MIDWAY: The great divide

Women have made great strides in almost every sector of the society. Incredibly, however, women still aren’t valued as much as men. Lawrence M Miller, the chairman of LM Miller & Company, Atlanta, writes: “Men, conditioned by the military discipline and by the numbing toil of field work have learnt over the centuries to suppress the emotion and expression; women, conditioned by the centuries of mothering have superior experience in the realm of caring and intimacy”. Indeed, the concept of men from the ferocious Mars and women from the rather docile Venus seems to be reinforced by the everyday evidence of the supposed male superiority.

Women have come a long way towards breaking through the stereotype. But still, discrimination, superstition and deep-seated beliefs of male superiority are hard to erase in a generation or two. This has made the life of women different and more difficult as compared to that of men. Even in this day and age, their style of clothing, choice of friends, among other social aspects, are in total conformity of the male mindset. The society keeps reminding women of the discrimination and restrictions they have to live under, thus preventing them from living as per their free choices.

Recently, while travelling in a bus, I chanced upon a lady friend of yesteryears. Accompanied by another lady, she could not even lift her head to respond to my inviting smile and seemed totally indifferent to my presence during the hour-long commute. I could almost discern fear on her innocent face even as I felt the strands of our friendship snapping with each passing minute.

She’s literate, modern and beautiful — indeed, the perfect woman. But also a dutiful wife whose life is inexorably tied with that of her hubby, who looks after her needs and provides her with all modern comforts. I could not help feeling that her desires and vision now were not her own; ever since she tied the nuptial knot, it had been necessary for her to look at the world through the prism of her hubby. Donning her demure feminity, she seemed to have completely abandoned her identity. While women are making much hue and cry about liberation and individuality, men still seem to enjoy the last laugh.