This painting by an Indian artist evokes a strong response of fear, exploitation and silent inadequacy, if you’re a woman. I imagine it evokes revulsion and outrage for the majority of men viewing it. No reasonable person remains untouched by the scourge of inequality and injustice.
For societies on either ends of the hemispheres, and all those in between and around, one among the top three challenges to humanity and perhaps, by far, the most abiding and impossible to comprehend, remains the inequality of women. In a universe where Creation itself rests within the folds of a woman’s being, how did this utterly illogical, imbalanced and regressive approach find room to plant it’s seed, gain egregious ground and proliferate exponentially?!
How did women allow themselves to become unequal victims, in mind, body and soul? Why did they not arise and offend their silent, patriarchal oppressors, as mothers and grandmothers, if they were unable to do so as wives? When did it come to pass that a daughter deserves less in life and perhaps no life at all?
I lived past fifty and these questions moved past their expiry-date and were cast away into the vast unknown of mysteries that won’t in my lifetime have an answer for my mortal, limited-edition selfhood. I did, as far back as I can recall, never think myself less equal as a girl nor as a woman. Nor did I for an infinitesimal moment think any other woman or man was less equal. I wasn’t in la-la land nor was I stupid. I realized circumstances were unequal to people and that therefore, people were less or more able to do with themselves as they would like. I did recognize, very quickly though, that with this thinking, I was in the minority and my environment did not see me or indeed all humans, as equal. That gender, was an insurmountable lifelong birth-defect and while you could get successful, rich, powerful and spiritually evolved, the world would never allow you to be more than you could be because you are born a woman. One could be born poor in financial terms and that was a burden that buried generations under its weight before it could be shaken off, in some or good measure. Being born a girl-child though has no redemption in sight. No lottery or great entrepreneurial effort or streak of good-fortune could shake-off that absolute judgment.
The truth is liberating. While still quite young, this understanding at a fairly basic level that I am not and can never be perceived as being equal to any man, was fantastically liberating! It let me just be. It let me just be a young woman who no longer needed to carry the burden of proving she “can be equal”. And that was enough of me to breathe, strive and most importantly to give. Hamlet’s words, “I have that within which passes show..”, resonated silently and powerfully. It connected me to an ocean of empathy, creativity and nurturing that women are blessed with as a significant piece of that birth-defect!
It’s quite irrelevant why we are where we are or who caused this shift to happen. The great opportunity lies in the historical fact that the shift towards imbalance did happen and by that logic, yet another shift can also happen to take us back to balance, the natural state of Creation.
No answers need to be sought out. Only efforts need to be made, very mindfully, to work towards a balanced, equal, natural order. Its materially important that support be offered and leverages provided to enable women be equal and even the first citizens of the Universe, as the creators of life, nurtures of values and builders of character.
I seek out all who can support in every which way and those who need support. I reach out and will do so, as far as I can see because I will not be that matriarch who’s face appears as a specter to the girl-child of future generations who wants to know, as I once did, “Why did women and men remain silent and let us come to this?” Nor should you.