“Women should be seen and not heard”
– A recent Facebook post
Patriarchy by definition is a social system in which the head of the family is the eldest male. Patriarchal system dates back to thousands of years. A time when physical strength was of utmost importance, and men being relatively physically stronger, began to lead their clan and their immediate families. This is how the concept of male domination came into existence.
Tactfully and systematically, women were pulled down and made to submit to the system. Our place in the society was degraded to an extent that we were only seen as a tool to bear progeny and as an object of mens’ lust. We held no power, no say and were seen only as property to be claimed and won over. Always expected to be seen and never heard. Only in the name of ‘development’ and ‘civilization’, this patriarchal system thrived.
However it wasn’t always so. During the earlier age, especially during the Saraswati and Harappan civilizations, the society was balanced and inclined to a matriarchal system. It was a free society where men and women held equal importance and power. Both commanded equal respect. Many examples seen in our scriptures are evidence to this. The Vedic age consisted of highly renowned women scholars like Gargee and Mytreyi who not only worked hand in hand with their counterparts but many times even outdid them.
The tribal civilizations which date back to this period were matriarchal societies and many of them exist till date. The tribal clans of Andaman and Nicobar islands, whom we ignorantly call backward, are a living proof of peaceful and developed matriarchal society. In fact the societies that acknowledge and provide equal stand to women are noticeably advanced and intellectually developed.
Today we live in a golden age. This is truly the time where the society has the chance and freedom to change its norms. We are in dire need of change. Patriarchal system needs to give way to a balanced and equal one. We need to think and stand up for ourselves. Religiously, socially and economically we have been repressed. Fortunately the laws of today are more pro-women than ever before and we must and should take this opportunity to break out of the clutches of this regressive system.
One of the initial steps that we could take is post marriage (if one decides to marry), we could refuse to change our maiden names. This will give us independence socially and psychologically. One more step that can bring about positive change is when each and every one of us decides to strive for financial independence. This change in outlook will be possible only if all of us have a strong will to change the society. Change can be expected only if we believe in it. We should stand up and fight every step of our way
This is indeed the golden era and where every person is in a position to strive for a free and equal society.
-This piece is contributed by Apoorva Bapat – A software engineer and an enthusiast of open source content.