. Being more gentle, passive and accepting by nature, women accepted a more subdued and secondary position in this male-dominated social set-up.
Our ancient texts and historical literature is full of pieces of evidence of male dominance and female oppression. We have often heard the term ‘Pati-parmeshwar’? In the epic Ramayana, it is Sita who had to face the fire-test called Agnipariksha, why not Rama? In Mahabharata, Pandavas offered their wife Draupadi as a bet in the game of Dyuta, as if she was an object or commodity in their possession.
What can be more insulting than that for a woman? And don’t forget that these women were the queens or princesses in their times. If they were treated like that, what to say about the common women of our times?
So, whose fault is it after all?
Should we blame men for this unequal social arrangement where men enjoy definite advantages over women? Or should we blame women who meekly accepted the male dominance?
You see, men are hormonally different than females. Testosterone not only makes them more muscular but also more aggressive. They are hardwired to think, feel and behave the way they do. Their physiology – as well as psychology – makes them the way they are, i.e., more dominant and aggressive.
Also, it is difficult for them to truly understand what a woman goes through when she has to face inequality and harassment in her day-to-day life due to gender bias. They never have a firsthand experience of the physical and mental torture she faces. Unless a man is sensitive enough to empathize with a woman’s plight, it is difficult for him to know what it is like to live as a woman in a world full of gender-based discrimination. I totally understand this and don’t really blame them for it.
In that sense, men are not the culprit. In fact, they are also as much a victim of this whole gender biased mentality as we women ourselves are. Just as we have – or at least, many of us have – accepted the superiority of men without any question, most of these men are also been spoon-fed the prejudice against women and their superiority over them from their childhood by their parents, relatives, teachers, peers and the society as a whole.
Why support from men is so important for women empowerment
Our society is made of two basic elements, men and women. They are the two wings of a bird; without one, the bird cannot reach new heights. They are co-dependent and complement each other to help society function properly and evolve towards a better future. In order to make the social structure work smoothly, it is important that both these elements are happy. Even if one of them is ignored, oppressed or weakened, the whole society will have to suffer the consequences of the imbalance.
At present, our society is majorly male-dominated, support from men will have a huge impact on the women empowerment movement and bring about the change towards equality much more rapidly. If the oppressing element itself (in this case men, who knowingly or unknowingly been enjoying a superior position over their female counterparts) accepts the freedom and equality of the oppressed element, the very root of the problem is effectively resolved.
Whether it is a husband who lends a helping hand to his wife in doing the household chores or a co-worker who stops his male colleagues from passing derogatory comments towards a female co-worker or a father who wholeheartedly appreciates his daughter and let her be free from the social stereotyping; the effect is evident and invariably boosts the morale of the woman in question. It sends a strong message to the other men who are (or pretend to be) oblivious about these issues. If enough men will come in support for women in distress, the rest of the society will have no other choice but to take notice and mend its demeaning and disrespectful ways of treating women.
Support and encouragement from men themselves will go a long way in making the world less gender biased and more balanced and happier.
Men of Modern Times
One of the very first things men should understand is that empowering women will not only make the lives of women better but will also make their own lives happier as they can break the ceiling of male stereotyping.
A man is a woman’s best friend and vice versa – at least that’s how it should be. But this can happen only if they work together to make each other’s lives a little better. Men can contribute in many ways to help eradicate gender discrimination and uplift the status of women in society. And this change begins with the change in their mindset.
With the changing times, many age-old social beliefs and prejudices are being tested for their validity and appropriateness. Gender inequality is one of the most prominent of issues among them that is a subject of hot debates among people. The suppression and exploitation of women are no longer acceptable, justifiable or tolerable.
What is more noteworthy is that not only women but many men are also coming out in support of this important change. Some are actively participating with social groups or organizations that work for women’s personal safety and empowerment. Many strongly put forth their opinions when they see a woman being socially harassed or traumatized – this includes men from politics, media, the entertainment industry as well as common people.
There are men from every social level or profession who sincerely want to help women get their due rights and place in the society on par with their male counterparts. Be it the home or the workplace, these men are not shy of raising their voice in support of their female family members or co-workers. They are openly supporting women who want equal opportunities for education or work, equal wages, and a safer and more secure social life for themselves.
In conclusion, if men will take an active part in helping women achieve their due place in society, that change will bring more peace, joy, and satisfaction in their own lives as well. An empowered woman will be a happier and more companionable partner to them. This is a truly welcome sign and will certainly go a long way in bringing more balance, equality, and fairness in the society.