| Gursharan Singh | Opinion | 4 Feb 2016 | Asia Samachar |
7.0 Consequence of ‘Freedom of Women’
7.1 The new found freedom of the women saw them flexing their powers and refusing to comply with many of the existing values, traditions, ceremonies and rituals that had been made by the male dominated authorities-societies-religions which been in practice for ages. The newly emancipated women were not docile who accepted everything without questioning the rationale and its impact on their own quality of life. The women started questioning the old values that stated that the place of women was within the four walls of the house, warm the beds of men, provide sex at any time and every time, make [male] babies, look after the families, treat their husbands as ‘gods’ under whose feet was their heaven and salvation and working women give their income to the husband or family.
7.2 In addition the women were becoming disenchanted with the institution of marriage where they had little choice before marriage and even less after marriage. They also realized that the system is substantially in favor of men who enjoyed the ‘benefits’ without the ‘responsibilities’ where the women are left with ‘liabilities’ [domestic duties, families, in-laws and other extended families responsibilities]. Thus increasing numbers of career women are reluctant to get married until such time they are financially stable and they do not want to be [owned] dependent on the men. They also realized that the financially independent women can afford to ignore the society that does not approve of their life styles while the same society has been partial to the wayward ways of the men.
SEE ALSO: Women: ‘Property’ of Men – Part 1
SEE ALSO: Women: ‘Property’ of Men – Part 2
SEE ALSO: Women: ‘Property’ of Men – Part 3
7.3 The major impact of this new found and exercised freedom of the woman started delayed marriages or not marrying at all. This also resulted in the beginning of increased breakdown of marriages through divorces and belief in the institution of marriage as was prevalent. The number of financially independent educated women [unmarried, divorced, widowed] has been steadily increasing throughout the world in societies where the women are financially self sufficient. In the Sikh community the divorce rate is estimated to be over 50% and most divorces involve career men/women professionals. The reason for this high rate could be inability of the men and especially their mothers who are unable or unwilling to accept the new reality that the career daughter in law will not be at the beck and call of the husband and mother-in-law.
7.4 Educated financially independent women have further discovered and realized that the ‘benefits’ of marriage can be obtained outside the marriage and without any of the ‘liabilities’. This has led many young urban women to follow the life styles of their male counterparts and started having casual affairs and also to have ‘live-in’ partners. There are an increasing number of women who take the lead, and the many emancipated men who are now living together without the ritual of marriage. What was available in the past only in marriage is now freely available and these include food-entertainment-sex.
7.5 Financially independent women regard the views of the society as narrow and outdated but society has little power to take any action against these live-in system as the couples are financially independent and their number is increasing together with the status in the society due to their wealth and the positions of power that they hold in the corporate and public sector. In most cases the parents, relatives and the society has commenced accepting the new realities as they are helpless and accepts the new lifestyles though not happily. The only one who does not want to accept the new realities is the male dominated religious/society leaders who quote the religious scriptures as a basis for their opposition.
7.6 In the second half of the twentieth century women from well off families in the conservative societies/countries had the opportunity to continue their higher educations in western countries where they saw the difference in cultures and values. The effect of this was the spreading of the ‘freedom’ movement to other conservative societies in other countries in the rest of the world. Initially it has been limited to the educated women especially those who have been exposed to western societies but it has since expanded even further.
7.7 The advent of television has brought the western lifestyles and values into the living rooms of the world that is now global. The tourism industry has provided affordable travel where the women of the western world have brought to the conservative societies their life styles and values and realization to the local women the values of financial independence. Similarly women from these conservative societies have traveled to the west and witnessed the life styles and values of the financially independent women. The awareness is also spreading in the rural societies of the world with the advent of television and internet that has brought the western lifestyles has into the living rooms of the world that is now global.
8.0 Impact of ‘Freedom’ for Women
8.1 The main cause of the breakdown of social values is perceived to be the inability of men and the male dominated society to change their mindset to give the new self confident women their rightful dues and respect and adjust themselves to the changed scenario. The independent women of today ask for the same rights as those enjoyed by the men with shared responsibilities that are equitable and provide mutual respect.
8.2 Failure of any one party to play its balanced role tends to lead to separation where the individuals amicably agree to go there separate ways without any blame. However the main losers in such separations are the children, if any, and the elderly parents. This potential problem is mitigated by the women who chose either not to marry or not to have children or to have children that they can afford to look after properly as single parents. They realized the main cause of the problems was marriage and thus they chose not to marry but to have live-in relationships.
8.3 The present trend suggests that the institution of marriage will slowly but steadily decline and cease to exist within the next few generations. The marriage ceremonies will be held more for social and entertainment purposes. Further the growing gap between available women and the men is widening where the number of men grossly exceed the women. The shortage of women may even result in the women having multiple partners.
8.4 Another visible impact of the women leaving the home and joining the workforce is the steadily increasing number of restaurants and eating stalls [food courts] that are mushrooming in the urban areas. The initial increase in food outlets is to cater for the women who used to cook the food for the families and who have now abandoned the kitchens and themselves have become patrons. Another side effect of absence of home cooking is the continuous substantial increase in patrons for food outlets.
8.5 It may be observed that men used to hold the view that the place of women is the kitchen to cook, serve and wash after the men/family has had their meals. The men rarely cooked or served or washed in the house. To-day most restaurants have women managers/owners and men are cooks [or chefs if in high class restaurants], waiters, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and cleaning utensils. Though this may be done more by foreign immigrants there are many local men who also do the same. The Mamak stalls are operated by men and tea/coffee makers are generally men in restaurants/stalls.
8.6 The adverse effect of this new development is that the families are deprived of the clean-healthy-home cooked-balanced meals which were provided by women but who were neither appreciated nor valued resulting in increasing number of people becoming sick and who need to be medicated. Thus it is not surprising that the number of clinics and pharmacies is increasing in direct proportion to the increased number of food outlets. Minor sicknesses can be self medicated by medicines that are readily available over the counter or at the conveniently located clinics but the more serious cases need hospitals. The increasing number public and private hospitals/clinics/pharmacies that also provide specialized treatments/tests are evidence of the declining level of health of the citizens of the ‘advanced’ societies. We have reached the stage where it is said that if the decease does not kill the cost of medical treatment will.
8.6 Unfortunately the relevant authorities declare the increasing number of hospitals/clinics as providing better medical care to its populations as another sign of development and providing better health services not realizing that the current lifestyles are the cause of poor health. Relevant medical authorities fail to realize that poor health is an urban disease caused by unhealthy eating habits, lazy lifestyles and pollution The same leaders and authorities keep on ignoring the fact the increased need for the health facilities for the unhealthy population is partly due to the absence of clean and healthy home cooking that used to be done by women but were never appreciated by the male society or the authorities. The leaders continue to give importance to the direct material economic expansion and totally ignoring the indirect costs that will be paid by the coming generations in the form of their poor health. While the life span has lengthened, the quality of life may have deteriorated especially that of the elderly who will keep on increasing in numbers without anyone to care for them. The increase in profits appear to blind the authorities and the health experts who keep on increasing remedial measures instead of treating the cause of the increased level of sickness and poor health.
9.1 The women will have to make further sacrifices if they are to be truly ‘free’. The sacrifices will include their distancing themselves from their maternal instincts [attachment to children], willingness to be non-dependent on the relatives [males and females] and other attachments. Freedom demands action from position of strength as an equal and not compromises. While the male leaders will name the several women who are leaders in the political/civil service/corporate world, it should be noted that these women ‘leaders’ may be leaders in name only and are there with the patronage, support and backing of the men as long as it suits their own agenda and these women leaders’ can be manipulated and to stem any opposition from the large number of women voters.
9.2 All the medical/health problems can be attributed to the absence of women in the house but sadly no one in power or society leaders want to admit the indirect benefit of women in the house who are not there due to lack of justice to them by the male dominated authorities-societies-religions-professionals. Their choice to ignore the importance of women in the house may be due to the economy impact where the GDP goes up and which is used to gauge the economic development of any country.
9.3 It is long overdue that marriage customs be modified to reflect the actual situation and the ‘transferee’ during any marriage should be the ‘bride’ and not the ‘groom’ whose responsibility is being vested in the wife. History has shown that it is the daughters-sisters-wives-mothers who look after the males who may be sons-brothers-husbands-fathers as the males are the weaker sex and need care. There are rare cases where the men look after women but then how to identify them as the test comes years/decades later.
9.4 It has been seen in the past that when legislation for protection of women’s rights were being decided these women ‘leaders’ either were defeated or acted against the interests of women by their vote in support of policies based on decisions that had been made by their male ‘masters’. As long as the women feel that they are not willing pay the price and willing to detach themselves, they will continue to be ‘property’ of men and be dictated/manipulated by them. Women fail to realize that under the democratic form of Government they can constitutionally take over the Government through the ballot box due to their voting power being more than 51% of the total votes. Unfortunately women appear to prefer being subjugated by men whom they vote to power. This also applies to the corporate sector where in some cases the women own more than 51% of the equity. But some religions convince the women that they must be led by men.
9.5 The existing situation is evident for all to see and the solutions are also there. The only viable solution to avoid a rebellion from the women and breakdown in social and moral values is for the men and the male dominated society/authorities in the government and religions to change their own mindset and provide the women their due rights. The leadership of the society must take the remedial action with the same urgency it tackles the material economy as the effects will take some generations for the damage to be remedied if at all possible. It is a herculean task due to the gender preference for male children and the widening gap between the available females and males. Another major obstruction could be the short sightedness of the aged members of the male dominated regulatory authorities’ own unwillingness to change their own views and look generations ahead for the common good of the family institution. The alternative may be to reversal to primal ways that existed before the advent of society based on family as the main institution for moral values.
9.6 There is still hope for the marriage as an institution as men are beginning to change their mindset as there is a growing trend of present day educated men to accept that financially independent career women must be treated with respect and fairly as marriage is a partnership of equals. It was recently reported in Singapore that there are increasing number of husbands who are turning to playing the role of house-husbands and the wives becoming the earners especially where the women are earning more than the men.[The Star dated 22.7.06]. I have always wondered why the men can work as chefs, cooks, kitchen helpers and waiters in restaurants and food courts but expect to be served by the wives who may also be having own careers when they return home.
9.7 My best wishes to all women. Remember men cannot live without women but can live without wives. The women appear to have realized and are also proving that they can live without husbands. This has resulted in the culture of ‘live-in’ relationships especially among the financially independent choosing not to become ‘wives’ become ‘lovers’ in ‘live-in’ relationships. Man-made laws-customs-religious rituals make it easy for husbands to divorce their wives because a divorced man is still in demand whereas a ‘divorced’ wife losses respect in society and then she has little choice. As the cause of divorce is marriage, many women now chose not to marry as no marriage means no divorce. Not the ideal solution but a practical one which to-days career professional women consider and appear to be practicing.
[A comprehensive article titled Dark Days For the Fairer Sex by The Star columnist Zainah Anwar (The Star, 1 Nov 2015) provides insights regarding the sad status of women in Malaysia and the weaknesses of the laws to protect them.]
9.8 A husband demanded his conjugal rights by force even when the wife refused and the husband came after her with a knife. The unjust status of women is emphasized again in a recent Bollywood movie titled Meri Adhuri Kahani or My Incomplete Story]. Though it refers to Indian women, it may be common in other societies with varying degrees. The remarks of the wife are relevant:
[a] Hair is mine but the sindoor is in the name of the husband;
[b] Neck is mine but the mangal sutar is in the name of the husband
[c] She carries the baby in her womb and nourishes with her blood and milk but belongs to the husband;
[d] Finger is mine but the ring in the finger is in the name of the husband;
Her final question: “So what am I but a Vessel owned by the man with nothing of her own and thus a CORPSE’ and begs the husband to kill her.”
9.9 Finally it is my view that:
WOMEN MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS as WOMEN HAVE MORE THAN 50% OF THE VOTES IN DEMOCRACIES AND CAN STAND FOR ELECTIONS AND HAVE SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF POSTS IN PARLIAMENT/LEGISLATURES TO FORM THE GOVERNMENT AND CHART THEIR OWN FUTURE.
BUT THEY EITHER DO NOT WANT TO BE CANDIDATES OR ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE THE CANDIDATES BUT REMAIN SILENT AND THEN VOTE FOR THE MEN WHO THEY CLAIM DO NOT UNDERSTAND OR PROTECT THEM. MAY BE THE WOMEN WANT TO BE ‘FREE’ AND INDEPENDENT BUT STILL BE SUBSERVIENT AND BE ILL-TREATED BY MEN.
WOMEN SHOULD STOP BEGGING AND BE THE NEXT GOVERNMENT.
GOD WAS ASKED ‘WHY ARE WOMEN BEAUTIFUL’ and the reply was ‘SO THAT MEN COULD LOVE THEM’.
But when asked why ‘WOMEN WERE NOT TOO SMART’ the reply was ‘SO THAT WOMEN COULD LOVE THE MEN’
WOMEN SHOULD ACT TO PROTECT THEM SELVES AND BE THEIR OWN MISTRESSES AND NOT WAIT FOR HANDOUTS IF THEY ARE TO BE TRULY FREE.
FATHERS ALWAYS TELL THEIR DAUGHTERS DURING MARRIAGE THAT THE FAMILY HONOR IS IN THEIR HANDS BUT THIS ADVICE IS NEVER GIVEN TO THE SONS OR BLAMED EVEN WHEN THEY BRING DISHONOR.
Gursharan Singh, C.M.I.I.A., a retired audit officer from the Malaysian civil service, is also a trainer. This article was written in November 2015. He can be reached via emails at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or via mobile at +6019.2927178
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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