Sat, 17 Apr, 2021

Females: Sufferers Yet Promoters of Sexism?

By Ruby Shrestha

Why aren’t we treated equally? Why does the disparity creep in? Throw anything upon us and we’ll face it equally well! Don’t underestimate our domain of ability. Capability is independent of gender. These are the words of the women who have been struck by gender disparity. Gender disparity, I believe, is a legacy of our ancestors and it indeed has a really long life expectancy. It has still not perished from our society.  It shows up in one way or the other on a daily basis, in minute details or a grave manner. The definition of females has been limited to ‘the ones who prepare food or knit clothes or clean houses’ since the primitive times. Though this definition isn’t ubiquitous nowadays, it is sorrowful that there still exist people who consider this definition to be just as correct as it could be and shed light on this definition through their actions. Males acting dominant over females and imposing superfluous rights upon them is quite understandable (not justifiable), given the patriarchal history. However, knowingly or unknowingly, sometimes, females themselves tend to limit their boundaries, become victims and promoters of sexism. What could that be the consequence of? Fear? Norm? Traditional stereotyping? Low self-esteem? Inferiority complex? Or what? Taking a stroll down the memory lane, I remember an incident that occurred during one of the Girls Vs Boys badminton matches in my high school. The ECA In-charge offered girls an advantage- unlike in the case of boys, with every win, instead of two, they get four points plus. The girls and the boys, I feel, were equally skilled. I used to watch them play every day and the girls didn’t seem to be behind in any way. I don’t know why the In-charge, who was not even their badminton coach to know about their strengths and weaknesses in the game, gave that advantage to the girls. Was he sexist? Whatever he was, that’s not of major concern here. What is of major concern is the girls’ reaction to his words. They happily agreed, and when boys revolted, they were like “Common, we are girls!” I was not the part of the team; I was an audience member watching the scene. I was startled to hear their response. Why didn’t they reject the offer? Why did they see themselves as less efficient? What has gender got to do in such a match? Isn’t that a way of promoting gender disparity? A good example of self-imposed sexism indeed, the reason behind which might probably be fear or low self-esteem. This is just one of the many scenarios of females exhibiting self-imposed sexism. There are many more in the list. Hopping on to one of the other such scenarios in the list- as I was discussing with some of my friends (girls), who are currently enrolled in either architecture or medicine, about me joining CSIT, they implicitly remarked, “Tech seems to be more of boys thing, isn’t it? Will you be able to fit in well?” I respect their concern, but candidly, I did not like that comment. Their words did not suit them, the females of the 21st century. They were themselves limiting “the female” domain of ability. Next up, comes the story of my aunt. The usual scene- both my uncle and my aunt come back home from work.After getting freshened up, my uncle sits down clumsily to watch TV, whereas my aunt goes straight to the kitchen. Whenever I ask my aunt, “Why don’t you and uncle switch places sometimes?”, her reply implies that it’s a female’s duty, an added responsibility, to prepare food. Being a learned working woman, she, herself being a sufferer, is promoting stereotyping resulting in discrimination based on gender. Furthermore, the cases of self imposed sexism are comparatively more prevalent and serious in the rural areas than in the urban areas. Females, during their menstrual cycle, silently leave their home and stay in the unhygienic cow-sheds considering themselves as being impure. Though they realize the consequences of doing so, they still impose this discriminatory rule upon themselves. Why? It may be because of the fear of going against a norm which is still deep-rooted in many parts of the country. Moreover, a majority of mothers in the village areas limit themselves and their daughters to household chores. They alienate themselves from any economic tasks outside their house.  Why? Because they do not consider the tasks outside the house to be within their domain, because they think that working outside the house is not what a good housewife or to-be-housewife ought to do. I find that funny! In addition to these, females, in general, throw in the towel quite quickly whenever they get into any discussion with the male members for gaining fair treatment in any subject of concern. This scene can be encountered not only in the rural places, but also in the urban areas.This implies that females consider themselves to be weak. I have encountered somehow similar incident in my own life. Once, when I was fighting with my brother over something which was his mistake, my mother stopped me saying, “It does not look nice for a girl to fight with a boy! He might hurt you so give up. We will look into this issue later.” I knew later meant never but sadly, I stopped with a hint of realization that he might really hurt me, though I had a water-filled bottle ready to throw at him. Duh! I too considered myself weak over him in the same way as my mother considered females to be weak compared to males, physically though. This is too a case of self-imposed sexism, isn’t it? Therefore, we females come across many of such incidents in our lives where we impose sexism upon ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly. In my opinion, one of the many different reasons contributing to it might be fear- fear of revealing our inabilities, fear of being thrashed by fellow male members, fear of going against something which is accepted by the majority. Another reason can be traditional stereotyping and norms which we have been accustomed to since our childhood. These have somehow given rise to inferiority complex within us and might have lowered our self esteem, thereby resulting in us being participatory members of self-imposed sexism. However, realization is an important part of rectifying mistakes. We are the ones striving against gender disparity time and again. So how can we be the ones promoting it, right? Let's realize our mistake and gradually transform our nature, such that we eliminate gender disparity from our activities as well as from those of others’.  Only when we clean the sexism stored somewhere in our cerebrum will we be able to clean it from those of other’s.