Patriarchal clutch: If not parity, at least dignity

The corporate capitalism and consumerism have not only demeaned feminine image of women but reduced it to sphere of vulnerability.

There is no doubt about it that women’s education has been a success story of free India. Nevertheless, domestic violence has enhanced over the years, surprisingly. Even in the western world, there is enormous rise in divorces, women torture and discriminations in public and private spheres. In Scandinavian countries, astonishingly women get fewer salaries that than their counter parts on the same positions in the universities.

In our sub continental region, dowry deaths, honour killings, forced marriages have added new dimensions to the physical sexual and emotional sufferings of women. The treatment to the women is grounded in the mind set, which is patriarchal, travelled in history and getting strengthening in each epoch of Order making. The corporate capitalism and consumerism have not only demeaned feminine image of women but reduced it to sphere of vulnerability. Unless it melts down, the human woes will not subside.

In the making of human civilization, the drive to family formation has been uncivil. It has been an elongated years correction making process to the guilt of ‘Oedipus complex’ (Freud’s psychoanalysis) to the marital bonds avoiding specific relationships, as gratification gifts (levy Strauss’s structuralism), yet arriving in feudalism, women were deprived of their past, heritage and legacy, when property was made private. It was first explosion of patriarchy.

Religions or modernity, the Order making models together have reinforced patriarchy. Religious denunciation of woman is through ‘that perennial ‘sin’, which created the loss of paradise, therefore woman in attribution is as ‘comfort commodity’ and service to man. In an era of religiosity and consumer capital, it has undermined the alternate thought.Modernity on the other hand adjudicated woman lower to man through experimental psychology over Freudian psychoanalysis. This had made possible to mix it with political power. Women’s social construction in such a way spelled boom for territorial expansions, conversions, colonisations, insurgencies and above all constructing wifization and its enforcement social prejudices. Faiths and modernity have not faced women questions directly. Prior to 1800, the legal systems accepted’ wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife… only exception was 1641 ‘Body of liberties of the Massachusetts Bay colonists, which declared that a married woman should be free from bodily correction or stripes by her husband’. It was in 1920s, after the World War1, women asked the questions about the logic of war, when its ramifications were hard for them. It generated First wave of Feminism that enabled women to have voting rights first time in England. Women did not ask for share or role distribution but made it; point that men’s decisions affect them more than what it does to men. The post-world war era, until close of previous century was an era of intellectual movements. It witnessed debates on body politics, bio power and post-modernist consciousness in disciplines challenging centring and consensus theories. The debates of cognition and understanding of language and consciousness generated existential movements that termed religion, patriarchy regress for human transformation. The Second Wave Feminism challenged the role divisions of male and female and introduced gender as a new analytical category. It is a different category from sexual classification that is not given but culturally and socially constructed. It gave convulsive coinage in North America and even in some countries of Europe in 1960s, when house wives declared themselves as ‘home makers ‘or ‘domestic engineers’ to integrate it with calculative market rationale from unpaid calculus. ’Existence precedes essence’opened updebates onbody discourse and gave credence to Meta narratives indicating the limitations of Grand narratives and Faiths. The sex–gender distinction has generated huge literature how women’s behaviour is structured culturally in society and rationalised as ‘natural sex difference’. It has been made more than clear by new experimental and post-modernist literature that ‘women nature is no less than human nature. It is neither fixed nor consistently pliable’. Since the advent of new century witnessed the collapse of intellectual thinking with the rise of market rationale and globalization; the corporate realm again reinforced patriarchy by deriving woman as a metaphor of consumerism. It has reduced the value of human production less than the commodity production. The fallouts are obvious, disintegrating families, role conflicts between home and office, blurred relationships and failing marriages. Women have become less secured and more vulnerable in an era, which is an era is of manufactured chaos. Therefore, for human project, men and women need revisiting of their relationship to protect their bond not through living relationships but through well tested social institutions of family and marriage.

Why we need reformation, for western thought and its order making have only disenchanted humankind. The Biological Fundamentalism in our case is intrinsic in harmony with social constructions. We need to look upon on these identified traditions that give us humanness of our nature. The 9th to 12th century Kashmiri Shaivism did not differentiate between Shiva and Shakti, not a binary but a realm divided by roles equal in esteem. This was fused in Lalded-Nund Rishi traditions, the blending of best of Sufi Islam and the kernel of Shavite philosophy. Woman is neither ‘Maya’ nor ‘service of asset’ but pervading energy of cultural repertoire. In this division of roles the cultural capital was combined. When Europe was in dark ages, in Kashmir Women were as educated as men, especially in literary and cultural sphere. Despite power with non-native monarchies, the subdued Rishi tradition could retain its cultural social repertoire. Women were queens in their domestic realm and men outside would fulfil the roles not in contradiction but in harmony with mutual and consensus on moral sanctions. It was a powerful native tradition that would mean engagement and attachment intrinsic, moral and material inherent and freedom and security central with marked social and cultural boundaries. Western social engineering, non-native traditions and distant referent only produced rupture in it. We had a chance to regain it after independence, but we lost it in non-native cognitive referent and got mystified in illusions. Despite wilful disempowerment of these native traditions, its kernel is still has not dried up. Its seeds need fresh nourishment with fresh efforts and enriched reformation.

In our traditions the boundaries are not blurred between men and women. Marriages are sacrosanct, lasting, one time bond lasting for lifelong. Women want their husbands to give them security with dignity. The arranged marriages would make it possible to have holistic capital that would have organic evolution of the family. Since arranged marriages are no longer possibility in view of market forces and blurred boundaries; the joint and extended families are disintegrating. The marriages should have sustained if it is based on mutual trust and economic viability, but it too seems to be faltering in substantial figures. The western marriages resting on equality, parity and sexuality still face more divorce rates. In our case, marriages are lasting for a wife does not demand parity, if she is well protected economically and socially. She would accept that patriarchy in the absence of a civil society provided that can guarantee her social dignity and future for her children.

The global transformations occurring due to COVID-19 has its implications on the order making as well. Taliban’s regained control has revealed that nativity is more organised and strong in bonding and collective trust. However, it has raised questions about native traditions being universal. In our case, unlike Taliban our native traditions are not exclusivist traditions. It is melting of Greater traditions of Islam with local shavite traditions, a blending through RishiSufi stream that has capacity to accommodate Enlightenment ethos of European traditions. It is women centric with entitlements of cultural symbolic capabilities. Lal Ded is its harbinger and Nund Rishi its agency of structuration. It is nativity on the path of universality, an organic evolution, where women are dignified appreciated and accepted as the custodian of social cultural and epistemic capital repertoires. Our reformation has to be on such lines, that blends religion with philosophy of common existence.

Ashok Kaul, Emeritus professor in sociology at Banaras Hindu University

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