After Bhai-bhai And Gau-gau, Maybe It Is Time For Behen-behen Now!

Posted by Sourajit Aiyer
May 1, 2017


Even wondered why “bhai-bhai” is used by default when community or bonhomie has to be portrayed? Why never “behen-behen”? “Gau-gau” has also taken bandwidth in the public mindset, which is all right given its sentimental reasons. So if men and cows are recognized in our communities by the usage of bhai-bhai and gau-gau in popular parlance, why not behen-behen? Despite the unending irreconcilable differences between all our demographics, communities, religions and castes, this is one steadfast common thing in our male-dominated society.

Forget a call for recognizing women in our communities, incidents against women still galore our newspapers! Be it rape, honour killing, forced marriage, verbal abuse, domestic violence, psychological torture, eve-teasing, etc; these are only those which reach the newspapers. Women are subject to many incidents of inconsideration and disregard, which are not even deemed newsworthy. Culprits could be her spouse or in-laws, or one’s own parents. All these incidents, big or small, gnaw away the spirit, progress and self-independence of women bit by bit; be it by restricting her physical movements to go to work or do her own thing, or by putting them down mentally constantly. Unlike popular belief that these are largely rural mind-sets, metro cities are not any ahead either in its own mindset, if one goes by incidents reported in daily newspapers or by anecdotal evidence.

But there is good news too! We have made progress in the state of our women. Enrollment into secondary and higher education increased. Despite domestic and public-life irritants, women are balancing both domestic and office work. In many cases, they are equal, if not bigger, bread-winners in the family. Many men are doing their bit, by helping in the housework unlike their traditional role of lord-and-master. Many mother-in-laws are unreasonably demanding, thanks to the daily dose of irrational TV-soaps. They conveniently forget today’s women might be a mother working full-time in a high-pressure job, which many mother-in-laws of today never faced. But there are the normal types too.

But biases still remain amongst many! While education is picking up, there are several households where the school-bill of the girl-child is looked as a liability, and there is that desire is to enroll the girl is a more inferior school or college which charges lower fees. While women are entering the job-market, they often face a glass-ceiling in terms of rising up the corporate ladder; hence have to work harder than male counterparts. Many men feel insecure to report to a woman-boss. Companies with women in senior roles are still few. More women are now driving in our cities. Yet there are men who will quip a joke to be careful when a lady-driver is driving close-by. Ironically, most accidents in our cities are by the men themselves. While handing out inheritance, the son gets the first-preference in many households even today instead of dividing it equally. The desire to find the gender of the foetus before birth, and mutilate it if it’s a girl, has forced many hospitals to put up signs that ‘asking the baby’s gender is a punishable offense’.

But there is the other side too – not all women are victims! There are many women who take undue advantage of the favorable situations they have, in a bid to have the bread buttered on both sides. Some in-laws are now doing double-parenting to manage their grandchildren in the home, since the woman finds it a convenient arrangement without foregoing her career. Some women are okay to use their gender to gratify the boss and rise up the corporate ladder. Some are okay to tolerate domestic incidents, as their education degree has to be complemented by the actual desire to work, and they find it easier to bear a bit of domestic irritant in return of not having to work each day in a grinding routine. Some incidents of domestic atrocities reported against women are proved to be their own conspiracies, to get a disproportionate benefit from damages at the cost of the man. After all, there are all sorts of people in the society.

But a large proportion of women still bear the brunt of our male-dominated society. Due to the preferential treatment they receive as boys, many grow up into men with a disjointed sense of “I-only-matter”. Unless these skewed attitudes alter, our society can never deliver equal treatment to women. Even after the progressive roles women play in our society, the acknowledgement of community would always be “bhai-bhai” because it is males who matter. The discriminatory mind-set still finds it tough to use “behen-behen”. Perhaps it is high time this mind-set changes with a call for “behen-behen”! Do you feel the same way? Share if you do!

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