Very well encapsulated by Simone de Beauvoir in her magnum opus the second sex that “woman is not born as a woman she is made women”. This line is a sheer critique to male chauvinism and misogyny. It has lucidly shrugged off the nature of patriarchal society where women in general is constructed as “other” and “inferior” and in particular, they are restricted to what Tasleema Nasreen, a Bangladeshi novelist, calls “claustrophobic confines”. The creative powers of Women are restricted merely to kitchen- work and her intellectual vigor is thus marred in this whole process. This is what scholars deem as “loss of knowledge”.
Restricting women solely to manual work has forced me to respond. I, as a university girl, face a lot of impediments. Right from my home, I observe people gazing at me with utter lust and envy. These signs clearly demonstrate the sense of hatred against women is running horribly deep in our society. Once dearly called the valley of saints and seers is now finding it hard to withstand the challenges of so called modern world. Our social structure is losing its necessary gleam and glitter that previously grasped our moral values; the very luster that makes us uniquely kasmiris and perhaps our identity that reputes us to be genuinely called as the residents of heavenly Kashmir.
Woman was highly respected in our valley. She was dignified with high regard. What then changed our ideology? The answer, according to me, lies somewhat in the striking notion of Karl Marx who convincingly affirmed that “it is the social structure that defines the social consciousnesses”. In the distant past, our social structure was painstakingly and meticulously woven by the ethical teachings of our venerated sages and seers. Their soul stirring saws and maxims constituted the warp and woof of our societal and religious ethos. Our social fabric was wholly and solely encompassed by their visionary moral ideas. Thus, our social consciousness was framed and outlined in such a milieu where reverence and esteem to woman was primarily considered as a sign of being ethical and moral. With the materialization of western liberalism in every nook and corner of the valley, our cortex of thinking, slowly and steadily, changed. Our social structure began to collapse and crumble not because of the western liberalism in general but because we could not withstand and endure the demerits of western liberalism in many ways and hence remained vastly “westoxified”. Thus, our consciousness altered in such a fashion where we began to think in line with the German philosopher Fredrick Nietzsche, who candidly declared that “a woman is Gods second mistake”.
We, as a whole unit, seized to exist as an abode of saints and seers. We as a social unit failed to revere and respect womanhood. We undermined the preaching’s of our charismatic seers and are now reeling in utter dismay and disgruntle. This obnoxious weed of moral turpitude has entirely sunken our valley in the whirlpool of mind-boggling vortex. The shocking incidents of gang rape and acid throwing have revealed and reflected our collective prejudice concerning the opposite sex. Now, the ripe time has arrived. By giving space to women in education and other walks of life, we are giving her access to her basic right that is “freedom”.
Writer is studnet of Kashmir University and hails from Zadibal Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir.