Same things looked at from different perspectives appear so very different. I have grown up watching movies on Doordarshan as a kid, and Rajkumar movies in Kannada have made an impact in my mind like no other external events in my childhood. Primarily his historical or mythological movies – Bhakta Prahlada, Babruvahana and Kaviratna Kalidasa stand out vividly. I shall eulogise Rajkumar in a separate post sometime soon. The instigation to write this post today was something more subtle, yet profound.
A lazy Sunday evening at home (a rarity ), and I happened to catch one of the aforementioned movies of Rajkumar on TV. Kaviratna Kalidasa was playing and I relish the movie with its songs and sublime lines.
A new realisation that I was experiencing as I was watching it today was to do with the supposed maturity in my understanding of the society we live in.
The wife of the protagoinst in this movie, seems servile to the husband and follows it as the duty of her life; this servility expected out of women is perceived as the ethical standard in the society then, and very little has changed even today (think beyond the urban families you know of).
The dependency of a woman either on her father/husband/son all life is a deep rooted fixation planted by a male chauvinist society, which has for centuries subdued the aspirations and free spirit of the female fraternity. While I have watched movies or even social realites synchronising with this notion, rarely have I been able to, at the least, take note of the inconsitency. It has taken me this while to be able to recognise it as a discrimination.
In Tamil, the word for husband is ‘kanavan’. In a conversation with an erudite Tamil writer, he happened to decipher the term to me. ‘Kan’ is ‘eye’, and ‘avan’ is ‘him’. So the wife has a vision of the world through her husband,and this is what it implied by the word ‘kanavan’. In most real senses, and also historicaly she has been so dependent on her husband that, the one of the classic languages in the world – Tamil, has a term which imbibes this idea in itself, and hence it must have been widely accepted in the society as well.
Likwise, even English for that matter has terms like male-female, he-she,man-woman in vocabulary. Even in grammar the gender of abstract noun defaults to masculine. Now these could simply be disregarded as a correlation of genders that evolved as language evolved, or if one could let one’s power of reasoning digress, we can also observe that the identity of female fraternity as a whole is given a status that is an extended identity of the male section. The observation I am trying to make is simply that the dependence of women on men is systematically imbibed in our language, culture and etiquette. And without rigorous attempts of breaking out, we might find it convenient to stay dormant about it, and perpetuate this discrimination.
Things are getting better, or at least one likes to think so. But, only if we are able to identify these inconsistencies, as anomalies at all strata of our lives will we truly esalate to become an egalitarian society, on gender lines.