No matter what happens, we are very quick to blame men for their conduct and how they treat women in their life or women in general. But we often forget that their ‘masculinity’ is directly proportional to the ‘gender’ they are born in. And the gender they are born in automatically translates to power which then sprouts gender bias and inequality in the society.
But is it only the gender? What makes a gender more powerful than the other is often rooted in our customs and traditions. To be more specific, Indian culture and traditions are celebratory, vivacious, colourful… and, sometimes, misogynistic. And Raksha Bandhan is no different!
What is Raksha Bandhan?
On the periphery of the occasion, Raksha Bandhan celebrates the heart-warming relationship a brother and sister share with each other. Where a sister (of course the ‘female’) ties Rakhi (a sacred string or band) on the wrist of her brother (‘male’), who in turn promises to protect her for life. And to celebrate, the whole family comes together, with lots of delicacies, gifts and endless chatter. Sounds good so far! Right?
Here, I must clarify that as an individual I was never fond of this occasion, since being the youngest I would receive the least amount of cash. However, as I grew older my case for opposition to the occasion changed from an infantile to an ideological one.
Where is the misogyny hidden?
The misogyny is hidden in the root of the tradition. We fail to realise how our society advocates a protectionist approach towards its women. It is, in fact, a manifestation of how Indian society perceives women as the weaker sex, who are not capable enough to shield themselves to face a challenge in life. And, that being so, the protectors have bound a woman’s life into a vicious circle; born to a father who is the first establishment of the institution, afflicted with protection from a brother and then handing over to possessor in the form of “kanya-daan” as per Hindu religion. And all these unstated actions signify that women go through a fine-drawn subjugation all through their life. Maybe that is why women were not seen in the borders and frontiers of the nation until now.
How women are treated in society?
Ironically, on the one hand where men have been appointed as the protectors of women in society, right before the ostensibly ‘auspicious’ occasion of Raksha Bandhan, an alcoholic brother allegedly beat his sister black and blue, punctured her eyes, and locked her up in a room because he did not like the suit she had bought for him. The incident took place in New Delhi. The young woman was rescued by a team of Delhi Commission for Women that was conducting a survey in the neighbourhood, and was shocked by the woman’s screams.
Likewise, in an incident which was reported last month in Bengaluru, a woman was allegedly beaten with slippers and stones and stripped on a road by her brother-in-law. The reason given was that, after her husband passed away, she was living alone with her girl child. They accused her of being a prostitute.
How to bring about a change?
Traditions indeed bind us together. And celebrating them is no offense. However, what can make a difference is the awareness of what we are celebrating and how we are celebrating. Most importantly, we should know the sexist implications of the propitious festivals.
Since we can’t escape from certain conventions, and who doesn’t like celebrating a festival, I started tying Rakhi to my sister and vice-versa. Why not? She is my ‘Lady knight in shining armour’ who has saved me from wrong associations, helped me survive through breakups, stood by me when nobody else did and helped me gain confidence in the skeptical phase of puberty. She truly protects me…