Freedom with permission

The definition of equality is a dicey one. So is the definition of freedom especially when it concerns women. A man would think that since he ‘allows’ his woman to work outside the home he is the most progressive husband! Another man would think that he ‘allows her to wear the type of clothes she wants to so he is a jolly good modern man’! Another would think that his wife has all the money she wants – she just has to ask for it and he never questions her or refuses her so he is a great fellow! Another says that he has no objection to her studying and doing any courses she wants to and he never restricts her in that way so what is the cause of grumble! So does freedom get defined by clothes the women wear, the money that they get from their husbands or by the fact that he allows her to work outside the home? Each man has his own definition of equality and to each his own one would say but is that enough? Is that all there is to woman’s equality? ‘Allowing her liberties with his permission….’ Freedom with his permission is something men understand. ‘She should at least ask me and take my opinion’ is his minimum expectation. ‘She cannot anything what she feels like’ is his natural attitude. ‘She is my wife and represents my family so she must behave according to social customs’. Well, does he do the same? Does he ask or discuss with his wife what he plans to do?

The women have a different story to tell. One woman said ‘he allows me to work true enough but he keeps track of my money and I have to deposit my salary cheque to him every month’. Wow! She earns and he controls. Another woman says that ‘although I am working he monitors my time and my interaction with my colleagues- for example, he would say things to the effect ‘don’t meet that guy, he is not good’; don’t get friendly with male colleagues, don’t talk too much to your boss;’ etc. One lady was terribly stressed out with her mother-in-law’s nagging daily for coming home late after 7 p.m. not realising that the job demands were such. Although many prefer a working woman for she brings home extra money they do not understand and appreciate the responsibilities it brings along with it. One woman who is a doctor confided that she wanted to be a general surgeon but her fiance forced her to take gynaecology in post graduation as she would then deal with women clients only! The list is endless.

Men love controlling women in this form or the other. He thinks it is his sole prerogative to take decisions concerning her life, control the finances that he earns and she earns, to control her movements and her socialising as well. The cultural demands by the family of observing all the required religious functions from time to time was always considered the domain of the women folk of the house, which is still her burden.

A modern woman would believe that she is as equal to the man in all ways and more so since besides her innate capacity to procreate and nurture a child she can also educate herself and feed herself and her family. Today there is nothing that she cannot do. A man has limits as he is not bestowed by nature with the ability to reproduce. Education has given the woman tremendous confidence in herself something that she has not experienced in centuries. My Mother many times in nostalgia dreads the times when women had no control over their personal or social lives. They were kept totally in control by the men folk whether it was the father when young, husband when married and their sons when they grew old. They had no control over their bodies as they kept producing children till they were fertile. They had no time for anything else as domestic duties were never ending.

Women want control over their bodies as well their minds. They will decide what is right and wrong for them, what is good and bad for them. In a marriage situation when both are adults and responsible mature persons both together will decide what is best for them and the family. They can fight out the issues and agree to disagree. One dominating the other becomes unacceptable. A healthy coordination between the two to supplement each other and thus meet the demands of the family would be the ideal. That is the way for modern families.

WE DARE: FREEDOM AND PERMISSION