Sex ratio is exactly what it reads as, the ratio of males to females in a population which ideally should be 1:1 but is never so depending on several factors. We as humans are not only affected by biology but also by society and culture and thus get away with the manipulation of these numbers to fit our own desire. Some states in our country are poster regions for such manipulation in the name of sex selective abortions.
The most notorious one is Haryana, known for its unbalanced sex ratio staying put in favour of the Y chromosome and weeding out the double X to disturb the unbalance (Irony, am I right?). But as everything has a shelf life, so does the statute of toxic masculinity to suppress gender equality. What must have happened to bring the downfall of an age-old practice to abandon or kill an innocent baby only because she bears different genitalia?
What really changed was the vision, the perception of a girl not as a mere responsibility, a burden, something to pass on but as an individual of her own being, someone who could be as successful as her male counterpart, someone who could make her parents as or even more proud than her brother, she is not anymore a trophy wife but a trophy winner herself. Education opened the roads both for a career in academics as well as sports, education of parents and society painted over the ancient rule book of women as subservient.
While women in academics go back in time, sports remained uncharted territory in India for the female gender until 1952, when Mary D’Souza Sequeira became the first female contingent to represent the Helsinki country Olympics, opening up the ground for others to grace. An international representation at a big event as the Olympics led to a gradual increase in the acceptance of women in sports.
Geeta Phogat’s win at the 2010 Commonwealth games in our own national capital has since increased the participation of sportswomen in Haryana, a state plagued by an appalling number of sex selective abortions. This one feat initiated a chain reaction of heightened inclination of young girls towards sports bringing in more elements (in the form of gold, silver, and bronze) to be donned by Haryana proudly, snowballing the state’s campaign ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao‘ (save girl child, educate girl child) to be added with ‘Beti Khilao‘ (encourage sports as a career for girl child).
Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, Mary Kom, Sakshi Malik, Suman Bala, Babita Kumari, Vinesh Phogat, P.V. Sindhu are well-known sports personalities who achieved unprecedented feats with their unmoving conviction. When swinging a bat, entering a ring, putting on a glove was merely a game for a man; it transcended boundaries set by time and age for a woman. Success in sports exhibited physical and mental strength transforming the image of a woman from feeble to able.
While the image of the ceremony of bestowing a winner with a medal/trophy might be one that runs through news and our minds, what remains in the shade are the countless tribulations that one went through. One might be a champion, the honour of her country, but just before she wins, she is only showered with constant ridicule and harsh judgment.
Girls who choose sports are repeatedly met with irrational concerns over their impending transformation into a ‘man-like’ body, infertility stemming from weight training, possible introduction to illegal steroids, training with the opposite sex, and the wretched conclusion of them being undesirable for marriage.
All of this hogwash is engrained in people’s minds, and they still remain blind to all the glory acquired by women that came before. Many parents will encourage their daughters to pursue academics but will throw a hissy fit if they show interest in sports because that might be unsafe.
In accordance with history, there have been female warriors who saved a page for themselves in the book of braves, Rani Hazrat Mahal, Rani Laxmibai, Razia Sultana, and countless more. They had to fight the enemy within their own guarded lines, the enemy of oppression and patriarchy, before facing the real one. Even in a different era today, the enemy remains the same.
Luckily, there is a very straightforward solution; for the enemy to become an ally and, in a rather specific term, educate the sons to exercise gender equality and not aggravate the bias. If we have learned anything from movies like Dangal and Mary Kom is that we, as part of a social construct, make it umpteen times harder for a sportswoman to reach the summit of their own personal goals, they have to brave through a slush of cold-hearted disapproval of sexist individuals who drag them behind.
Even though the change in sex ratio in North Western states of our country is no way near balance, we owe it to these women in sports to help bring up that number. They have truly rechristened a new meaning to the female body as not only a reproductive factory but a storehouse of strength that can fight, swim, jump, race, and wrestle its way out of the box of sexism only if the instructions are read right.
On your mark, get set, go on, take down patriarchy like the boss you are!
Written by: Noor
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