International Women’s Day: The most vital right is the right to love and be loved

How much independence is gained if the narrowness and lack of freedom of the home is exchanged for the narrowness and lack of freedom of the work space?

Written by Ushy Mohan Das | Published: March 8, 2017 4:58 pm
There is no hope even that women, with her right to vote, will ever purify our politics. Express Photo by Sahil Walia

Harmony between the genders does not necessarily depend on a trivial equalisation of human beings, nor does it call for the elimination of individual traits and uniqueness.

True emancipation should make it possible for a woman to be a complete human in the truest sense. Everything within her that craves assertion, authority and activity should reach its fullest expression; all manmade barriers should be broken, and the road towards greater freedom cleared of every trace of centuries of roleplay and slavery.

The problem that confronts us today, to be solved in the nearest future, is how to be one’s self and yet in oneness with others, to feel deeply with all human beings and still retain one’s own characteristic qualities.

I would dream of a new world; in this world a woman was to be free to direct her own destiny make choices in all spheres–an aim certainly worthy of the great enthusiasm, courage, patience, and untiring effort of a host of pioneer men and women, who staked everything against a world of prejudice and ignorance.

What has she achieved through her pseudo emancipation? Women’s Reservation Bill? A Gurmehar Kaur holding placards? A Kangana expressing her angst most frequently on screen or a Madam De who rebels at the drop of a hat? There is no hope even that women, with her right to vote, will ever purify our politics. Placards have an ink that controls the writing! The news hungry are awaiting anything negative!

Emancipation might have brought women economic equality with man. That is, she can choose her own profession and trade. But as her past and present physical training has not equipped her with the necessary strength to compete with men, she is often compelled to exhaust all her energy, use up her vitality, and strain in order to reach value. Very few ever succeed, for it is a fact that women professionals are neither met with the same confidence as their male colleagues, nor receive equal remuneration.

And those that do reach that enticing equality, generally do so at the expense of their physical and mental well-being. As to the great mass of working women, how much independence is gained if the narrowness and lack of freedom of the home is exchanged for the narrowness and lack of freedom of the work space?

In addition is the burden which is laid on many women of looking after a “home, sweet home” –cold, dreary, disorderly and often lonely and uninviting–after a day’s hard work. No wonder that hundreds of working girls are so willing to accept the first offer of matrimony, sick and tired of their “independence” behind the counter, or monitors.

Time and again it has been conclusively proved that the old matrimonial relation restricted women to the function of man’s servant and the bearer of his children. And yet we find many emancipated women who prefer marriage, with all its deficiencies, to the narrowness of an unmarried life: narrow and unendurable because of the chains of moral and social prejudice that cramp and bind her nature.

The tragedy of the self-supporting, independent or economically free woman does not lie in too many, but in too few experiences. True, she surpasses the women of past generations in knowledge of the world and human nature; it is just because of this that she feels deeply the lack of life’s essence, which alone can enrich the human soul, and without which the majority of women have become mere professional robots.

The description of the lives of the women who share with me of such runs a marked trail of unsatisfied craving for a full, rounded, complete, and beautiful life, and the unrest and loneliness resulting from the lack of it. One cannot help but see that the higher the mental development of a woman, the less possible it is for her to meet a congenial mate who will see in her, not only sex, but also the human being, the friend, the confidante of strong individuality, who cannot and ought not lose a single trait of her character.

A rich intellect and a fine soul are usually considered necessary attributes of a deep and beautiful personality. In the case of the modern woman, these attributes serve as a hindrance to the complete assertion of her being. Until a woman has learned to defy them all, to stand firmly on her own ground and to insist upon her own unrestricted freedom, to listen to the voice of her nature, whether it call for life’s greatest treasure, love for a man, or her most glorious privilege, the right to give birth to a child, she cannot call herself emancipated.

The greatest shortcoming of the evolution of the present day lies in its artificial stiffness and its narrow respectabilities, which produce an emptiness in a woman’s soul that will not let her drink from the fountain of life. Emancipation begins in woman’s soul. History tells us that every oppressed woman gained true liberation from its oppressors through her own efforts. It is for a woman to begin with her inner regeneration, to cut loose from the weight of prejudices, bias, traditions, and customs. The demand for equal rights in every vocation of life is just and fair; but, after all, the most vital right is the right to love and be loved.

Narrowness separates; Expansion unites. Let us be broad and big. Treat people as unique souls not mere man and woman, people of different gender. That alone can fill the emptiness, and transform the tragedy of a woman’s emancipation into abundant, limitless joy.

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