Most of my readers, as far as I know, have English as their first language (South Africans excepted), and come from so-called advanced white western societies.
In the pursuit of feminism, many people think because women have got the vote and we have equal opportunities legislation in force, that there is no need for feminism. After all, there is no disparity. Is there? I’ll look at this in more detail when I write a post on ‘What about teh menz?’
For now though, hold that thought, and let’s look elsewhere. Because feminism and women’s position of inequality, is worldwide.
When I grew up, there were three women Prime Ministers. India, Ceylon and Israel had all beaten Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the USA to elect a woman as leader of their country.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was in power from 1970–72 and Indira Gandhi held office from 1966–77. It was the late 80s before Benazir Bhutto was elected prime minister of Pakistan, and the first woman to become head of state of any Muslim nation. Like Indira Gandhi, Bhutto was assassinated. (Note to self: not a good idea to become a woman prime minister of India or Pakistan.) Khalida Zia became the first woman prime minister of Bangladesh in 1991.
I mention these women specifically because this post is about south Asia, ie the India sub-continent, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan primarily.
One of the sillier arguments against feminism, is that, when a woman achieves a powerful position, ergo, there is no further need for society to do anything. If a woman can be prime minister, surely that proves we have equality between the sexes?
Well, simply. No. Especially when they get killed.
Back in the UK, we had a political drive to ensure our boards were made up equally of men and women (it didn’t last long). My chair, who was a woman, said: ‘As I’m a woman, we don’t need any other women on the board, do we?’
No, Syl. That is not equal representation. One woman lording it over eight or nine men does not equality represent. Typical Queen Bee syndrome.
But in the groundbreaking countries of South Asia with their early women prime ministers, we have ‘Eve teasing‘ which I learned about via Carissa’s fascinating Mumbai-based blog.
This was a new one on me, so I thought I would share it with my dear readers.
It’s basically sexual harassment that can range from verbal to physical abuse, ie from sexually suggestive comments to groping.
In itself, the name, is an excellent example of sexism in language.
It comes from Eve as the temptress, because it’s always a woman’s fault, right?
And it’s teasing. It’s fun and flirtatious to be on the receiving end of sexual comments, be regarded as an object for someone else’s sexual pleasure, and be sexually assaulted. This is not teasing. At all.
But, wait, the solution to this is to dress conservatively, or ensure one has a man with one after dark. Or probably at all times.
For the record I had no problems in India in 84/85, although I did have problems in Italy the same year and in the Phillippines. Morocco has been fine too, although years before he met me, my partner teamed up with a couple of women who were getting unwanted attention aka sexual harassment.
We should call these criminal offences what they are. They are not attention or teasing. They are at best insulting, but the bottom line is that they are sexual harassment, which in the case of physical contact, becomes sexual assault/aggression. Because, no, men do not have a right to touch a woman’s breasts or bottom. Or any part of her body. Or tell her what they want to do to her.
So you see, we can have all the legislation in place to promote ‘equality’, we can have women leaders, but until we change societal attitudes, we will not eliminate the discrimination against women and their status as sexual objects. (Obviously when they pass the useful sexual stage they no longer have status). And the rights of men to regard them as such.
‘What about teh menz?’ will be up soon. Ish.