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Why ‘Freedom’ Isn’t The Same Experience For Men And Women

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By Renuka Mene:

INDIA - MARCH 21: Female workers on crowded commuter train of Western Railway near Mahalaxmi Station on the Mumbai Suburban Railway, India (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Image credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images.

When a writer writes, “Man is a social animal,” they mean both men and women. Likewise, “Man is intelligent”, ‘he’ made machines. The ‘he’ also refers to both men and women. ‘Man’ is the word to define mammals walking on two feet who can think. But when it comes to biology we start talking about the real ‘he’ and then we realise that there is a ‘she’. This biological realisation of a ‘she’ is fine. Even beautiful! But the manifestations of it have been bad, worse, or even traumatic.

The labelling of genders in an attempt to construct society has been a failure or may I say ‘exploitative’. What makes a society? Thought processes. From where do they come? By instilling thoughts through repetition over years. Religion, laws, and trade have primarily decided our fate. Religion told us the difference between one man and the other, laws inform us of the so-called right and wrong and trade literally decided our fate. Desires that benefit the individual, aims, innovations that run in the minds of both the genders are not cared for equally by society. They grow deep inside us. They are fuelled by knowledge and independent and creative thoughts. The hampering of this by societal roles is the greatest loss of the far more amazing human mind.

And the ‘she’ has paid the heaviest price for this societal construction. Was the ‘she’ ever asked what she wanted? Do you want to dance crazily on the streets? Want to travel? Want to innovate? Want to be this super sweet mom? Want to be a loner? By asking, I don’t mean asking what career ‘she’ wants. I mean a way of life. It could be anything. The biological differentiation took over so much that innate wishes were left unheard, unaltered, un-experimented or they never germinated. The biological segregation has led to an unequal experience of freedom.

Biology has suppressed the ‘she’ part of the term ‘Man’. So, are we supposed to conclude that biology decides the fate of all? The answer is obviously no. I feel we need to stick to that ‘no’ really strongly, by which I mean not yielding to biological, societal forms of living. Both parties have to realise that life, comfort, happiness belongs to both.

‘She’ will not put up with the rules thrown upon her. She will not sacrifice for no reason. She is not meant to deal with the gender role assigned to her. She will live ‘freely’. She will be the ‘Man’ that nature wants her to be. She will go bald if she wishes. She will be absolutely free with her sexual choices. She is free to make ‘social blunders’ etc. She will live for her passion wholeheartedly. This passion will neutralise the gender roles.

I remember the dialogue from the movie ‘Titanic’ where Rose’ mother tells her, “We are women. Our choices are not easy.” That dialogue rings a bell. Why is my choice not easy? Why behind every great man there is a woman and behind every great woman there’s is no one? With so much education imparted to our men, where is their understanding?

This ‘oh woman, it’s not easy for you’ should be turned into ‘go on..it’s all yours’. A woman’s achievements often are made to look like a crusader’s journey. But why make things so difficult for her in the first place?

The society needs to make things easier for her or else we will have both parties, men and women, walk in the same direction but without holding hands.

You must be to comment.
  1. B

    I also remember a dialogue from The Titanic. When the ship was sinking, someone announced “women and children first.” Men were left to die and women were rescued. Why didn’t women refuse to get off the ship and ask for equality?

  2. Spider-Man

    Women have the right to keep a child if pregnant and give it up for adoption, absolving herself of financial responsibility. Men do not.

    Women have the right to keep the baby even if the father did not want the baby and had taken reasonable precautions to avoid pregnancy. Men do not and will have to accept the decision of the female to govern their livelihood.

    Women have the right to abort a baby for any reason. Men do not.

    Women have the right to scam a man into child support if it is not his, a man has little right to fight against a fraudulent claim.

    Women have the right to choose whether they wish to be drafted in war, emergency or martial law recruitment. Men do not.

    Women have the right to child custody almost unanimously even if the father wants custody as well. Men are severely disadvantaged.

    Women have the right to falsely accuse of domestic abuse in family court, or rape cases with virtually no chance of any legal repercussion even if it ruins the mans life.

    Women have the right to hold underage statutory male rape victims accountable for child support. Men would be hard pressed not ending up in jail for sex offence in this case.

    Women who commit crimes are systematically held less accountable than their male counterparts, by police and courts to the extent that there is a vast disparity in almost every possible crime. Many female rapists, pedophiles and murderers get away with their crime or get severely reduced charges because they try to justify her actions threw sympathy that men do not get.

    Women have the right to talk about their gender issues without being wrongfully dubbed politically incorrect or backwards, men do not, even if they feel not addressing these issues is what is backwards.

    1. Jaspreet Sidhu

      you are right, and this is the kind of sexism and inequality that feminists are fighting for. for women to be equal to men, in privilege as well as responsibility. These kind of advantages given to women are a by product of the patriarchal system which portrays women as weak, defenceless and unable to think by themselves. Its also imperative that men’s rights should be given enough importance so as to warrant a separate discussion. They should not be held up as arguments against women’s rights. Its not men vs women. It’s human beings vs inequality.

  3. Jigsaw

    Men don’t have the freedom to sit at home and live off of someone else’s earnings, men commit suicide due to joblessness, the first question men are asked is, “kamata kitna hai”, majority of homesless in the world are men because joblessness can mean homelessness, men are forced by law to give property, alimony, child support etc to women. Don’t talk to me about freedom until you get these things fixed.

  4. renuka

    That wasnt really a situation of equality and inequality. None of the woman though wanted to leave their husband.
    that was just a system followed as kids are sensitive and woman a lil vulnerable in that crisis.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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