Some time back I came across this beautiful film, The Battle of the Sexes (2017), which portrays the happenings primarily from the tennis world during the early 1970’s. During this period, the women’s liberation movement was gaining ground. Patriarchy was being challenged and the face and nature of society were slowly being turned.
He openly declared that women were weaker than men and their game was not even half as exciting as that of men. Besides, not many people went to watch them. He embodied the popular doctrine of the time, male chauvinism, and even went as far as calling himself a”male chauvinist pig”. The film neatly brings out the battle of the sexes; the battle of opposing ideologies: male chauvinism and women’s liberation and the clash of culture: modernism against traditionalism.
Riggs challenged the then, women’s number one, Margaret Court and conquered her with simplicity in straight sets. In doing this he believed he’d once and for all established male supremacy and proved that girls were in actuality,’lesser’ than men. If a woman in her prime could not beat a retired sportsman, then no female athlete can claim equal recognition, pay or anything as compared to men. Riggs however, grew overconfident and contested the pioneer of women’s equal status in tennis, Billie Jean King. Billie agreed to face him with great reluctance.
Even though that notorious tennis game was dubbed’The Battle of the Sexes’, the actual battle has been raging probably since Man’s fall from Original Grace. When God created people He left them complementary to each other (Gen 1:26-28). He ordained that man should dominate woman.
In the last 60 years however, because of movements like women’s liberation, issues like equality of the genders, respect for women, salaries and so on, have come before public consciousness and have increasingly grown as a subject of discussion and debate. Progress has been terribly slow, but has yet happened. The current case of the Weinstein scandal only serves to reiterate my point of this snail-pace of advancement.
In India – a land of diverse cultural and religious traditions, each with its own way of honouring or subjugating women – the situation isn’t very pleasant. In fact, it’s quite dreadful. The Nirbhaya case among countless others are still fresh in our minds. Everyday’s news has a report on violence against women. What could possibly be the source of all this madness?
To be able to answer this question I think it is imperative that we ask and answer another question:”When does a man child realize he’s superior to a female?” It might appear odd but it’s vital. A child is struggling until a certain age to distinguish between male and female. Even if it does so, it’s only able to identify differences and similarities. The child has no idea of inferior or superior. When and how does he begin to realize that he’s superior then? Obviously socialization and upbringing play a significant role. By observing how his family or the society or community into which he is born and raised functions, he starts to form ideas, mould character and layout behavior.
A child is very likely to treat women in a way that he has seen growing up. Therefore, I think that treating a woman as you’d treat your grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, relative or spouse would solve half the issues. But a huge barrier arises: what about those who don’t treat their grandmother, mother, aunt, sister, relative or partner well? If a man is unable to relate to women who share his blood in a healthy manner, it is very unlikely that he will treat other women nicely.
The Indian male mind is corrupt. As a result of media’s unbounded desire to”sell”, women have become objectified in nearly every field of life and this denigrated picture of women is frequently splashed all about commercials, billboards and such. With so much negativity around it takes a determined effort to shun the alienation of women and recover the main relation. A detoxification of the brain is the need of the hour and strict and binding laws will do much to help the process. Apart from breaking down stereotypes through education and conscientizing individuals regarding the media, more powerful steps have to be taken. Actresses will need to come out stronger and put an end to an objectification of themselves, and mostly their bodies, through the media. I believe actresses would send a strong message if they decided that they wouldn’t do”damsel-in-distress”, item songs and carnal appetizers at all. If the public do not want to see them for the character they play but just for the skin they show, then no amount of money could compensate for the objectification they undergo.
The status of women in India is on the rise but aside from outside forces, girls, particularly those with power and capability must stand up for their rights and dignity. It’s not enough that male chauvinism be condemned, female helplessness must also be equally condemned.