We have all heard and read about the "mad woman in the attic". The passionate, rebellious, sensual and supposedly uncontrollable monster who had to be locked away because she had a will of her own and refused to slip into the shoes of the "angel in the house".
One would imagine that we, as a society, would have left behind that characterisation in the 19th century and become more accepting of women who have a mind of their own. But have we?
Photographs of aspiring model Priyanka Kapoor's battered face, with a swollen eye and stitches on her lip and forehead prove otherwise. Her husband, Nitin Chawla, allegedly told the police during interrogation that he did not approve of her lavish lifestyle, numerous friends and drinking habit.
She wasn't the "sati savitri" he was looking for and so he abused, threatened and assaulted her. What surprised me more than Nitin's behaviour, given that he had hidden the fact that he had children from a previous marriage and that he had been accused of rape, was the attitude of Priyanka's family.
|Priyanka wasn't the "sati savitri" her husband was looking for so he assaulted her.|
Why didn't they approach the police when they first discovered that the 25-year-old was being brutalised at home? How did they buy assurances given by Priyanka's in-laws that she would be safe?
Does that not show an acceptance of violence? Does it not show that somewhere we, as a society, believe that it's okay for a husband to beat his wife, lock her up inside the house and force her to break ties with her friends and family? And what is a little bit of domestic abuse... we, as a country, believe it is acceptable for a man to rape his wife.
She signed up for sex... didn't she? So what if it has to be violent and forced once in a while?
We are called the second gender; abused by all, answerable to everyone and responsible for everything that is wrong in the society. We are treated disparagingly by anyone in a position of power, be it in Syria or the United States of America. Those who dare to deny sex to ISIS fighters are executed and those who dare to contest elections are accused of beating up their husbands and terrorising their staff.
Let's not make this about extreme cases that have hit headlines. Let's talk about ourselves, our workplace, our home. Why is it that every time a woman raises her voice to make a point she is seen as borderline bi-polar, "a psycho" or "maybe it's that time of the month"?
Why is it that when a man raises his voice, his anger is seen as a justifiable reaction to an unpleasant event? Why isn't a man's anger seen as reflective of his inability to keep his mood-swings in check? Why is a man's anger more legitimate than a woman's? Why is his outrage - outrage and her outrage - some hormone-ridden angst?
Even when there isn't violence there are prejudices everywhere, but more often than not we turn a blind eye to them. For example, women in India form 25 per cent of the workforce, yet in most offices you will find that they get paid significantly less than their male counterparts.
He is supposed to be the bread-winner of the family; she is, of course, merely pursuing a hobby. He has responsibilities, she is simply extravagant. Have you not been asked - why do you need an increment, you are living in your father's hotel?
Or why do you need a hike, isn't your husband rolling in money? Never mind the fact that you are as good as any man on your team, never mind that you put in as many hours. The discrimination is subtly woven into HR policies and boardroom conversations. "Why shouldn't I get paid as much as Aamir Khan when I can deliver an equally big hit", asked Kangana Ranaut, becoming one of the first Bollywood actresses to speak out against lack of pay parity between male and female actors in the film industry.
No matter how successful or famous, women in every profession, at some point or the other, face discrimination.
Not just that, if you are single and doing well professionally, you have obviously been sleeping around. Marriage some claim, calms you down. Really? So when you hired an unmarried woman, you were knowingly hiring an unstable worker?
Abused, insulted, discriminated against and sometimes locked away, how is life for the "second gender" better than what it was 200 years ago?