In 1975 I was working as the Headmaster of an Upper Primary School in W.G.Dt., A.P. The management employed a woman as a water carrier-cum-sweeper in the School. Besides this duty she used to do house-hold chores, look after the pigs and attend some odd jobs so as to maintain her family. She had five children. Her husband was always found making baskets using bamboo sticks sitting in front of their little hut situated near the tank bund of the village.
One day, he came to me and said, “Sir, my wife consumes alcohol daily and beats me quite often. You are the Head of the School. So please scold her and warn her not to do do.” I was wonderstruck at this.
Later, some day, I had been to Jillellamudi. Normally I was busy attending some work at the House of All, Annapoornalayam and Hymalayam. I remember some of our brethren, sitting in the pious presence of AMMA, were seriously discussing about the topic ‘The Independence of Woman’. I remember Dr. Potturi Venkateswara Rao’s concluding statement ‘Amma! A woman needs interdependence but not Independence’.
Later, in the night, I went to sleep on a mat very close to the cot of AMMA as was my habit. AMMA, the very shape of righteousness, truth and wisdom, was sitting on the cot. Sitting at her holy feet I narrated the incident cited in detail and could not stop laughing saying that the man was beaten up by his drunken wife quite often.
AMMA was steadfast and straight forward. SHE loves all, everything and hates none, nothing. SHE is unbelievably a complete personality, the personification of everything seen and unseen in the universe.
She spoke candidly, “It makes you laugh. Why? Here is something uncommon. You (men) are expected to beat them (women). But here happened is something different. In what way you (men) are superior to them (women)? Both wife and husband need to work to make both ends meet. Aren’t they doing all kinds of jobs on par with you besides bringing up the children doing all house-hold drudgery? Aren’t they doing?
In what way you are superior to them?
In fact, the superiority feeling (masculine supremacy) has been internalized in
I was flabbergasted. I bent down my head without a word in silence. ‘Masculine Supremacy has been internalized in the blood’ the words of AMMA have been reverberating in my heart and ears.
Is it true? Yes, by all means.
Soon I remembered a famous saying:
‘Women are looked upon as –
Goddesses in the temples,
Angels in the street and
Devils at home.’
Mostly it stands upright. A word about it may be like this:
The eternal force, the primordial power, the cause of creation, sustenance and destruction has been worshipped as the holy trinity-Goddess Maha Saraswathi, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali.
Outside the temple and in the street she is looked upon as a source of beauty. Moreover, inside the house ill-treated, slandered, found guilty and sometimes beaten black and blue for no fault of her.
If we go through ‘A Room of One’s Own’ written by Virginia Woolf, we will come to know that a woman has been the down trodden-section of the society down the centuries across the globe.
Even today, the elite section of the so-called culturally advanced men and women rejoice at having a male child and at the same time hold it a curse to have a female child. In this context I would like to condemn their brutal act of foeticide and infanticide which means destroying the onset of a female child either in the womb or in the cradle. This eventually results in the suicide of the mother.
So far as the phrases ‘daughter-in-law’, ‘mother-in-law’ and ‘sister-in-law’ are concerned, they seem fair sounding like ‘daughter like’, ‘mother-like’ and ‘sister-like’. But how many mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law treat the daughters-in-law in such true spirit?
Gender-bias prevails and predominates in each and every layer of the society. In school textbooks, that are expected to focus on human values, tend to give examples in the classroom as follows:
‘My mother cooks food for me.
My father reads newspaper.
My sister washes the clothes.
My brother plays cricket. (examples given so as to teach Present simple Tense). It’s true. See the nature of work allotted to the mother and the sister vs. the father and the brother.
In ancient time too we find scholars to have shunned women saying – (STREE BUDDHIHI PRALAYANTAKAHA) which means that woman’s thought leads to destruction, annihilation and chaos. The same concept prevails in the west also as – ‘Cats cannot go to heaven and women cannot write Shakespeare.’
Once again let me ponder over Amma’s words ‘Aren’t they doing all kinds of jobs on par with you besides bringing up children doing all house-hold drudgery?’
How could anybody define the phrase ‘a working woman’? Generally we mean a woman working in an office an industry, a shop i.e. salaried employee. What about a house-wife or an agricultural laborer? Aren’t they working woman? How one could estimate or evaluate the work turned out by a woman, especially a mother, in terms of material or money? In fact, every woman is a working woman may be inside or outside the house.
One million-dollar-question that still remains unanswered is Does a working woman enjoy economic freedom financial independence, express her likes and dislikes, claim equal opportunity and status and play a key-role in decision-making? The answer is an emphatic ‘NO’. Her independence is that of a tethered cow or goat.
At the cost of and at the loss of everything recently the society has realized the fact. The Govt. has been taking steps as to eradicate Gender-bias by way of providing Reservation for women in Education, Employment and Legislature. The Govt. of A.P. reserves 33.33% of seats for women in getting educated. It’s a positive sign, a purgation and purification for all the injustice done. True Education is the key to women’s Empowerment. Educated individuals are as much superior to uneducated individuals as the living are to the dead.
But by passing bills and issuing G.O.S is not a remedy, is no guarantee, is only a means but not an end in itself. Unless the mind-set of the society is changed, unless it is freed from its dogma (APUTRASYA GATIHI NASTI – a person who doesn’t have a son finds no way for salvation), women cannot aspire for betterment, can never be released from the traditional golden parrot-cage.
This is all the reality that I understand by AMMA’s words. “In what way you are superior to them? In fact, the supremacy feeling has been internalized in your blood.”